Can a career coach help with your job search?

Career management coach Jane Jackson is exclusively interviewed by Rachel Smith for Australian Seniors.

Given the average employee will clock up around 90,000 hours at work during their lifetime, your career can have a huge impact on your wellbeing.

And if you’re unhappy at work, or unemployed and deflated from job rejections, coaching might be the answer. A good mentor, says Sydney-based career coach Jane Jackson, the author of Navigating Career Crossroads, is someone who will partner with you to help you gain clarity and confidence, and can help you when making decisions to progress in your career.

“Aside from the practical stuff, a career coach focuses on the meaning behind the work you do and what really drives you,” she explains.

How career coaching works

“A coach draws out information through powerful questioning and deep listening,” says Jane. “There are many types of career coaches – for example, an executive coach focuses on creating successful leaders, so you might go to one if you need help making important decisions in your leadership role, or to hone leadership or presentation skills.

“An outplacement coach focuses on career transition – the step-by-step process to secure someone’s next job. Typically, an organisation provides outplacement services as part of a redundancy package.”

Other career coaches may focus on career management and development or career transition, depending on individual needs. “Some career coaches may provide psychometric assessments to help draw out valuable information about the motivators of each client,” explains Jane. “The results of these assessments provide insights into what may be holding a client back from achieving peak performance and job satisfaction.”

Workplace problems

The majority of people who seek out the help of a career coach are those struggling to get job applications over the line – but Jane states she’s often coaching people who aren’t happy at work, too. “You might think you need a new job because you’re not happy in your current job function, but once you delve into it, the issue might be office politics, or bullying, or a boss that doesn’t communicate well,” she says.

“Understanding what’s causing your unhappiness and looking at your role holistically might help you realise the role itself isn’t the issue, it’s the environment. Or a superior. It might just require an action plan and help to navigate an uncomfortable conversation.”

And if you’re looking for a new job and getting no traction? “There’s a tried and tested method that you can follow in order to secure your next job. A coach becomes your accountability buddy – someone who holds you accountable to updating your LinkedIn, branding yourself really strongly and sending cover letters that are targeted rather than generic. There’s so much you can do to get a job and a coach can guide you through that.”

How to choose a career coach

Anyone can hang up a shingle and call themselves a coach, so finding one who’s had formal training and credentials from the ICF Australasia Charter Chapter is a good start.

“Formal training is key because it takes time to learn how to listen deeply,” says Jane. “You want a coach to have relevant life experience, too. Ask for recommendations, check them out on LinkedIn, do a google search. You need a coach who understands how to help you market yourself and build that personal brand online and in person.”

Don’t be afraid to talk to a few coaches. Ask about the demographic of their clients. Do they have experience with midlife career changes? Or redundancy? Or working with senior leaders? “Be aware of cookie-cutter approaches that some coaches offer; if you need something bespoke, ask for it. And also ask to speak with past clients,” suggests Jane. “All of those things will help you figure out if the coach you’re considering is a good fit.” There can be many opportunities for older Australians in the workforce.

What to expect from career coaching

While you may just need a single coaching session to deal with a résumé issue, others might need more sessions for deeper career clarity, says Jane. “A coaching session usually involves powerful questioning, and it may require practical advice and guidance,” she adds. “It’s often challenging; sometimes there are tears! But the idea is you’ll get beyond the discomfort and look very honestly at why you feel a certain way or want a certain thing when it comes to your career.”

Coaches charge anywhere between $120 to $1,000 per hour. “It depends on the coach, their reputation and the results they get,” says Jane. “But rather than focusing on the hourly rate, think about the value you want to get from that coach.” 

By the numbers: A survey of Australia’s over 50s finds:

  • 55% report that they feel undervalued in the workplace...
  • 52% ...of these say this is because their contribution is not fully recognised.
  • 39% ...say it’s because their colleagues are dismissive or disinterested.
  • 32% ...say it’s because they find it hard to have their voice heard.
Career coach Jane Jackson

Jane Jackson

Jane Jackson is a Career Management Coach, author of #1 Amazon Australia best seller, Navigating Career Crossroads, and host of YOUR CAREER podcast, voted top 20 career podcast globally by Feedspot. Jane’s work has been featured on Sky News Business, The Huffington Post, the Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Women’s Weekly, Elle Magazine, and Cosmopolitan Middle East.

Discover how seniors feel regarding the current workplace in our Ageing in the Workforce survey