Career Coach Vs Career Counsellor – What’s the Difference?

Posted November 16, 2018, by Jenny Sakr

Making the first steps into working life after school or university often comes with a rush of heady excitement as you experience the thrill of usefulness and hard-earned $$ arriving in your bank. However, after the initial excitement of entering the world of work we are often left dissatisfied with our job, our career path, or the level of our earnings. According to a recent report on job satisfaction in Australia (2017), only 29% of workers feel very satisfied with their work overall. This means there is a good chance you are not one of those people. Here’s where a career counsellor or a career coach comes in. These experienced professionals can help you find a new career path, or help you to advance if you’re stuck in a rut. But what’s the difference between a career counsellor and career coach? Can a career counsellor help? Is a career coach and career counsellor the same thing? 

There are some significant differences between career coaches and career counsellors. Before you embark on booking your sessions, it is helpful if you understand those differences. Then you can decide which approach will suit you best.

What is a Career Coach?

Or what does a career coach do? Furthermore, what should you expect when you decide to book some sessions with a career coach?

Well, a career coach will begin by having a chat with you about your work experience, skills, and qualifications. Then, the coach takes this information and compiles a report and practical recommendations for you. He/ she will identify areas that need improvement, as well as helping you to identify your strengths.

This is a process which you embark on together and your coach acts much as a sports coach does. They will push you, encourage you, and help you to look at your situation from a positive perspective. From a position of expertise, your career coach will help you to set goals and help identify the tangible steps you need to take in order to achieve those goals. Some of those steps may involve helping you to identify education opportunities, improving your resume, or supporting you to take action to build on your professional network.

Usually, your career coach will give you homework after each session which you need to put into practice. In this way, you begin to take practical and concrete steps towards a new career or role, and a new happier you!

What is a Career Counsellor?

What does a career counsellor do? A career counsellor will offer you similar support to a career coach. However, as well as discussing your career from a practical point of view they also help you to process emotions and internal obstacles which may be holding you back.

Sometimes progressing your career isn’t only about practical steps such as creating the ideal resume or enrolling in a new course. Before you can carry out practical steps effectively, you need to identify and process what’s happening to you internally. For example, a reserved person may need to notice their reservation and understand how this might hold them back. Then, with the help and encouragement of their career counsellor, they can find ways to overcome their reservation or turn this side of themselves into an asset. Maybe it’s time to look for a role which requires this characteristic as a skill. Or maybe it’s time to take a public speaking course. You might need to process your fear of failure before you can have the confidence to take practical steps towards your dream job. A career counsellor helps you with those things.

Your counsellor will give you homework to complete after each session, but these might not necessarily always focus on carrying out practical steps towards a goal. The career counsellor asks you to first take a step back, in order to identify areas of your internal landscape which need attention. Then, you can take practical steps toward an exciting future without holding yourself back.

What’s the difference between a career coach and career counsellor?

A career coach and career counsellor both want to help you to find your direction and purpose. Everyone has the potential to succeed but we can’t always appreciate the helicopter view from where we’re standing. Sometimes we fail to acknowledge or see our own strengths. We begin to stagnate in our job role for many reasons, but in simple terms, we stagnate because our work, desires, passions, and beliefs don’t align. This is when we live for the weekends and during the working week between we grit our teeth and “get through”. But life doesn’t and shouldn’t have to be that way.

Both professionals will have your best interests at heart and will use their knowledge, expertise, and experience to help you find a new direction, or to reach for the long hoped for promotion which always seemed out of reach.

Whatever the route you take with them, they will tailor their advice for you, to help you achieve more and feel more satisfied and happier with your working life.  

However, career coaches and career counsellors take a different approach.

A career coach doesn’t linger on the past or dig too deeply into your emotional or inner wellbeing. They are going to focus on the future, and help you to identify a career path to aim for which will align with your passions, or to manage your career change, or to simply progress in the company you are working for.

As well as helping you from a practical point of view, a career counsellor will also focus on supporting you to identify any internal emotions or behaviours holding you back.

In short, career coaches egg you on, push you, and help you to get on rather than wallowing in your situation while you procrastinate. A career counsellor takes a holistic approach, they peek behind the curtains and help you to address your backstory so you can move forward into your future story.

What won’t my career coach or career counsellor do?

In both cases, your career coach or career counsellor will not do all the work for you. They will not land you an interview, or write your resume for you, or give you all the answers. They don’t have a magic wand!

What will my career coach or career counsellor do?

They will both give you share their valuable expertise and offer sound guidance and support. With either a career coach or counsellor by your side, you can enable yourself to change your life, by improving your working life and as a result your overall satisfaction and happiness.

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How do I know what’s best for me?

Before you go ahead and book your sessions have a think about where you are now and the reasons you think you aren’t moving forward.

Do you have obstacles on your emotional landscape standing in the way? Maybe you have a fear of failure or lack confidence in your own abilities? Or on the other hand, you might have a clear vision of what you want to achieve in terms of your career but you know you have held back because of fear, or lack of confidence. If so a career counsellor will make the best choice for you.

Think about your personality and what you are comfortable examining and discussing. Maybe you don’t want to talk about your emotions, or you’re clear your past and internal landscape is not what’s holding you back. Perhaps it’s that you never seem to get around to taking the practical steps to turn around your working life, or you feel overwhelmed by choices and don’t know where to start? If this sounds like you then a career coach can help you to get on track.

Lastly, it’s not always simply about the approach of your career coach or career counsellor, you also need to identify a person you are comfortable with and have confidence in. Then, you can work together as a team to turn your career around and welcome a happier you every day, not only on the weekends!

Jenny Sakr
Jenny Sakr

Jenny found her way with words while interning during uni, since, she's produced articles on it all – from hair and beauty to homewares, travel, career advice and study tips. On a weekend you're most likely to find her lining up for a table at the latest cafe or restaurant.

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