A Review of “Career Coaching: Fundamentals, Applications and Future Directions”
Book Review By April Schnell
The new publication, “Career Coaching: Fundamentals, Applications and Future Directions”, by Heather N. Maietta, is a welcome addition to the National Career Development Association’s Monograph Series in 2022. At 186 pages, “Career Coaching” is a well-written, comprehensive, and practical overview of the practice of career coaching. It contains a brief history of the profession, with a comparison of coaching and counseling. There are career coaching “best practice” resources related to developing the coaching relationship, using a variety of coaching techniques, developing strategies, and executing service, which will inspire and empower readers. The contents include chapters on fundamentals, select theories and models, ethics, assessment, coaching diverse populations, group career coaching, growing the practice and future directions. Each chapter has substantial, current references. A generous number of appendices, with a wealth of resources (i.e., sample exercises, agreements, links, and forms), are ready for use or adaptation by coaches.
The chapters are impressively structured, with principles and frameworks that reveal a depth and breadth of research, analysis, and careful reflection and stewardship on the part of the author. For example, the chapter on theory and application begins by setting the stage with theory’s role in coaching and a brief, foundation section on the learning process. The author acknowledges that most career coaches rarely use one theory and proceeds to provide overview and insights regarding a wide range of theories and useful models (including decision-making, goal-setting and behavioral interviewing models) as well as helpful information and examples on how to put the models into effective practice.
The author treats readers to an exceptional chapter on coaching diverse populations. It begins with demographic data on who career coaches serve, provides helpful terminology as a baseline, and explains why a multicultural world view directly impacts four practice areas (the career coach, coaching relationship, the client’s worldview, and coaching interventions). Readers may appreciate learning that the father of career development, Frank Parsons, began his practice serving displaced workers so employment would be accessible and attainable to all. The faces of oppression and definitions of culture (as dynamic patterns that are taught and are also dynamically created) convey the important impact of difference and diverse perspectives in career development and coaching, for both the coach and client.
An equally impressive chapter on assessments relates the history of assessment, application areas, considerations when administering and interpreting assessments, and strategies for how to nest assessments within coaching services. A distinction is made between formal and informal assessment, with purposes, advantages and cautions explored. The author addresses the importance of having appropriate credentials and ethically using assessments, while at the same time holding a view of the client as a whole person and considering what the client needs (for example, assessments need to go hand-in-hand with a “positive psychology debrief”, which is a structured coaching explanation for helping a client to understand and apply positive psychology strengths). The monograph content includes a spectrum of information from decades past and up to the present, with the impact to the coaching profession described. Particularly timely examples include a chapter on group coaching (which typically requires less effort, is less costly, and more equitable) and changes in workplace from Covid 19 (for example, the emergence of more remote and hybrid work choices).
NCDA is very fortunate to have such a knowledgeable and gifted writer for this monograph. Dr. Maietta is an Associate Program Chair and Associate Professor in the Higher Education Doctorate Program at Regis College. Her research centers around adult learners, college to career transitions, and workforce readiness, which adds to the depth and breadth of the content of this publication. In preparing this monograph, Dr. Maietta drew not only from her research but on her first-hand experience as a career coach and the founder of Career In Progress. A long-standing member of NCDA, Heather was awarded NCDA’s Career Practitioner of the Year award in 2015. She is a Board Certified Coach, a Certified Master of Career Services (CMCS), and a Facilitating Career Developments instructor. There are few authors who possess the expertise and range of experience in career development necessary to create a resource like this.
The author’s writing is organized for clarity and easy to follow. Chapters begin with Chapter Highlights and Learning Objectives, and end with a Knowledge Check, making the book appropriate for use as a course or training text. Terminology is defined to establish common language and the reading level is appropriate for its audience. In addition, a K-W-L tool (that is, what does the reader KNOW, WANT to learn, and reflection on what has been LEARNED) is used, at each chapter’s start and end, to help readers target their desired professional development. Important information is highlighted using a visual prompt called “Coach Corner”. Here, Dr. Maietta gives specific and very useful examples that show her real experience in working with clients. For example, Chapter 5 includes the following Coach Corner: “Informal assessments give me a chance to get to know my clients better and to connect with them where they are in the exploration process” (Maietta, 2022, p. 100).
It is particularly refreshing to read a book with such a high level of coherence across chapters. For example, chapters on fundamentals, theory, and assessment include information on ethics and coaching diverse clients, rather than just having separate, stand-alone chapters for each. It has the effect of raising the importance of diversity and ethics, and it also creates a more realistic representation of the career development profession and the systems in which coaches work. The monograph's content is presented both from client and coach perspective, with a tone that demonstrates respect for clients’ power, voices, and identities. Enough information about a given topic is provided so that it can be useful immediately, and the author also provides additional resources for when the reader wants to learn more. Content balances focus both on effective coaching processes and outcomes/impacts.
The sheer volume of information and ideas can be a bit overwhelming. This book is best taken in chapter or even sub-chapter chunks, with time to discuss or reflect in between.
I am confident that, “Career Coaching: Fundamentals, Applications and Future Directions“, will become an important professional development tool for newer and aspiring coaches, established practitioners, and educators who increasingly embed career development into their classes, sometimes in partnership with career coach educators. The text can be used as the basis of creative conversations for career coach practitioner professional development groups. Dr. Maietta and NCDA have provided a resource of great integrity to support the profession and help it continue to grow generatively. Career coaching is a noble profession and readers will take pride in the services that they provide. This book is a boon at a time when the need for high quality career development coaching has never been greater, the resources to do so are stretched, and the attention to coaches’ well-being and professional development so deserved.
Maietta, H. N. (2022). Career coaching: Fundamentals, applications and future directions. National Career Development Association.
This publication is available in the NCDA Career Resource Store in both print and ebook (PDF) versions.
April D. Schnell, M.Ed., is a career development specialist who has provided direct services and shaped career systems in higher education, the private sector, and PK-12. She is currently translating models and methods of complexity science to career development and to launch a career development community of praxis for experiential learning and adaptive action. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org