Career Advisor and the Career Coach…The Differences

Theories in practice

The next difference and perhaps the most fundamental is in the difference theoretical disciplines that underpin the two approaches for career coaches and a career advisor.


Career Advisors and Career Guidance build on theories from psychology and sociology, including differential, developmental, person-centred, narrative and social learning theories.


Career coaching derives from a different range of theoretical approaches, including cognitive behavioural, positive psychology, and existential psychology, as well as drawing from the person-centred approach.


In addition to this basic difference between coaching and guidance, there is another practical difference, that is more a shift in emphasis between the two disciplines, and that is around the usage of tools.  A Career advisor in general aren’t too reliant on tools and models.  Some, such as MRTI* have been more enthusiastically adopted by different sectors of the profession, but take up is by no means universal.


A career coach, by contrast, love tools.  Some of these tool are simply formalised structures for doing what we as careers advisers do, but some contain some quite new ideas and concepts.  There are some similarities and some clear differences but how is career guidance and career coaching perceived by the public?


Some people perceive career coaching to be more goal-orientated than career guidance, but this is not a fundamental or definitive difference.  A career coach and career advisor are both action orientated for clients who need exploration.


Secondly, it appears that people don’t really know the term guidance and have pre-conceived ideas about what a career advisor does.  If they were asked to put a name to a client-centred, impartial, non-judgemental one-to-one interaction with a professional about their career choices, do you know what they’d call it?  Career Coaching.


In a nutshell, a career coach and career advisor try to achieve the same thing using the same skills within the same interview structure.  Differences lie in the theoretical frameworks which underpin the practice and the relative reliance on formalised models and tools.


*MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) personality inventory based on Jungian type theory.


Credit: Julia Yates


Career Advisor