What makes a great career coach?


By Karen Lomas 

So many people are asking me lately how a career coach might help them or their child. What difference will it make to them if I have one or more appointments with a private, professional career coach? If your clients are asking these questions too — or if you’re in the beginning of your journey to becoming a career coach — the below points outline the aspects of a good career coach and how your skills can help your clients.  

A career coach needs to be client-centred 

Your main responsibilities as a career coach are to: 

  • Engage – build rapport, develop trust and learn about the client/the client’s child and their story 
  • Support – provides positive encouragement and gentle guidance 
  • Teach, train and coach – with one-on-one skills development, expert review and interpretation of career assessments, and guidance through processes such as application platforms 
  • Mentor – maintain contact over time, encourage, and congratulate 

A professional, independent career coach must be impartial 

Therefore, as a career coach you should not: 

  • give any value judgement 
  • give directives or tell the client what to do 
  • favour any one school or school system/curriculum framework 
  • show preference to any one higher education institution. 


Skills a successful career coach will have 

To give your clients optimal support, you should: 

  • have a high level of specialist training and expertise at postgraduate level, as well as industry experience 
  • maintain contacts (a network) of professionals, dedicated specialist agencies and educational representatives 
  • continue to learn and study as a requirement of your profession 
  • be holistic in your approach and tap into broad theoretical frameworks based on psychological and career development theory. 

Karen is a career coach specialising in early career exploration with school-aged students.  

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