Karen Lomas
November 12, 2019

Career Coaching, Is it different to other coaching services?

As I hit my 6 year anniversary of private and professional career coaching practice, I am keen to reflect, and also to communicate the distinctions between career coaching and other coaching services, such as life coaching, that you might find on the internet.

In reflection I have experienced wonderful success with my clients and I’m super proud of my achievements. I think both parents and young adults seem all the more anxious about the future. The anxiety is often palpable in what the parents tell me and then how the student comes across when they first arrive. I see this as a worrying but inevitable trend. Inevitable because:

  • there is so much confusion and lack of understanding about the study options available
  • students are still being made to feel that they are defined by their ATAR
  • they look at the competition for places in degree courses as a barrier to their success
  • career conversations at home are fraught – parents are worried and sometimes this comes across to children as controlling and rigid “helicopter parenting”
  • formal career education is sometimes too-little-too-late in schools

Really early in the career coaching process I am able to put both parents and students at ease. I do this because of my commitment, empathy and my training. I am an active listener and I demonstrate empathy and unconditional positive regard irrespective of the behaviour or demeanor of the client. I then use a range of approaches to each client and his/her situation, context, circumstances. This brings me to my question in the title of this blog, and the question of how career coaching is distinguishable from other forms of coaching.

So how is career coaching unique?

Career coaching is a highly specific area of expertise and my training is specialised due to the theory that underpins career coaching professional practice. As Mary McMahon, Professor of Career Development Practice at the University of Queensland argues, the profession of career coaching is distinguished by its theory base. Theory is a model to help understand or explain. Career development theory is our “raison d’etre”, and in career coaching it is mostly psychological theory that underpins our work. Without some adherence to career development theory, career coaches are simply coaches in a broader sense and cannot claim to have the breadth understanding such as to be sufficiently comprehensive in their delivery of support to students and job seekers.

Career Coaching should not therefore be confused with life coaching, training or recruitment. It is not a function of a recruitment business or human resources department, although career development coaches might be employed within a human resources department to support the development of individuals.

In order to be sure that you are gaining the professional expertise of a qualified and experienced career development coach, check that they have professional accreditation. In Australia this is through the Career Industry Council of Australia (CICA) and its affiliates, such as the Australian Centre for Career Education.

I am a professional member of ACCE and therefore accredited by CICA. Look for this detail on a career coach’s website, LinkedIn profile and other platforms. This will give you the assurance you need that you are in good hands, as membership of these bodies requires us to maintain a commitment to ongoing training and development on a year on year basis.

When seeking a career coach, look at the background that can be gleaned from the resume or LinkedIn profile of the career coach. If you read a bio and can see that your career coach has been working with people doing management, development, counselling and coaching, then you can be sure that they are invested in “care” and “advisory” work. If they studied sociology, psychology, youth work, counseling and education, the educational foundations are strong. Moreover, check that your career coach holds a post-graduate qualification, such as the Graduate Certificate of Career Development Practice, from Swinburne University. This provides the extra specialist study in career development theory, and the benefit of the Swinburne University program is that it is delivered by a skilled and qualified practitioner whose focus is on that important psychological theory-base.

Over the 6 years that I have been an independent private career coach, I have also taken on a variety of commitments as a freelance consultant and have thereby expanded my skill set. I have been working with year 10 children in special education, and Vcal students, in year 11 and 12, at a rural indigenous girls’ boarding school. I have been able to demonstrate my skills as a classroom career educator, delivering group workshops, using the Career Fast Track career assessment tool, as well as conducting one-on-one consulting as part of the Victorian State Government Department of Education project, throughout 2019. Next year I will be continuing to support year 10 students in this role, using the Morrisby Online career assessment tool, as well as build my private practice to include much needed programs for parents and middle-school age students.

When I read the lovely messages on LinkedIn, from contacts, wishing me congratulations upon my 6 years anniversary in my role as career coach, I was thrilled in particular to hear from a client called Claire. Claire’s career journey is typical of many; a little wobbly, up and down-hill and stop-start to begin with, but now it has a momentum which is thrilling to observe. Claire has now taken yet another step in her career progression by joining Deloitte, in Melbourne, and was so excited for her first day yesterday, as was I on her behalf.

In my next blog I’ll explain further the ways in which I work to deliver the best possible service to my clients. The environment, the time allocation, the resources and skills that I utilise to support the development of career confidence, independence and what we call career entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, you can read the various sections of this website to gain some understanding of my services and also contact me at [email protected] if you have a specific question or concern.



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