Most people I know have either never heard of coaching or are simply unfamiliar with what they could gain from coaching. Unfortunately, finding clear information about what coaching is, how to find the right coach, and how it all works is difficult. So I’ve put together this list of FAQs to help you sort through the basics of coaching and the career consulting I provide to my clients.
Infographic by swrightcreative
What exactly is coaching?
A career coach is a trained professional who specializes in helping you reach your personal and professional goals. Typically, this is accomplished through a series of 1-on-1 or group sessions designed to help you achieve your greatest potential in life. A professional coach can offer a variety of tools and techniques while providing an objective perspective. Coaches specialize in different areas.
In the coaching I do with my clients, I focus on three pillars fundamental to any major evolution in life: clarity, confidence, and courage. My coaching approach is informed by my professional business experiences in corporate brand marketing and my personal experiences of reinventing my own life.
What types of people turn to coaching?
People from all walks of life can benefit from coaching, but it tends to resonate best with individuals who aspire to improve their lives or reach a higher level of personal success, those feeling some sort of tension in their careers or lives. If you’re stuck in a rut, frustrated with some aspect of your career, wrestling with a major transition, or simply aspire for more out of your career, coaching might be right for you.
Most of my clients who get the most out of coaching tell me they’re looking for 4 things:
- A dedicated time & space to focus on some important career issues
- Some “expert” perspective on potential waste to move forward
- Someone who can hold them accountable to making progress
- Someone who can be fully objective and nonjudgmental when discussing topics.
Coaches can help hold you accountable, to keep you on track toward achieving your goals. You can read more about the benefits of coaching on ICF’s website.
I, myself, have worked with a coach multiple times in my life. The first, when I decided to give up on a career in medicine after over seven years of personal investment. Later when making a choice to shift my life toward business. Also, when I was deciding whether to leave my senior marketing position working for a reputable consumer brand. There were also many occasions when I wished I had a life coach to help me through key moments of reinvention. For example, when I made a leap of faith and moved to Hawaii to create a totally new life from scratch. When I left my stable, corporate job behind in the Bay Area to focus on my personal priorities. When I decided to buy a 1-way ticket to the United Kingdom, building a new life for myself in a foreign country . . . again, with no initial job in hand, but a deep sense that I was doing the right thing for my life.
What happens over the course of coaching sessions?
Many of my clients are busy business professionals, so I do most sessions via Skype or phone so my clients can speak to me in the comfort and privacy of their own home, which is also a time-efficient approach. Typically, we’ll start by getting a snapshot of your current situation, current issues, and where you want to go. We’ll clarify life purpose, values, ambitions, and goals. We’ll also work to identify key barriers in your life, common frustrations, areas where you tend to get stuck. At the end of each session, we will talk through next steps and actions to keep you moving forward between sessions. Most sessions tend to last 60 mins. All information is kept 100% confidential, and I will never divulge to anyone I’m working with you unless you give me explicit permission. At the conclusion of our work together, we’ll recap our progress & identify how you can best leverage what you’ve learned as you move onward in life.
What makes Joseph Liu unique?
My approach to my coaching is informed by moments of reinvention in my own life, my professional corporate background in brand marketing, and my CTI training, and educational focus on psychology. I work mostly with individuals navigating a major career transition, the kind that sends your life in a radically different direction, often into the unknown.
I offer both coaching and consulting from start to finish. Offering more open-ended coaching during the stage of career exploration, then offering more practical career & job search skills coaching once you’ve identified your new career path.
For entrepreneurially-minded individuals, I also provide expertise in branding & marketing yourself or your business to others. Many tools and frameworks used for defining and relaunching a brand can also be used to create your personal brand– clarifying your unique values and mission then defining your business’s target market, value proposition, and marketing plan to fuel growth.
How is life coaching different from career coaching?
Life coaching involves you as a whole person. This includes relationships, health, career, physical environment, social, etc. Career coaching tends to focus specifically on work and professional topics.
My clients tend to come to me for career-related topics, given my corporate professional background. However, our conversations inevitably evolve to include other topics, as career is rarely isolated from the rest of our lives. ICF Coaching FAQs about how the ICF distinguishes coaching from other service professions.
How can I find the right coach for me?
Coaching is most effective when the coach-client relationship is strong. That means finding someone whom you personally find credible, resourceful, and empathetic with your situation. Someone who “gets” you, yet someone who can offer fresh perspective on things. You can get a sense of this during an initial consultation.
There are some online coach directories that exist like:
However, to be honest, I’ve not found them to be that comprehensive or useful. You can also try the ICF’s Credentialed Coach Directory. However, people often hear of coaches through referrals or word of mouth. I’d encourage you to ask around or check with your local ICF chapter or post a note on LinkedIn asking your network if they know of a good coach.
Is there a benefit to working with a certified career coach?
Yes. Currently, the term “coach” is used very broadly. Some people call themselves coaches although they’ve engaged in any formalized training or certification process. On the other hand, some have completed formalized training programs, accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF) such as the Coaches Training Institute (CTI), the largest in-person training program in the world.
An ICF Credentialed coach has completed stringent education and experience requirements and has demonstrated a strong commitment to excellence in coaching. They have fulfilled coach-specific training, achieved a designated number of experience hours, and have worked with a Coach themselves, so certified coaches have made it through this filtering process, demonstrating an earnest commitment to high coaching standards.
Finding a certified coach allows you as a client to filter amongst those coaches who do this “informally” and those who have really dedicated themselves to being professional coaches. For example, as of 2014, only 1 out of 4 ICF member coaches in the UK hold an ICF Associate Certified Coach (ACC) credential. You can access the UK’s ICF ACC credentialed coaches directory here.
I completed my professional coach training through CTI (104 in-person hours), and awarded my ICF ACC credential in 2014. My coach training through CTI, my marketing background, and my experiences reinventing my own career all feed into the coaching you can expect to receive from me. At the end of 2016, I’ve completed 500+ hours of professional coaching with individual clients.
Can I work with a coach who lives in a different geography?
Absolutely. I wouldn’t let geography be the primary factor in finding the right coach. I’m based in the UK, but I’ve coached clients around the world, including those in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Qatar, India, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Australia. I welcome clients from anywhere in the world as long as you’re proficient in English, my primary language (wish I could speak more!).
With my clients in London, we often have our sessions over Skype or phone anyway. In the United States, I do have a particular affinity toward working with professionals in San Francisco, Chicago, or Washington, DC since my professional networks are strongest in those cities.
What’s the best way to get started?
When you do identify a potential coach, request an introductory “chemistry” consultation (typically free) where you briefly discuss your current situation and where you want to go. Then, have a candid conversation about whether you feel the coach’s expertise & services align well with what you need. It typically takes 20-30 mins, and you’ll get a decent read on the coach’s style and approach. You can also ask if the coach has testimonials he/she can share with you. Reading testimonials can help you get a sense of whether a coach’s offerings resonate well with your needs.
If you feel my approach, fees, and background may align with what you’re seeking, feel free to request a consultation.
How long do people work with coaches?
This varies, but in general, it takes multiple sessions to create meaningful progress. I’ve found the clients of mine who get the most from the coaching commit to certain goals they aim to achieve over a 90 day period, as significant change doesn’t happen overnight. Given demand, I now only take on a limited number of new clients, specifically those interested in my most popular 6-session, 90 day package, although some continue beyond this or choose to move more quickly. From the start, I encourage all my clients to let me know if and when they feel their time is complete. I want you to feel like you’re getting tremendous value from every single session we have together, and the moment that’s not the case, you always have the freedom to stop.
How will I know if coaching is working for me?
At the end of a coaching session, either with me, or another coach, I’d encourage you to ask yourself if you have learned something new about yourself and gained clarity on your situation. While I would never claim that coaching can lead to immediate epiphanies, I do believe you should feel like you’re gaining a bit more clarity on your situation with each progressive session. You should feel like you’re connecting the dots and gaining a new awareness about yourself, to enable new actions and new results in your life.
How much does coaching cost?
Coaches have different pricing structures. Some charge a certain amount per session while others charge monthly fees with a set amount of sessions or access. Those coaches who have obtained certification from the International Coaches Federation or accredited coaches school may tend to charge more given their level of experience or expertise.
If you’re interested in working with me, you can view my current fees (subject to change) on my Career Consulting Services page.
This all sounds good to me. I'd like to get started!
If coaching, my approach, and my fees are in line with the type of value you’re seeking, you can schedule a complimentary consultation with me to discuss your goals, challenges, and objectives related to coaching. During that time, I can also address your questions then. We can then make a call on whether it makes sense for us to work together.
Unfortunately, due to demand, I now only take a limited number of 1-on-1 clients, so this consultation allows us both to make a call on whether it would be suitable for us to work together. I will be honest with you if I feel the fit isn’t there, and I’d welcome you doing the same.
If you feel 1-on-1 coaching isn’t right for you, I’d invite you to check out some of my other career resources by joining my free Career & Personal Branding Resource Hub or enrolling in my online personal branding courses.
Thanks for your interest!
Get My Free Career Roadmap
& receive more resources to relaunch my own career