Should You Work with a Career Coach (And What to Look For)?, with Sonja Price

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You’re ready to make a change in your career but you’re not sure of the exact direction you want to take. Your vision should lead to opportunities to better your position over time. If you don’t know where to begin, Find Your Dream Job guest Sonja Price suggests utilizing a career coach. The right coach can help you determine your path and get clarity on what your goals are. If it’s time for the next step in your career, the right career coach can help you get there. 

About Our Guest:

Sonja Price is a top career strategist, salary advisor, and leadership expert.

Resources in This Episode:

  • “Increase Your Income” Masterclass Discover How To Increase Your Income By $20,000 to $100,000 or MORE Per YEAR!… By Making ONE Simple Change To Your Career! Watch this short 14-minute FREE Masterclass to learn more.
  • Dynamo Careers Website + Other Resources Explore free articles and career guides that can help professionals understand how to find meaningful work and earn more money. Learn how to advance your career now. Contacts us today!


Find Your Dream Job, Episode 350:

Should You Work with a Career Coach (And What to Look For)?, with Sonja Price

Airdate: June 1, 2022

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. 

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.

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A career coach can make a big difference in a job search. 

Do you think about working with one? Sonja Price joins us to discuss if you should work with a career coach and what to look for. 

She’s a top career strategist, salary advisor, and leadership expert. 

Sonja helps professionals find work with greater meaning, better work-life balance, and higher pay.

She joins us from Seattle, Washington. 

Well, let’s jump right into it, Sonja. How can a career coach help a job seeker? 

Sonja Price:

Well, a career coach can help a job seeker in a number of different ways. I think first and foremost, the role of a really high-quality career coach is to help a job seeker identify the clarity in what they really need to pursue their life’s work, their mission, and their vision. 

So, oftentimes, I come across candidates that they think they might be really clear on what they’re looking for, but when they actually go to search for a job in the job market, they may have a very confused search process where they’re searching for a wide variety of different titles, or looking at different industries or different organizations. So, the more that you can clarify your overall goals and vision and mission, and ensure that’s in alignment with longer-term, like, you know, a short and long term career goals, I mean you’ll actually have this very strategic career road map that you’re working from so that you know how to advance your career over time. 

This is oftentimes what a career coach can help you with is clarifying your mission and vision and ensuring that each and every single step that you take in your career is going to lead you to even bigger and better opportunities over time. 

Mac Prichard:

Why can’t a job seeker do that on their own, Sonja? Why do they need to turn to a coach? 

Sonja Price:

Well, they certainly can do it on their own if they have that clarity. Sometimes I find that, you know, working with a career coach, someone who has the bigger picture vision, can help you identify what other opportunities might be a good idea for you to pursue. 

So, just like you might reach out to a mentor or a sponsor – someone who has gone before you that has expertise in your field – you know, maybe they have the oversight to give you that strategic vision to help you understand, okay, here are some ideas, some options to consider, here’s some action steps, here’s some people you might want to talk to, and if you do these things, it’s gonna continue to broaden your horizon and, you know, give you that more strategic roadmap to work from. 

Mac Prichard:

What are the signs that you might not be clear about your clarity? Some listeners may think, well, yes, I’m not sure what I want to do. That would be terrific to get some help. But you mentioned that sometimes you meet job seekers who think they know what they want, but they actually could benefit from additional work on getting clarity. What are the signs that a job seeker might be in those circumstances? 

Sonja Price:

Yeah, I mean a couple of clues that I often look for is, you know, sometimes when people come to me, they’re saying, you know, I don’t really know what I want in my career, or they’re saying, I’m really burnt out. I’ve done this thing for x number of years, but I want something new and different. Or, they start their job search, and they’re not very clear about what actual titles that they should be looking for. 

And that could show up in terms of, you know, sometimes I work with project managers that might be better suited for a program management or a product management role, or you know, I work with someone who has been a chief of staff, but perhaps they should actually be looking at director of operations roles, or you know, they’ve had kind of an ad-hoc career; they’ve just kind of patched together a variety of different jobs. 

This happens a lot, actually. I talk to people who, you know, they’ve just had quite a bit of luck in their career. They’ve had specific jobs that have been offered to them, they were strong in a specific skill set in a specific way, and they were the perfect person for that job at that time in their career, but now they’re at a crossroads. Maybe they’re considering something different, or maybe they’ve, you know, grown their skill set in a certain area, and they want to be able to utilize that skill set more, but they don’t know what are the actual job titles that they should be searching for or pursuing, or they don’t know how to position themselves in the right way. 

So, that positioning is so key in knowing that if you want to go after a specific role, in your resume, you can’t just say, I’ve done this and this and this and this, if this and this and this and this is not the exact thing of what they are hiring for. So, if you’re looking to make any kind of significant transition as you move into the next phase of your career, you want to ensure that you really know how to position yourself in the right way for that specific type of role. 

So, there’s many many clues that I look for; those are just a few of them, and those are things that listeners might want to pay attention to, to see, you know, is it time for them to work with a career coach? And if so, why or for what reason? 

Mac Prichard:

You mentioned at the start of our conversation that career coaches can help bring clarity about career goals, and then a moment ago, you talked about how a coach can help position you for that next position once you have clarity about where you want to go. What are some other common services that a typical career coach might offer?

Sonja Price:

Yeah, so career coaching spans the full spectrum of helping a candidate or a job seeker gain clarity on what they’re looking for, then knowing how to position themselves in the right way so that they can feasibly land the roles of what they have identified in that first initial phase of, you know, clarifying your career roadmap and knowing exactly what you’re going after, and part of this is knowing how to position yourself over time. 

So it’s like, what’s your next role? But you also want to be thinking beyond that; not just what’s your next role, but what’s the next role after that going to be? So that whatever job you move into next, that that’s actually well positioning you for the future. So, there’s this very big picture that you want to be taking into consideration. 

So it’s, you know, achieving clarity in your career roadmap. It’s in the positioning, and that can show up through your resume and through your LinkedIn profile, as well as a cover letter or what I actually refer to as a networking letter, which is how you reach out and engage with people, and then that gets into, you know, job search techniques, and there’s a variety of different ways that you can go about your job search. Some of them are much more strategic rather than others, and then, you know, interview support, and again, through the interviewing and networking, you really want to make sure you’re positioning yourself in the exact right way. 

I think, oftentimes, people fall into a trap of, they just tend to talk about their past background and history, and they have a lot of success to pull from. But are they featuring the right success stories for the right audience at the right time? So, when you work with a career coach, they’re gonna help you know how to position yourself, but it’s really about knowing how to market and sell yourself. 

And then, we also look at salary negotiation and total comp negotiation. So, you know, are you ensuring that you are maximizing your earning potential? And are you accepting the right type of opportunity? 

And then, moving forward from there, a career coach can also help you ensure that you continue to advance your career moving forward. So, once you land your new role, do you hit the ground running? Are you building a strong foundation for yourself? What’s the kind of reputation that you’re building for yourself in your new workplace? Are you getting introduced to key influencers and key decision-makers? Are you doing that internal networking where you’re getting the right exposure that is then going to help, you know, open up opportunities for promotion and for you to work on the strategic level projects that are gonna continue to help you advance your career forward over time? 

Mac Prichard:

Often, when job seekers think about getting professional advice during a search, two items come to mind – one is a resume, and the other is a LinkedIn page. Is that something you should turn to a career coach for help with, Sonja, or are there specialists who focus just on, say, updating resumes or building LinkedIn pages? 

Sonja Price:

Yeah, a career coach can definitely help you with those components, and they should. That should be a core component of their offering. However, there are also resume experts and LinkedIn experts who only focus on, you know, one or two of those things. 

If you’re super clear on what you want, you know what you’re moving towards, and you could, you know, with articulate clarity, be able to tell a resume writer, this is exactly what I want my resume to say, like, build me a resume and a LinkedIn profile for this type of job. Then, you know, maybe a resume writer or LinkedIn profile writer could be a good fit for you. 

But if you’re lacking that clarity, I would strongly recommend working with a career coach first, and then they can probably also continue to help you with the resume and LinkedIn profile, and, you know, make sure that whoever you’re working with, that if you are gonna work with a career coach, try to find somebody that can give you that high-level overview support to where they are helping you build out that very strategic career roadmap so that you’re not just getting another job, you’re actually moving towards something that’s going to give you a, you know, an even bigger and better, more fulfilling and more rewarding career over the short and long-term. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, terrific. I want to take a break, Sonja. But when we come back, I know you have a list of tips that you recommend job seekers follow when hiring a coach, and I’d like to go through those. 

So stay with us. When we return after the break, Sonja Price will continue to share her advice about not only how you should work with a career coach but what to look for when you’re ready to hire one. Stay with us. 

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Now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Sonja Price. 

She’s a top career strategist, salary advisor, and leadership expert. 

Sonja helps professionals find work with greater meaning, better work-life balance, and higher pay.

She joins us from Seattle, Washington. 

Now, Sonja, before the break, we were talking about why you might work with a career coach, and now let’s talk about what to look for when you’re ready to hire a career coach. 

You’ve got a set of tips that you share with your clients when they’re considering hiring a coach, and the first step you recommend a job seeker take is to be clear about the coaching you need. Tell us more about that, Sonja. Why is that important? 

Sonja Price:

Well, you know, if you are looking for a career coach, you definitely want to find someone who can help you find the clarity that you need in your career, which means that you might want to find somebody who has, you know, a plethora of experience working in your field. You know, for myself, I work with a lot of clients who are in tech. I’m very specialized in tech. I know the job market. I know what companies typically hire for what, what the average pay ranges are across each of those companies. And so, when you’re looking for a career coach, you definitely want to find somebody who has that strategic oversight in the area that you’re looking to move into or move towards. 

I think you should also be looking for, you know, does that career coach have – what other results? What other results have they produced with other clients? What are the results they’ve produced within your field? Have they worked with people like you before? 

And you can look online for folks. You can ask for referrals. You should definitely be looking at what are the results that they produce with other clients? You should look through their website. Does this person resonate with you? Can you imagine yourself working with them? What would a typical coaching call look like with them? You know, most career coaches are going to offer a complimentary consultation. I highly recommend, you know, taking advantage of that, maybe actually, even look for a few different types of career coaches. 

Go through a couple of different complimentary consultations, interview them, ask them all the questions that you want to. And identify, you know, are they giving you complete and comprehensive answers?  Do you see this as someone who’s really going to be able to help you accomplish your goals? Have they produced those similar types of results for other people that you’ve worked with? What is their professional experience? You know, did they work in a previous type of position like that themselves? Are they a former recruiter? Are they a former executive? You know, like what have they done in their past background and history? And what makes them qualified to be the one to serve you at this point and juncture in your career right now?  

Mac Prichard:

I like your emphasis on asking about results that prospective coaches produced for other clients. Are there common results that you should expect every coach to talk about that you should consider when making a decision about hiring?  

Sonja Price:

I have found that every career coach is a little bit different, and some differences in what I’ve seen across different types of career coaches is there are some coaches who tend to be a little bit more focused on, you know, let me dig in and help you understand your personality. And let’s figure out, who are you? And what do you love? And what would be, you know, this ideal, you know, job out there for you? 

And then, there’s other career coaches who are, you know, well, how much money do you want to make? And let’s identify the specific opportunities that can help you make that kind of money. And then there are coaches that merge those two things together, and then there’s probably other types of coaches as well. 

I think you probably want to be looking for someone who has a very comprehensive approach across all of those areas, and I’ve found that most coaches kind of lean one way or another. 

I am a big fan of practical. Like, I like to help the individuals find exactly what it is that they’re looking for, but I also want to marry that with the job market. So, we want to be looking for feasible opportunities for individuals to do what they love, but also make sure that there’s a plethora of those kinds of opportunities in the marketplace, and not only that but let’s make sure that there’s a plethora of those kinds of opportunities that also pay within the pay range of what people are looking for. 

I like to help people make really big jumps in their career. So, you know, I typically work with people who are making pretty big transformations in their career, whether they’re looking to move into leadership, move into a higher level of leadership, they’re looking to reinvent themselves, and do something new and different that they’ve never done before, or they’re looking to make a pretty big jump in their income where they’re looking to make, you know, twenty, thirty, fifty, a hundred thousand dollars more per year than what they were previously making. 

Mac Prichard:

You mentioned reaching out and interviewing several prospective career coaches. Do you have a minimum number you recommend, Sonja? 

Sonja Price:

I mean, I think whatever feels right to you. You know, sometimes you might meet with one career coach, and you’re like, this is it. This is my person, you know. Let’s do it. Let’s dive in. Other times you might want to keep looking until you really, you know, you find that – I always look for what’s that internal, yes? You know, when you meet with someone, is it like, “Oh yes, this is my person. This is my expert. This is my guide.”? And so, you know, you may need to meet with five or six people before you find that individual, or maybe you keep looking until you find that exact perfect fit. That’s the specialist in your field. 

I don’t think that a, you know, depending upon where you’re looking and where you’re finding people, you know, you might want to meet with two or three or four, but I don’t think that there’s a set number of folks that you should meet with. I think it’s just more important to find the right fit. The right fit for you from an expertise perspective, from a personality perspective, and probably also from a budget perspective as well. 

Mac Prichard:

You mentioned budget. Let’s talk about pricing. How do you recommend having that conversation with a coach a job seeker might be considering hiring? 

Sonja Price:

Yeah, I mean, many coaches will have their pricing on their website, or it might be through a conversation over a consultation. I recommend having that consultation no matter what because, you know, usually the coach is gonna have some recommendations on which package or which offering is gonna be the best fit for you based on your needs and your desires and, you know, what the goals are you’re trying to accomplish. 

Just to talk about some common prices, you know, earlier we talked about, you know, the differences between a resume writer and a career coach. There’s also, like, life coaches and executive coaches. You know, I’ve found that if you’re looking for a resume writer, it’s probably gonna be somewhere between, you know, a couple of hundred dollars to a thousand dollars. If you’re looking to work with a career coach, you’re probably looking somewhere between a thousand dollars to maybe even up to twenty-thousand dollars, depending upon your level, your title, your background, your expertise. And then, you know, if you’re looking for like an executive coach, maybe it’s gonna be more between ten thousand and fifty thousand. 

Mac Prichard:

What about the length of the engagement for a career coach? Is there a typical period? A month? Several months? What’s been your experience? 

Sonja Price:

That’s a really great question. I’m so glad that you brought that up. You know, generally, my goal is to help clients find a new job within one to six months. You know, one month, I typically see that as being the minimum, usually because we’re, you know, first, initially, we’re looking to lay that background and foundation of getting your career roadmap built out, getting some of those core foundational pieces in place, your resume, your LinkedIn profile, talking about your job search. You know, folks who are unemployed, if they have a little bit more time to dedicate to the process, it’ll probably move a little bit quicker. 

If you are employed, and you want to be a little bit more selective about the types of roles that you’re looking for, you know, probably between, I would say, two to four months is usually kind of a sweet spot of landing a new role. 

And then, you know, sometimes, depending upon level, you know, the higher up that you are, if you’re in a higher ranking leadership position, sometimes that can take longer to find the right, specific exact right type of job for you. So maybe that might take six months or maybe even a little bit longer. 

Typically I work with people, you know, anywhere from, you know, my packages, I usually work with people from six to nine months, like the packages are good for six to nine months, but folks will oftentimes get the results that they’re looking for significantly faster than that. 

Mac Prichard:

Finally, I know that you recommend paying attention to chemistry when you’re considering hiring someone as a career coach. Tell us more about why that matters. And how can you tell if the chemistry is good when you’re considering someone? 

Sonja Price:

Yeah, I mean, having hired a number of coaches on my own for myself, life coaches, executive, like, leadership coaches when I was working in corporate, even now that I have my own business, I’ve hired a whole variety of business coaches, and I have found over time, you know, finding someone that is a good personality match, and what I mean by that is, you know, it’s not like, they don’t need to be your best friend, but we do need to find someone who’s going to listen to you, who’s going to help ask the right types of questions, they’re going to nudge you and push you to move beyond your comfort zone. 

So, can you find someone who has that right type of approach for you? And sometimes, that might mean actually asking for them to coach you in the way that you want to be coached. And sometimes, when I meet with clients, I ask them, what kind of coach are you looking for here? Do you want someone who’s gonna shoot straight with you, get right to the point, you know, no fluff, and just get right to it? Or are you looking for someone that can be a little bit more gentle and kind? 

You know, and so, finding the right coach who can flex on that with you, and that you just immediately feel like there’s a good fit there. Sometimes I find that coaches and, you know, people, in general, in the world, we don’t have enough active listening in this world. So, can you find someone who actually listens to the full extent of what you need to communicate, so you can get it out there what you want and what you need without going into too much story? 

So, I find that there is kind of this happy medium of, you know, like finding someone who will listen to you but is also not gonna let you, you know, go on and on and on with various different stories. That they’re gonna help you get to the point in a very quick and succinct way, but that they can be kind and compassionate along the process. 

When you’re a job seeker, sometimes this is a really hard process. Right? Especially if you’ve been laid off or if you’ve been unemployed for a period of time, maybe you need someone who can be really compassionate and understanding of your situation and can help you overcome, you know, any potential hurdles or blocks or confidence challenges, and you want someone who can listen to you and help you move beyond it, so you can build up that confidence and get out there and go for it, and go for what you actually want, and not just settle and accept the next thing that comes along, but that you’re actually gonna find something that truly is a good fit for you, and that is enough of a stretch to help you continue to grow your career, but not so big that you’re gonna be, you know, full of anxiety and panicking as you move forward. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, it’s been a terrific conversation, Sonja. Now, tell us, what’s next for you? 

Sonja Price:

Well, I just launched a new master class, it is called, How To Make Twenty To One Hundred Thousand Dollars or More per Year by Making One Simple Change To Your Career. You can find it at, and there I will tell you how to make one simple change to your career that can help you make up to twenty thousand to one hundred thousand dollars more per year. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, terrific. I know listeners can also learn more about your other services by visiting your website,, and that you invite listeners to connect with you on LinkedIn, and if they do reach out, I hope they’ll mention they heard on Find Your Dream Job. 

Now, Sonja, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about if you should work with a career coach and what to look for if you do? 

Sonja Price:

You know, to anyone out there who’s considering working with a career coach, I just really encourage you to, you know, go after your dreams and don’t settle for less, and if a career coach is the expert guide to help you get there, then please, you know, engage with them, and utilize their services to the fullest. Career coaches – we’re here to help you. It is our passion. It is our mission to be here to serve and guide you. So, if you want something bigger in your career, go for it, and find the right type of expert to help you get there. 

Mac Prichard:

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Again, that’s 

Next week, our guest will be Tejal Wagadia. 

She’s a LinkedIn Top Voice and award-winning talent leader. 

Tejal helps people learn what recruiters want through her blog, LinkedIn articles, and social media posts.

Research shows that women are less likely than men to negotiate salary offers. Why does this happen, and what can women do differently?

Join us next Wednesday when Tejal Wagadia and I talk about why women don’t negotiate salaries and how to do it well.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

This show is produced by Mac’s List. 

Susan Thornton-Hough schedules our guests and writes our newsletter. Lisa Kislingbury Anderson manages our social media.

Our sound engineer is Matt Fiorillo. Ryan Morrison at Podfly Productions edits the show. Dawn Mole creates our transcripts. And our music is by Freddy Trujillo.

This is Mac Prichard. See you next week.