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The Client’s Role in a Successful Career Coaching Relationship

By Ford R. Myers
President, Career Potential, LLC

People who are seriously considering engaging the services of a career coach usually ask many questions about what the advisor “will do or should do” in order to make the coaching relationship work for the client. This is certainly reasonable and understandable. However, there are also several “prerequisites” or standards that the client must meet for the engagement to be successful. Unfortunately, these criteria are rarely discussed during the “contracting process” between coach and client.

In my work as a career coach, I make it clear to prospective clients that “this is a two-way street.” Of course, I commit to doing my part to the best of my ability. But the client also has important commitments and responsibilities in the coaching relationship.

In my opinion, there are at least six behaviors and attitudes which clients need to embrace to help make any career coaching engagement successful:

  • Treat the career coaching relationship as a real priority in your life (fully-invested; not an “afterthought” or a distraction)
  • Be coachable (open-minded, trusting, non-defensive, willing to go slightly outside of your comfort zone, flexible, committed to the process, etc.)
  • Show-up for appointments (in-person, via phone, video chat, etc.)
  • Do your “homework” and get it done on schedule (written exercises, reading, editing, research, etc.)
  • Be 100% honest with your career coach (candid, vulnerable, “real,” sincere, direct, unguarded, etc.)
  • Hold to your commitments and be “self-accountable” (with the support and structure of your coach)

Discussing these items candidly before getting started in a new coaching engagement has proven to be a productive exercise, and it has been mutually-beneficial. This “up front” conversation has at least five tangible benefits:

  • It “screens-out” prospective clients who are not a good fit for my programs
  • It empowers clients to take full responsibility for their part of the work
  • It sets clear expectations and eliminates incorrect assumptions
  • It allows me to hold clients accountable when they inevitably experience resistance, fear or avoidance during the career coaching program
  • It clears the way for clients to achieve their career goals more efficiently and productively (which is why they’ve engaged a career coach in the first place)

Of course, this concept of “mutual responsibility” may be applied to any type of professional coaching or consulting relationship – not just career coaching.

Coaches and clients alike really should focus more time and attention on the “contracting process” before the engagement begins, to ensure greater success and better outcomes!

About the Author:
Ford R. Myers is an award-winning career coach and President of Career Potential, LLC. He is author of the best-seller, Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring. Ford’s firm helps clients take charge of their careers, create the work they love, and earn what they deserve! He has held senior consulting positions at three of the nation’s largest career service firms. Ford’s articles have appeared in thousands of publications and web sites, and he has been interviewed on every major television and radio network. Ford has also conducted presentations at hundreds of companies, associations and universities. Learn more at

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