Do You Need a Coach to Get Your Dream Job?

Recently, a school district posted an ad for an assistant principal. They received more than 150 applicants, met with 25 for a pre-screening interview, and then a hiring committee interviewed 12 semi-finalists. The Kentucky Derby had 16 horses “run for the roses”. Those horses had the benefit of the best trainers in the world prepare them. Trying to get a leadership job is very much like a horse race.

Extending the horse racing metaphor. Have you ever gotten a tip on a horse or a stock or a restaurant? Tips are for amateurs. A tip is nothing but an opinion. I never made money on stock tips, and am usually disappointed with tips in general. Tipsters aren’t coaches. A good experienced coach teaches you strategies, rehearses you, gives you feedback, and acts as your cheerleader.

How much of an investment does a serious candidate make to get a leadership job? There are education expenses such as application fees, tuition, books, and expenses for commuting… then there’s buying your interview suit or outfit. That’s at least $10,000 to $15,000. Does investing $45 to attend a workshop, or $20 to buy a book, or a few hundred dollars for a coach make sense?  Your salary will increase by 20%. What can a coach do for you? Does coaching actually work?

Being a well-coached candidate can mean the difference between playing a good game of checkers compared to being a fine chess player. A good coach will prepare you in: honing your resume and cover letter; presenting yourself with self-confidence; telling your story as to why you’re the right match; anticipating and preparing impressive and unique responses to the interviewers’ questions; and strategizing what to say, what not to say, and how to read body language.  And yes, coaching does work. Coaching should also be confidential. There’s no reason for anyone to know the secret to your success.

Your university probably offers free workshop in preparing your resume and letter, and provides a list of interviewing tips. However, an experienced coach has a network of former clients and colleagues. He/she knows the school districts and their inside politics. You will be guided in how to fashion your approach to the unique needs and wants of the district.

A good coach also helps build your confidence, guides you in closing the deal, and assists you in negotiating your contract.  Don’t leave getting a leadership job up to chance. Don’t rely on tips. Remember, getting promoted is a lifetime gain which requires a short-term investment. The best investment you will ever make is in yourself.


Dr. Larry Aronstein provides one-on-one coaching to school leaders and aspiring leaders in preparing for interviews and in the preparation of resumes.

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