Setting the Proper Career Coach and Client Foundation

This is article #1 from our series: The ‘Must Knows” of Career Coaching – Core Competencies

Every month we’ll be adding a new article. Let’s get started with this months!

Setting The Proper Career Coach and Client foundation focuses on two specific competencies:

– Meeting ethical guidelines and professional standards

– Establishing a coaching agreement.

1.) Meeting Ethical Guidelines and Professional Standards

Meeting Ethical Career Coach GuidelinesEthical standards and principles are the foundation for maintaining trust with clients.

A code of ethics may include:

  • Provide clients with products and services that will enhance their ability to achieve their goals and objectives, regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, income.
  • Be sensitive to client needs and compassionate in providing advice, products, and services in meeting the client’s specific career goals.
  • Deliver to the client what was promised and be truthful in guiding, advising, and counseling clients in all aspects of the résumé writing / employment industry.
  • Maintain strict confidentiality with each client, revealing information to others only upon written authorization from the client.
  • Stay abreast of employment market and hiring trends that will affect his / her clientele, providing up-to-date advice, counsel, products, and services to most effectively meet clients’ career objectives.
  • Comply with all legal obligations in providing professional services.
  • Be responsible to the community and be a contributing part of this environment through participation in community activities. Offer professional advice and information pertaining to the résumé writing / employment industry as appropriate.
  • Emphasize the professional spirit of the organization by encouraging and promoting good relations among members.


2.) Establishing a Coaching Agreement

Establishing a coaching agreement ensures accountability for you as the career coach and your client. Clauses about confidentiality,  put clients at ease. If you operate without some sort of agreement or coaching outline, then you take the risk of either you or the client becoming frustrated, as deliverables and  scheduled meetings might not be met.

Your coaching agreement might include the number of sessions you will hold for a specific coaching program, how long each session is (an intake session might be two hours; and subsequent sessions might be one hour, for example), what is required for homework, and your expectations for the client when conducting research and networking.

Additionally, you may ask the client to be accountable to call on time or be available when called; follow-through on homework in a reasonable amount of time; and report progress.

Set the Limits – Know What the Client Needs / Wants

To begin the career coaching program it is helpful to determine what the client expects from the coaching relationship (a job, a promotion, a raise, new skill sets, direction, focus, etc.). It is good to know if the client is in a crisis situation or just making plans for a future move into a new career path. Knowing these expectations will help you in designing the appropriate coaching schedule.

Developing a Career Coaching Program Schedule

Career coaching is somewhat subjective; the process, goals, and main objectives are based on the client’s agenda and immediate needs. Coaching is fluid and cannot always be based on a structured schedule, as it meets the needs of the client. However, as a coach, it is important to glean pertinent information from a client and set a general schedule for the coaching process. The schedule is particularly important for clients who need boundaries, or who want to see a plan before they sign a service agreement. Moreover, a schedule or program is a guide for the coach in developing a process that works with their clients over time.

Final Comments

Creating a coaching schedule/plan and boundaries will help you and the client understand the deliverables, keep both parties on track, and prevent surprises.

Over time, your career coaching program may evolve into multiple schedules (a 6-week, 12-week, 6-month, or other schedule, etc.). Or, you may decide to create only one program, keeping it the same and simple for each client in your practice.

For those coaches that work in career service centers (universities, military, one-stop, outplacement, spouse/relocation programs, other), the same type of schedule can be created for your clients – even if you are only able to meet with a client for one or two sessions, or multiple sessions.

Feel free to make comments below or contact me with any questions!

Wishing You Success,


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