by David Alexandru Timis and Maria Alurralde*
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Great Resignation, a phenomenon identified by McKinsey & Co. in a 2021 research paper, accelerated existing trends in remote work, e-commerce and automation, with up to 25% more workers than previously estimated potentially needing to switch occupations in the coming years.
This constantly evolving context brings a variety of challenges for many professionals. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Future of Jobs Report, 44% of workers’ skills will be disrupted in the next five years, with an increase in the importance of cognitive skills, analytical thinking, creative thinking and technology literacy.
In a world of work that is undergoing significant transformations, the demand for career coaches is on the rise. Career coaches support individuals in navigating career transitions, achieving their professional goals and managing the complexities of a volatile labour market. And recently, a new trend in career coaching has emerged: AI-powered career coaches.
The advent of AI-powered career coaches
AI-powered career coaches are tools that leverage artificial intelligence to support people in their career journeys. By collecting and analysing large data sets of coaching processes, these platforms offer online career coaching guidance for people at all stages of their professional lives and help them make more informed decisions concerning their careers.
The surge of AI-powered career coaches comes as a result of the rapid advancements in technology, in particular the rise of generative AI tools in recent months. Just as these tools will change the future of work, they will also transform traditional career coaching.
An AI-powered career coach usually works with data points collected from its users, such as their career goals, skills, work experience, education and the challenges they are facing in their professional paths. These insights can help draft resumes and cover letters, interpret job descriptions, explore different careers and stage mock job interviews. Recent research that surveyed HR professionals working in a range of different industries found that 59% of them believe advice from AI can help people find their dream job.
Comparing human with AI-powered career coaches
With the advent of AI-powered career coaches, there comes the question of what they can offer compared to traditional in-person or online coaching delivered by human coaches. While both AI career coaches and human coaches support people in their career paths, they differ in terms of costs, accessibility and personalization, and the level of human connection.
A traditional career coaching session has an average cost of between $100 and $150. In contrast, AI career coaching tools are more affordable – and sometimes even free – meaning that they are available to virtually anyone, as long as they have a device and a stable internet connection. Such tools can democratise access to career coaching services.
Moreover, AI-powered career coaches are available seven days a week at any time. People don’t need to schedule an appointment in advance, as they would need to with a human coach. Also, since AI career coaches can collect and analyze vast amounts of data, they can provide job seekers tailored career advice about a wide range of industries.
One of the main features of traditional coaching is that it relies on a one-to-one connection between the coach and their client. For this reason, there’s a limit to how much someone can connect with an AI-powered career coach. A human career coach can empathize with a client and mirror their behaviour in ways that AI cannot replicate, at least not at this stage.
AI-powered career coaches are here to stay
A recent research report that compared AI-powered coaching and human coaching concluded that, while AI coaches can’t perform the same roles as human coaches, they can democratize coaching and make it accessible to a wider audience. Therefore, AI-powered career coaches are here to stay. They don’t need to be seen as competitors to human coaches, but complementary, because they are useful tools that can be leveraged by human coaches to improve the breadth and depth of the career coaching services they offer to their clients.
*Global Communications Manager, Generation and Global Social Media Associate, Generation
**first published in: Weforum.org