Planning and implementing a career advising program or career coaching business can be a daunting task. Taking intentional steps and designing your program or business with a proactive approach will ensure that you provide the best service for your clients. From strategic planning to implementation, it takes hard work and dedication be a success.

First and foremost, your own professional development should be a top priority before you embark on this path. While life experience is certainly a critical factor in preparing to serve as a career advisor or career coach, be sure that you possess the core competencies these roles require.

There are many programs available; we offer certification through Kuder Career Advisor Training®  or Kuder® Career Development Facilitator Training. Core competencies include program management, planning, promotion, and marketing.

Key Questions for Success

You’ll need to identify your program or business’s objectives, goals, and key stakeholders. Identify who you are serving, why they need your services, and how you can reach them.

As with any business, plan for how you will evaluate your services by identifying “key performance indicators,” or measures for success. Ask yourself the following questions to begin the process of effective planning and development of your career advisor program:

Avoid Common Pitfalls

After building a structure and plan for your career advising program or career coaching business, take into account the common pitfalls that may arise from poor planning:

Pitfall #1:  Your program is providing services, but the lack of cohesiveness and direction is making it hard to manage.

Without clear results, a career advising program lacks direction. You and/or your staff members are pushing ahead but may not have a unified purpose for the program or the clients.

Budgeting becomes difficult because there is no documented strategy for the program. Answer yourself, What are the results your organization needs from the program? Starting with the end in mind will help you build a structured program.

Pitfall #2: You’re unclear about who you’re serving and why they need your services.

Are you reaching out to everyone? Does the promotion of your program lack focus? Do you know who you are serving and what they need from the program? Identifying the demographics and psychographics of your audience is essential.

Demographics include geography, income, education, ethnicity, and nationality. They are the characteristics that are given to a population. Psychographics are the study of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles.

With an understanding of both demographics and psychographics, you can target promotion, services, and resources that will meet the needs of your clients.

Pitfall #3: You’re not evaluating your services.

Information loses value if it isn’t being evaluated. Evaluate your program with indicators that can be measured quantitatively and qualitatively. Create a consistent schedule for monitoring to ensure that you are reaching the results of your program.

Not only might you track the number of clients, you might find that surveying the clients will help you gain a better understanding of their perspective. Even the best programs fail if the client feels like their needs aren’t met.

Program planning requires careful analysis of required results, stakeholders, demographics, psychographics, and evaluation in order to be successful.

Taking shortcuts in any of these areas can lead to common pitfalls in career advising or career coaching management and implementation. Bottom line: take the time to plan and measure your progress.

This article first appeared in the Kuder Blog on December 4, 2015