Want to become a career coach? If your answer is “yes,” grab your favorite Starbucks drink and keep reading!
I began my coaching business as a side hustle while in college. I offered resume reviews and LinkedIn profile summaries on Fiverr, a popular online marketplace, for five dollars each. Over time, this college side hustle grew from a very part-time gig to a successful career coaching business. I have learned how to secure new clients, steadily raised my rates, and increased my confidence. In 2017, I left my full-time job to dedicate 100% of my time and energy to CaffeinatedKyle.com.
Now, I am a career coach and trusted confidant to some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley and the tech industry. Additionally, I serve as a business mentor to coaches who want to build authentic, thriving practices so that they can spend less time working and more time living. Over the last 9+ years, I learned a lot about what it takes to develop your skills as a coach and build a successful online coaching business.
How To Become A Career Coach In 5 Steps
Are you thinking about becoming a coach? The following are five of my top tips for starting your own coaching business.
1. Find your first coaching client.
Before jumping headfirst into a full-time career as a coach, consider beginning with a single client. I am a proponent of harnessing the power of your immediate network to market yourself and your coaching services. Start by sharing your services with family, friends, classmates, colleagues, you name it. More than nine years later, the vast majority of my clients still come from word-of-mouth marketing and referrals.
You may also consider marketing your services on popular gig sites. In addition to Fiverr, many of the coaches and resume writers I speak with successfully market their services on freelance marketplaces like Upwork and Thumbtack. While these sites tend to result in ‘race to the bottom’ price wars, they can be a good starting point for finding and securing new coaching clients. You can then leverage these clients into referral sources for future work.
2. Join industry organizations.
Candidly, being a solo career coach can be lonely. Joining career services organizations is an opportunity to connect with industry colleagues and receive support from people in similar shoes. Career Directors International (CDI) is a well-known career membership group that offers high-impact courses to grow your coaching skills, helpful job seeker resources and templates, and a business directory to market your services, among other member benefits. Moreover, CDI is a global leader in the resume writing marketplace.
If you are looking to become a resume writer, I also highly recommend joining the National Résumé Writers’ Association (NRWA). The NRWA provides members with writing and business resources, continuing education opportunities, and a supportive Facebook group for members, which is worth the cost of membership alone. Importantly, the NRWA is the nation’s only nonprofit organization for professional resume writers.
3. Pursue career coaching certifications and training.
Today, anyone can claim they are a coach. As a result, the coaching industry is sadly saturated with fraudsters looking to make a quick buck off unaware job seekers looking for a new career. Coaching certifications enable you to not only stand out in the saturated coaching market but also demonstrate your commitment to the craft. Moreover, professional certifications are the perfect opportunity to hone your knowledge and sharpen your skills as a coach.
You want to find the combination of career coaching certifications that make sense for your business niche and goals. Because my expertise is in job search and career growth, I chose to become double-certified through The Myers-Briggs Company. I am now Strong Interest Inventory® Certified as well as an MBTI® Practitioner. I also completed Successful Strengths Coaching through Gallup. These specialized credentials and advanced trainings complement my formal education in teaching and learning, health education (behavior change), counseling, and nonprofit management and philanthropy.
4. Find mentors to support your journey.
Mentors can help you think strategically about your short-term career goals as well as your long-term vision for your business and life. Furthermore, they can help you accelerate your business growth by sharing where they have seen success in their own careers and businesses and give you tips on mistakes to avoid based on their previous missteps. Personally speaking, mentorship has been invaluable to my success as a coach and business owner.
You want to recruit a personal board of directors that will give you support across all areas of your business. Strive to create a team of mentors who transcend industries and specialties. I encourage you to seek out people who are where you want to be in 3, 5, and 10+ years. I want to give a quick shout-out to a few of my personal mentors, including Wendi Weiner, The Writing Guru®, and Jill Katz, Founder of Assemble, for supporting me — and challenging me — over the years as I expanded my coaching business.
5. Invest in your own coaches.
As you grow as a career coach, you will find yourself celebrating big wins as well as facing new challenges, and it makes sense to invest in your own coaches. Coaches complement mentors and will make the process of growing your business more efficient, rewarding, and fun. Investing in your own coaches also pushes you to continually grow and evolve as a business owner and human.
Importantly, be sure to conduct your due diligence before investing in a business coach. Many coaches will curate a large social media following to create the facade of a successful business. However, a massive social following does not equate to an effective coach and business mentor. Instead, invest in a coach who is truly walking the walk and can support you in reaching your goals more quickly.
Finally, keep in mind that becoming a career coach is not an overnight journey. Rather, building a coaching business takes strategy and intention, time and energy, and a plethora of grit. If you stick with it, you can build an authentic, thriving business. You’ve got this!