Career Coach, Mentor or Advisor? Who Should You Talk To?

Updated: Feb 27, 2020

Have you ever felt stuck in your career and wanted to speak to someone who you feel comfortable with? Many of us have, including me. When we hit a glass ceiling or don’t get selected for a promotion or a job we applied for, we tend to develop certain feelings that impact our motivation or make us doubt ourselves. Speaking to someone you trust is important to help you get clarity on what is going on and what can you do to achieve your career goals.

To know who you should talk to, it is important to know what role the person plays and how that aligns with what you are looking for. I see three categories for the people you can have a career conversation with:

1) Career Coaches

2) Career Mentors

3) Career Advisors

Knowing the role each can play will help you decide who you want to talk to.

Career Coaches:

Ok – Let me put that straight. Coaching is coaching, it doesn’t specialize in a certain area and coaches don’t get trained on a specialty. Some coaches, however, decide to take a stream and stick to it because they feel they bring additional value to their clients when they specialize in a certain domain. Can they use their coaching methodology for other disciplines, yes, for sure.

The career coach helps you discover your capabilities and clarify your goals. They facilitate a process that illuminates the light within you so you define what you want and the best strategies that will help you achieve your career goal. Career coaches won’t have answers for your questions, but they use powerful techniques to allow you to find those answers, which stick better and are more convincing to you.

Career Mentors:

The career mentors have had the career experience you are looking for and they can share it with you. They might have personally experienced the same situation you are in, have seen someone experiencing it, or had an experience that relates to your situation. Think of the mentor this way: someone who you look at and say I want to be like them (role model).

Mentors also won’t answer your questions, but they will share stories and experience in a natural way that you may relate to and provoke ideas to do certain actions leading to achieving your career goals. You may approach someone that you admire and hold in high regard to ask their opinion on a particular matter, and then mentoring happens organically.

Career Advisors:

The career advisors usually have experience in the area they are advising. For example, legal advisors are usually lawyers, investment advisors are usually financial specialists. Career advisors are usually experts in Human Resources and they have hired and nurtured employees. They understand what you are looking for, and they also understand what employers want. Hence they answer your questions and they can advise you on what you have to do.

Advisors are specific and they point you to the right direction. They guide you through the process, may do the task for you (for a fee) and they are highly professional, like professional resume writing.

So, now that you have an idea about the difference between Coach, Mentor and Advisor, it is you who decides who to speak to based on what you are trying to achieve. For sure there are recommendations in different scenarios, but what if you can find one person to talk to who can do all three?

Firas Zaytoun

Career Coach

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