15 Signs You Need A Career Coach, According To Experts

by Natalia Lusinski

Are you happy with your job? You may think your job or career is just fine, but there are many signs you need a career coach. Sometimes, it's to help you rewrite your resume. Other times, it's to get more clarity about your long-term career trajectory. Or perhaps you just need someone to give you that extra push toward pursuing a higher-level job or getting promoted at your current one. Whatever the case may be, the benefits far outweigh any hesitation about getting one.

"A career coach can be a wonderful asset for any professional women at a career crossroads," Rachel Bitte, Chief People Officer of Jobvite, tells Bustle. "Whether you're just starting out and unsure which path to take, you're hoping to find a new passion, or you're ready to move to the next level, getting an outside perspective from a professional can be extremely helpful."

After all, some studies show that not everyone is clear about where their career is headed. For instance, Capital One surveyed 1,000 people in May and found that nearly one in five, 19 percent, of female Millennials haven't yet identified a career path. Furthermore, 66 percent of female Millennials don't feel like they have as much control as they would like in shaping their career paths, and 80 percent of female Millennials have taken a job that didn't match their career values. Sound familiar?

What Exactly Does A Career Coach Do?

While family and friends can be great sounding boards for your career woes, career coaches' main mission are to help people get on and stay on track regarding career matters. "Career coaches can guide you through all sorts of major milestones — switching gears and going back to school or learning how to manage a team," says Bitte. "But smaller bumps in the road do come up, and you might not realize you need help. Calling on a career coach for a tough negotiation or even just a particular presentation can be a great idea. Externalizing your situation, explaining the challenges, and getting a professional's trained eye could make all the difference in achieving the outcome you want."

If you're on the fence about whether or not you need some extra help figuring out your job-related life, here are some signs to look out for.


You're Not Happy At Work

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Perhaps the most obvious sign that you may need a career coach is because you are not happy. Of course, you never intended to become so negative — about everything, not just in the office. But, somehow, everything seems to bother you and it all goes back to your job dissatisfaction. Yes, you may smile and pretend you are happy, even though you're doing a job task you hate, but are you honestly happy? You may be at a job where menial work adds up to getting promoted, and then someone else will be doing that menial work. But if there's no advancement in your future and you're getting bitter, you may need a career coach to give you an extra nudge.

"If you find yourself dreading Monday and hating your alarm clock, it is time to explore a career transition," Nicole Wood, CEO and Co-Founder of Ama La Vida, tells Bustle. "Deloitte reports that 80 percent of people don't like their jobs, and given that most people spend 40+ hours per week of their lives at work, that is a significant portion of your life to dislike. A career coach can help you figure out why you aren't enjoying your work and help you successfully transition to a role more aligned with your passions, skills, and values."


You Know You Are Not Doing A Job You Love, But It's A Paycheck

Are you a "working for the paycheck" kind of person or an "I love my job and I happen to get paid for it" one? I'm the latter, but I can think of plenty of people who are the former, and you probably can, too. So then what? Stay in an unhappy job or career setting forever?

"One sign that you need a career coach is because you're at a career crossroads," Debra Bednar-Clark, Founder and CEO of DB+co, tells Bustle. "The most common feedback I hear from coaches in this scenario is 'I feel like I'm in a soul-sucking position.' A 'crossroads' can emerge in many forms, including: you feel stuck in an unfulfilling job; you feel out of control at work (e.g., there's a lack of leadership, management, and communication, lots of changes, and frequent re-orgs); you feel out of alignment with your current role or company (i.e., 'I'm good at this, but it's not really me.'); you know you're capable of more and meant for something greater, but you're not sure where to start, what it is, or how to make it happen."


You Need Help Getting A Raise

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Almost everyone has been there at some point: You like or love your job and have put in a lot of time... but you have not gotten a raise. A career coach can help. "We all want the recognition and compensation that a promotion usually brings, but it's not always obvious how to achieve it," says Wood. "Career coaching can help you not only achieve the necessary goals to build a strong case for promotion," but also help you navigate office dynamics "and prepare for performance review and compensation discussions."


You're Not Getting Promoted Or Advancing In Your Career

Do you feel your career or job is going nowhere? Are you not getting promoted? Or do you feel stuck in your job? "If you feel like your career has plateaued, it is a sure sign a career coach is a good option for you," says Wood. "This may mean you lack options to move up in the company, you are maxed out, pay-wise, or you feel like there's just no room for growth and learning within your company or industry. A coach will help you figure out if there are creative ways to advance or if a career change is what you need to feel 'un-stuck' and excited about your future."

Bednar-Clark agrees and says an "inflection point" can also emerge, and in many forms. "You're 'doing all of the right things' at work, yet you're not seeing the acknowledgement and recognition you deserve (e.g., you get passed over for a promotion, you're not getting the opportunities you desire, you don't receive the support you need, etc.). You're building a career you thought you wanted, yet when you accomplish your goals, something is missing on a deeper level. You want to change the direction of your career and/or take your career to the next level, but don't know where to start or how to make it happen."


You Forgot About Your True Career Goals

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So what happens when you have an OK job, but it's not what you really want to be doing? It may be time to consider a career coach. "Not being sure what you want to do with your life may happen right after college when you're entering the workforce or it could happen years down the track when you decide you don't want to do what you're doing anymore," Wood says. "Many of our clients come to us after years in very successful careers which they are no longer interested in or fulfilled by, but have no idea what they want to do instead. A good career coach will help you reflect on your own abilities and motivators and will help you craft a career plan which matches who you are as an individual, so that you can not only achieve great success but also personal fulfillment."


You Have Anxiety Or Are Nervous About The Future

Whenever you are unsure about something, you may experience anxiety or nervousness, and this may be related to your career, too. So, it may be time for a professional to step in and help you. "Because coaching helps you be introspective and build a better understanding of yourself, your goals and actions will be more aligned with who you are and what you need to be happy," Wood says. "Though your coaching may have been geared toward career progression or developing certain skills, you will also be finding ways to do more work that you enjoy and eliminate the behaviors which make you dissatisfied at work."


You Don't Know What To Do With Your Life

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Perhaps you were a business major and started working in your field after college. But, after a few years, you realized you're not a business person like you thought you were. Now what? "Often professionals are stuck in jobs they don't like because they are unsure what else they could be doing," Kavita Sahai, Coachultant (Coach + Consultant) and Founder of, tells Bustle. "A good career coach will analyze your skills and interests to help you understand what your goals are and then help you reach them."


You Feel Like You Have Too Many Interests

You may have the opposite issue and have too many interests and need to focus on one or two at a time. "Learn before you leap," Gwen Lane, Capital One Workshop Lead, tells Bustle. "If you're thinking about a career change and you're unsure of what it would really be like to do something else, try it out first. Look for a short-term volunteer, freelance, or internship opportunity in the evenings or on weekends to see if this is something you are really going to pursue. Schedule informational interviews with people in the same position you see yourself in so that you can ask questions and get more familiar with your potential new career. Learn as much as you can before you make any big decisions."


You Feel Like You Don't Have Enough Interests

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Another sign that you may need a career coach is because you don't have enough interests when it comes to the type of job you want. Just like the person who has too many interests, now's the time to test-drive various jobs and career opportunities.

"Once you've decided on making your career shift, it's time to figure out your next steps," Lane says. "If you need to acquire a certification or take classes, this is the time to create an action plan with deadlines to keep yourself on track while you're still at your current job. Clear deadlines are the lifelines to your next career. It's also time to network to new work. Think about your current relationships and perhaps making new ones. Do you know anyone in the industry or industries that you want to be in? Are there any events going on with people in the industry that you want to get into? Start researching your LinkedIn or Facebook networks and check out Eventbrite or Meetup for events. It doesn't have to feel like networking and only reaching out to someone 'when you need something.' It's more about putting yourself out there, going to events and meeting new people, and proactively creating connections that foster an environment for future opportunities. Used with creativity and enthusiasm, your network can lead to new work."


You've Been Unemployed For Too Long

You and I have all been there at some point: unemployed. Perhaps you send out 5-10 resumes and cover letters every day when you wake up. But nothing's working. What should you do? "If you have sent out over 100 resumes and have not landed the right opportunity, it may be time to get a second opinion on your strategy," says Sahai. "A career coach will look at everything from resume, emails, and even LinkedIn, to help you craft a more cohesive story and strategy."

Wood agrees. "If you are already in the throes of the job search process, but you are struggling to get interviews, a career coach can help you refresh your resume and enhance your personal brand, especially online. Having a strong LinkedIn profile and online presence are becoming increasingly important, and a career coach can help you tailor these to your job search goals."


You Need Help With Nailing An Interview

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How many of the resumes you send out get you interviews? "You only have one chance to make a first impression," Sahai says. "If you tend to freeze up or talk too much, get a coach that can help with mock interviews and walk though different potential challenging questions." And even if you are getting interviews, you may need help getting offers.

"Sometimes you have all the right tools to land interviews but you struggle to get a call back or a job offer," says Wood. "A career coach can not only help you build your confidence so that you can walk into the next interview looking and sounding like a pro, but they will also coach you on the tactical components of interviewing, like what to wear, how to prepare, body language, how to structure your answers to questions, and follow-up best practices. Plus, working with a coach will consistently help you build self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and build your capacity to work with and lead others."


You Need Advice From Someone Not In Your Inner Circle

I'm sure your family and friends are great at offering you advice. However, sometimes they give you the advice they would take, what's best for them — like a lifetime at the same company in the small town they live in — versus what's best for the big-city person that's you. "Working with a coach helps you identify your strengths and incorporate them into your work, even if that wasn’t the initial intent of your coaching," Wood says. "A coach is also there as your professional wingman/woman, keeping you on track and reminding you why you are pursuing these goals. With them by your side, you feel more confident in your decisions and skills, and more empowered to go after what you want."


You Need Help Navigating A New Job

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Perhaps you have gotten a new job, and it may be in a whole new field, so you could use some help. "Congrats on being brave enough to follow your passions into a completely different industry," Sahai says. "It will be beneficial to have a career coach help you navigate through the intricacies of your new career path."

Or, you may have gotten promoted at your current company, but could a boost of help from an outside source. "Perhaps you just received a promotion and you are managing people for the first time, or maybe you are now working in a remote capacity, which is new for you," says Wood. "A career coach can help guide you through this transition and help you build the necessary skills to be successful in this new position."


You Need Someone To Hold You Accountable

I think one of the best parts about having a career coach is having someone to hold you accountable, just like a gym buddy when you want to workout more. "One of the greatest benefits of having a coach is that you are now accountable to another person to do the things you said you would and in the timeframe you said you wanted to do them," Wood says. "Often, we get busy and let our personal deadlines slip or lose touch with the inspiration we had when we initially set a goal — a coach keeps those goals top of mind for you and ensures you stay on track with reaching them."

As you can see, there are many signs you may need a career coach, and many benefits to having one. As Wood said above, it's great to have a professional wingman/woman cheering you on as you navigate your career, and the more support you have, the better.