Why Career Coaches Don’t Make Money

broke

Perception is reality. Not all the time, but most of it.

Anyone can be a career coach. There’s no certification for it. In fact, most career coaches barely make any money doing it. Here’s why:

Prospecting clients is like identifying new car buyers. You can’t really convince someone they need it, you just have to be visible when people are looking for it. Career coaches can’t talk you into something you don’t want to do. They can just lay out their process and instill the confidence they can deliver your desired result. That’s it.

The irony is the people who need it most are usually broke or unemployed. The service shouldn’t be cheap (if it is I would question the credibility). Clients who benefit from it the most are usually older or further along in their career. If you’re hiring a coach out of desperation, you’re better off hiring a temp agency. Career coaching is a personal and professional investment. It’s about teaching you the skills to find a job on your own, not do it for you. If any coach promises you a job after they work with you, they’re lying (unless they’re going to hire you themselves).

On the business side coaching individuals is not scalable. You’ll never have too many clients on your plate unless you’re connecting with companies who hire you as a transitional coach (aka helping clients as part of a severance package). The money isn’t in individuals, it’s in corporate. That’s why if you’re not charging a decent amount, you’re wasting your time.

Career coaches who are reading this probably hate me.

Prospective clients reading this probably knew this already.

Here’s the caveat: if you call yourself a career coach, stop. People are skeptical.

If you’re thinking about hiring a career coach do it based on two criteria: fit and confidence. If you two “click” consider working with them. Lastly, if you have the confidence after talking to your coach he/she can get you to where you want to be, pay them.

The reality is people are changing jobs almost every year.

Is hiring a career coach a good idea? Depends what your expectations are.

But if you’re thinking about calling yourself a career coach or are one, you better figure out another way to make money.

Why Coaching Doesn’t Work

coach's whistle

I’ve been coaching for the past 8 years as an entrepreneur, but much longer in basketball and life. It’s a skill set you can learn, but similar to leadership there are some who have an innate ability to thrive in it and a “higher ceiling” in terms of execution. As a customer there are more reasons than not to avoid coaching, which makes it hard to “sell.” Here are just a handful:

“What is coaching?”

“How does it work?”

“How much is it?”

“What results will I get?”

“HR and management already provides that at work.”

The list goes on and on, so instead of trying to convince you why coaching works, I prefer to share my experience of hiring a coach. I worked with a coach for 18 months. We met bi-monthly and talked about professional and personal issues. I loved how he would ask me questions that were based on my agenda, set goals to accomplish before the next session and go at my pace. It felt much more like hiring a personal trainer to strengthen my mind than anything close to therapy or psychology. I liked it so much I picked my coach’s brain on how to become one and after going back to school for a M.A. in Organizational Leadership, here I am.

Now the toughest part is selling it. Coaching is a process, it provides solutions to the “how” questions. Problem is customers are focused on the results. Confidence and career advice is what my clients get from working with me. Another issue is paying for individual sessions. Going back to my personal trainer analogy, you wouldn’t hire a trainer and expect results overnight, so you can’t do the same with a coach. Sessions don’t work, programs do. P90X and Insanity sell fitness, but they’re packaged as a program. That’s exactly how you need to buy coaching. For example, my Career Bootcamp is 30 days of coaching which includes: (4) 60 minute sessions + unlimited weekday email support. If you take full advantage of this offer, you can have up to 26 “touch points” in a month’s time. Now that’s value! You get a defined outcome in specific time frame. Much easier to buy.

It’s not that coaching doesn’t work, it does. But the challenge is how it’s “packaged.” These days anyone can call themselves a coach, I get that. So if you’re in the market to hire one, contact a coach and ask them questions. Your decision to hire one should be based on chemistry (do you “fit” with them?) and confidence (can they get me to where I want to be?). Coaching is an investment in personal & professional development. A smart coach also knows when to refer clients to therapists when their issues are outside of their professional scope.

Athletes hire coaches to increase performance, so should you!