How Do I Find the Best Career Coach for Me?

As we emerge from the COVID shutdown and workers are required to return to their offices, many people are reevaluating their employment. They want jobs that do more than just pay the bills; they are seeking meaningful work that aligns with their values, personal priorities and lifestyle. For a good number of employees that means working remotely. As they consider their work/life options, many successful professionals are contacting career coaches for the first time.
Hi Trish, it is nice to meet you.Whether you are trying to transition into a new career or looking for a similar role that is a better fit, a career coach can help you land your next job faster than you typically would on your own. But how do you find the right one for you? I recommend starting with a quick Discovery Call.

What Is a Discovery Call?

A Discovery Call is a complimentary (free) call between a coach and a prospective client to discuss the possibility of working together.

Because the coaching relationship itself is vital to client success, many career coaches, including myself, hold Discovery Calls with potential clients to determine if we are a good fit. This first conversation allows both parties to get to know each other, and to make sure they connect on a personal level. Some coaches do charge for these calls, but I do not believe you should have to pay to interview a future service provider.

A Career Coach Can Support Your Career Advancement in a Variety of Ways:

  • Guide your career exploration to identify right-fit jobs
  • Clarify your short-term and long-term career goals
  • Recommend ways to increase your marketability
  • Write professional resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles
  • Teach you how to navigate the “hidden job market”
  • Provide hands-on LinkedIn training to accelerate your job search
  • Map out a step-by-step job search action plan
  • Help you prepare for interviews and salary negotiation
  • Answer your questions throughout your job search

The Personal Approach vs. Online Shopping

When I first started out in the resume writing and career coaching business in 2009, I had a shopping cart on my website so that job seekers could select the specific services they needed. I thought the a la carte approach was best so that people could customize their own packages. I was assuming that my prospects knew how to conduct a successful job search and could leverage the great new resume or LinkedIn profile I would create for them. In reality, many people did not know how to target the right jobs or find job opportunities. They also were not familiar with how the coaching process works.

So I pulled the self-service shopping cart from my website and started holding quick Discovery Calls with each prospect before bringing them on as a client. This enabled them to share their personal needs, I could explain my coaching process and answer their questions, and we both could make sure that we were a good personality fit. The opportunity to clarify expectations is beneficial to both parties. I bring on clients who are ready to make a change and are engaged in the coaching process, and they know they retained the right coach for their needs. With a good coach/client match, job seekers can conduct a more efficient and successful job search.

What is the Purpose of a Discovery Call?

From the coach’s point of view:

My goal is to help you land a great new role as quickly as possible. While there is no one foolproof plan, there are specific actions based upon current hiring practices that will increase your job search success. As your collaborative partner, I will prepare you for success, guide you along your journey and hold you accountable. I will do the heavy lifting in terms of creating your career marketing documents, but I’ll need you to do your part by taking the steps we lay out in your job search plan.

It’s just like working with a fitness coach. The coach is a trained professional who applies their expertise and proven techniques to create an individualized plan to help someone achieve their desired goal. The client puts in the work while the coach provides the means for success, along with support, encouragement and guidance. I am here to help you get “unstuck,” so you can move from where you are now – to where you want to be. If you are resistant to change or not ready to be coached, the coaching relationship will be frustrating and your job search will be slower. Making sure we are on the same page from the beginning benefits us both.

From the prospective client’s point of view:

Career coaches come in all shapes and styles. You need to feel comfortable with your coach’s approach to working with clients. For instance, I have a more direct communication style and I focus on solutions. I’ll be your biggest cheerleader, but I am also your accountability partner and will nudge you when you lose momentum or stray off course. It is important that we make a personal connection because I will be by your side through your journey.

During the Discovery Call, you should feel free to ask questions and clarify expectations. What services do they offer and what are typical client results? What kind of time and commitment are involved? What can you do to make this a successful arrangement? Finally, what are the fees? There can be a wide range of costs, so remember that you’re looking for a coach with the highest level of expertise, the right training and who provides the greatest value.

Many experienced career coaches have a wait list or a set schedule for client onboarding, so make sure the anticipated turnaround time works for you. Try not to wait until the last minute to hire a career coach, as a rushed resume rarely wins interviews.

Do Your Homework

If there is a coach you are interested in getting to know, read their customer testimonials, Google reviews and LinkedIn recommendations to see what others think about working with them.  Check their credentials. Do they belong to the top industry associations? Are they trained and certified? (Personally, I am certified as a Career Transition Coach and belong to Career Thought Leaders Consortium, Career Directors International and the Professional Association for Resume Writers and Career Coaches.) If you like what you see, schedule a Discovery Call. Most coaches include a scheduling link right on their website, like I do.

How Should I Prepare for My Discovery Call?

The only real preparation you’ll need to do before your Discovery Call is to think about what you would like to do next. Even if your answer is “I need a change, but don’t know what I want to do next,” that is ok. As coaches, we are trained to help people explore their options. You might want to make a list of questions in advance and take notes during the call. If you are currently in job search, you’ll want to share with the coach what you have tried so far, the roadblocks you have encountered and the results you are hoping to improve.

What Will Happen During My Discovery Call?

Most Discovery Calls last 20-30 minutes, which should be enough time to get a solid first impression. According to, your intuition will play a role. So, trust your gut.

In this quick conversation the career coach explains the types of assistance they offer you. Some coaches specialize in assessments for career goal setting while others focus specifically on writing career marketing documents. Personally, I help job seekers in every aspect of their career development, from determining right-fit roles through career transition, branded document creation, LinkedIn training and interview prep. I tailor my services to each person’s needs, which is why Discovery Calls are so important. You want to identify the coach who can help you make the right career move.

During the call, you may be asked where you are currently in your career, and where you hope to be professionally and personally. The coach may also want to hear about your career motivations, target salary and any employment obstacles. Be honest with your answers and don’t be afraid to share your concerns, as the career coach is there to help you succeed. Believe me, we’ve heard it all, and we are here to help you, not judge you.

What is the Next Step?

The best coaches will not pressure you to make a quick decision over the phone or offer a guarantee. There are so many external variables in a job search, that reputable career coaches won’t guarantee your results. If you feel you may be a match, ask for a proposal in writing so that you can learn more about the services they recommend for you and review their terms and conditions. I customize a proposal for each person based upon their individual needs, with three package options. I email it so that it can be reviewed at their convenience. I would never want anyone to retain my services if they did not feel committed to the process or comfortable working with me.

Coaching is designed to help people improve their performance so they can reach a goal, and it frequently requires the client to make mindset changes and develop new skills. It is so important that you find the right career coach for you – the one with the right expertise, personality and coaching style that meet your needs. The few minutes you spend on a Discovery Call can prevent you from hiring the wrong person; that, in turn, can save you time, money and disappointment. When you find the right match, it’s a win for you both.

Here is the link to schedule a Discovery Call with me at a time convenient for you.

A well-known and published career transition coach, Trish (Thomas) McGrath has been helping people build rewarding careers since 2009. As a trusted advisor, job search strategist, resume and LinkedIn expert, she guides her clients through the job search process to make it less overwhelming and more successful. Contact Trish at or (860) 658-6480 to see how she can help you gain the competitive EDGE you need to succeed©.

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