Career Coaching Vs Career Counselling: Should I Go For Either?

By Tang Kai Long   •   4 min read

When trying to get help with our careers, most of us can’t help but wonder “Why spend money for something I can get for free?”

But what many do not know is that they are essentially two very different things. The most prominent differences being the duration and the nature of the relationship formed.

We spoke to Cindi Wirawan, a career coach with almost 7 years of experience in career coaching and had her break it down for us. Understanding the differences is then key to helping you make an informed decision.

Here are the 2 main differences between Career Coaching and Career Counselling.

1) Duration of the engagement: Long-term relationship Vs Short-term support

What is so different about career coaching when we compare them to career services or career counselling that schools offer to their students?

I studied at NUS business school, and they have one of the best career services. But what they offered when we were in university was training on how to write resumes, how to answer interview questions, and then maybe 1 or 2 session with them to review your resume. That’s where the relationship ends.

If I’m not wrong, based on what my clients tell me, a lot of them went for the free sessions that are available for Singaporeans, and they are also similar in a way where the relationship ends after a few sessions. If you really want more you have to be put on a waiting list and that depends on your priority and the different criteria you need to meet.

Those coaches are very overworked. I have friends in there and the number of caseworks they have is crazy. They go from rank and file, blue collar, all the way to white collar.

For me I specialise in PMET (Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians), and the difference is most of my clients work with me for at least three months.

So I work with them on a 3-months journey, starting with getting to know them and asking a lot of questions. It’s what I call a discovery call, where I get to know their goals, whether we would be a good fit.

Because not everyone will be a good fit – chemistry wise.

I then find out how many sessions they really need, what their goals are, whether it be finding a job or getting a promotion.

During the 3 months, they work with me to achieve their goals and along the way new goals may pop up. Sometimes they hit their goals earlier, sometimes they require more time, but it really is an ongoing long term support.

2) Depth of the engagement: Trust-based partnership Vs Surface-level conversations

When we talk to jobseekers and understand the solutions they are using today, we notice that a lot of people don’t resort to career counsellors in their schools because they feel like they won’t tell a stranger all those things about themselves.

What is your experience regarding this and should they be worried about that?

I can totally relate to that, because back when I was in NUS business, I had the same concerns.

When I went to the career counsellor, I felt like I could only talk about very surface things. Things like is my resume’s formatting right? Is the font size okay? Where should I place my achievements?

But does the counsellor really know what I want? Can she tell if this is something I’m really good at, or is she just doing her job?

So I can totally relate to that, and that boils down to relationship, right?

Coaching isn’t just a relationship, it’s a partnership. So for me, the first session is super important, to establish if you have chemistry with that person and whether or not they trust you.

If you cannot trust the coach, then he or she would not be the right coach for you. The more open you are with your fears and your concerns, the easier it is for the coach to help.

Likewise, if I have clients that I feel are not a good fit for me, I would not even offer them the option to work with me.

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Keep in mind that a career is something you will have to be committed to for the rest of your life. Career satisfaction isn’t something you can put a price on. If you’re still unsure about career coaching, do check out other related articles.

What Exactly Is Career Coaching?

Career Coach Answers The 2 Most Common Concerns Most Jobseekers Have

Tang Kai Long

TalentTribe Writer

If his life were a book, the title would be "The Woes Of A Jobseeker". Understanding the jobseeking-induced torment, Kai hopes to help individuals in the same plight through the articles he writes.


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