It’s no doubt that your career is a big factor in living a happy life. Jobs are not just jobs, but also spaces for personal development, community, and purpose. But the path isn’t always clear.

A career coach can guide you through some of the challenges, opportunities, or dilemmas along the way and provide a huge boost of professional confidence and insight. You may think that hiring one is just for those who are newly unemployed or those hitting roadblocks in a job search, but they can help you in many more scenarios than you might’ve considered.

Here are five surprising times you might need some professional guidance in your life.

1. When You Don’t Know How to Handle a Sticky Work Situation

Sometimes, something unexpected happens at work and you know—almost immediately—the best way to handle it. Other times, you’ve never encountered a situation like this before and you’re stumped. Maybe the company you’ve been at for two years is restructuring and changing your responsibilities. Or, you love your job, but hate your new manager. Or, perhaps you feel like you aren’t communicating your true value to the team.

Whatever your particular situation may be, an expert can help you examine all the moving parts and consider and analyze possible solutions (and consequences). He will highlight factors or details that you may have missed while experiencing an emotionally-charged situation.

Whether he gives you new strategies for communicating with a boss who has an incompatible managerial style or helps you see that you’re really interested in pursuing new opportunities, the right advisor can turn a difficult situation into opportunities for growth and learning.

2. When You’re Faced With a Mid-Career Slump

The mid-career slump can feel like a plateau—especially, if it’s been a while since you’ve considered your next step. That’s why coaching at this point is surprisingly transformative; it awakens curiosity and ambition in those who may have forgotten the excitement that got them into their career path in the first place.

Often times, someone in an industry or company for five or more years may realize that she’s ready to take on a larger role, begin training for an executive position, or consider a career pivot. A coach can help you set goals and write an action plan, advancing your career at a pivotal stage and guiding you into the next chapter of your work.

3. When You’re a First-Time Manager

Some people only seek advice when they’re looking to change careers or find a new job. But coaches have varied expertise, including leadership training, and helping people develop and manage a team.

Often times, new managers are overwhelmed by the responsibility, visibility, and confidence needed to guide subordinates effectively. If your role expands into mentoring staff, making hiring decisions, and running a department, you’ll need new skills.

An expert who specializes in this can share resources to help you develop, both as a manager as well as a creator. Not to mention—getting feedback from someone outside the office can prove invaluable when you aren’t exactly sure how to handle a dilemma (see: sticky work situation). Plus, this person can help you boost emotional intelligence and strengthen your ability to communicate clear goals, processes, and vision.

4. When Networking Is Not Your Forte

For many, networking is not a fun activity. Some experience anxiety, have awkward conversations, and struggle to be themselves in large groups of strangers.

If your network is suffering because you opt out of big events and stay away from groups outside of your immediate circle, a coach could become your new best friend. Remember:

  • Her profession requires ample amounts of networking, speaking, and pitching.
  • She can suggest the types of events that fit your strengths.
  • She can hold you accountable for meeting more people and finding your networking sweet spot.

When you invite a professional to become your networking partner, your previously dismal experiences can become anticipated opportunities to make new connections in your industry and practice a new skill.

5. When You Want to Build a Side-Business

Inc. contributor Minda Zetlin shares the findings of a recent University of Phoenix survey, writing, “[Of] the 1,600 adults surveyed, 63% of people in their 20s either owned their own businesses or wanted to someday, and of those who were not already entrepreneurs, 55% hoped to be in the future.” If you are planning to launch your own project (whether it be a company or just a gig), you will need several things: time management skills, tools to measure different goals, and a plan for how long you’d like to balance your full-time position and your new side business.

A coach can help you manage the expectations, resources, and goals for both your 9-to-5 and your side gig. They’re often multi-passionate individuals who once balanced several jobs or side projects—like when they were getting their own businesses off the ground. So, pick someone who has personal experience in managing and developing a side business. He can share what he’s learned as far as realistic goals and transition strategy.

Starting your own project or business while holding a full-time job can be daunting, but with the right guide, you may find yourself in the best of both worlds.

In short, career coaches strive to make your daily work experience more fulfilling, focused, and supported. They can advance the trajectory of your work and help you gain confidence in new phases of your career.

Photo of runner courtesy of Shutterstock.

Updated 6/19/2020