The Dive Model in Career Coaching


A Coaching Model By Joanna Poplawska, Leadership Coach, UNITED KINGDOM

The Dive Model in Career Coaching

Identifying the route to a fulfilling and successful career has never been easy. However, nowadays choices are even more complicated than ever before. Career paths are much more fluid and less predictable, with new jobs emerging, new opportunities for career breaks, flexible and remote working, and an increasingly later retirement age. Coaching can play a truly supportive role in helping people make the most of their skills and experiences and think creatively about their career options and approaches.

Most clients who sign up for career coaching sessions are dissatisfied with their current work situation and their career progressions – they are ready to consider different options.  This dissatisfaction can be caused either by external factors, for example by organizational restructuring, or by individual and personal factors, for example, retirement planning.

The DIVE coaching model describes a four-step process to use in career coaching sessions to help clients develop their creativity, assist them with coming up with new career strategies, and build their courage to try them out.

Diving is an activity that seems adventurous and different from our everyday chores; leaving a safe and comfortable environment to enter a slightly mysterious yet beautiful world that brings different experiences, sensations, actions, and new knowledge to us. The diving metaphor is used by us in everyday speech- to dive into a subject is to create an understanding and actions beyond the present status.

Diving leads to a recognizable achievement; the experiencing and understanding of something different and rich, usually following moments of curiosity and the eagerness to explore.

The Dive Coaching Model

The DIVE model in career coaching helps to stimulate creative thinking and to ignite curiosity.

D- Define
I- Identify
V – Venture
E- Evaluate


People’s careers are influenced by all aspects of our lives; family, relationships, finances, and wellbeing. The crucial part of the career coaching conversation is to establish the need for change.

In career coaching, there are different demographics of clients, and often their understanding of their career needs varies. g. It might be different amongst young people at the beginning of their careers in comparison to very experienced professionals. Needs can also vary from needing a new and intellectual challenge to the need to have the family life that they want.

In a way, the client “dives” into a better understanding of their needs. Exploring values and beliefs is an important part of this self-discovery process. As an outcome, the client can define the challenges they face and the need for a change in their professional lives. During this phase of coaching the coach can build a better understanding of how the client thinks and feels.


This stage of coaching is focused on identifying measurable success goals. It is worth remembering that identifying goals might be something that needs to be revisited and sometimes redefined during a career coaching relationship. Also, in career coaching some goals may be defined with the option of sharing them with someone’s manager or internal sponsor, and some may be entirely private and confidential. The coach needs to appreciate and acknowledge the variety of factors that can play a role in the career goal setting e.g., the impact of the working environment.

The DIVE model can be used to emphasize the importance of learning goals. In career coaching, it is easy to focus on results, however, in my opinion, framing coaching work around individual learning goals boosts long-term motivation.


This is an exciting stage of career coaching when clients explore, look for alternatives, pursue new ideas and concepts, and take a risk. A key role for a coach is to invite people to venture into a depth of the sea with different, new, and exciting possibilities. The focus of the DIVE model is to use the visual image of the sea or lake with the richness of its under-surface life, colors, shapes, and movements. In the coaching conversation, the client can explore their feelings associated with ‘diving’ – excitement, anxiety, the feeling of freedom, courage, and the satisfaction of learning new things.  Once the client explores this vision with the help of a coach, the coach and the client discuss what the dive has shown about the client’s options and choices.

The boundaries between sea and land are also a symbol of the transition, a change that can be positive but might be also a difficult experience for the client.


Evaluation is according to the Oxford Dictionary “the act of forming an opinion of the amount, value or quality of something after thinking about it carefully”. 

In the DIVE coaching model used specifically in career coaching, evaluation can be multidimensional- it can be considered by individual clients, but also by their managers or sponsors. In any event, evaluation should be an essential element of the coaching model and should happen at the end of each session with the client, or at least by the end of the coaching assignment with the client and the sponsor/manager.

Evaluation is important for a coach as it provides feedback, supporting the coach’s own professional development but also for the client as it is a moment of self-reflection on what has been achieved or not achieved during the session. For sponsors/managers evaluation helps to assess the impact of coaching on performance and development objectives.

The DIVE model in career coaching helps clients and me as their coaches to remind ourselves of a sense of wonder that we all sometimes forget to use in our daily pursuits.

Learn How to Create Your Own Coaching Model

Your Coaching Model reflects your values,
philosophies, and beliefs and must communicate who you will coach
and the problems you will solve.
Read more about creating your coaching model

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