More and more people are hiring career coaches to motivate them and help steer them in the right direction. The International Coach Federation, an organization of coaches, claims 22,000 members in more than 100 countries.
Career coaches don’t come cheap. A one-hour session could cost $75 an hour – and that’s at the low end of the spectrum. And although groups like ICF certify coaches, being a career coach doesn’t require any specific qualification unlike, say, medicine, law or accounting.
“The field of coaching is still relatively new and there is no set standard for the profession. Anyone can put up a Web site and claim to be a coach,” Benecia Ponder, a certified executive life coach, tells eFinancialCareers. “For this reason, it is extremely important that people seeking coaching services do their research before hiring a coach.”
Here are some suggestions for picking a career coach:
1. Research the coach
Consider checking out the coach with the Better Business Bureau (this is a business after all). “If the coach has been in business for some time, the coach should have a rating with this organization,” says Cheryl Palmer, a career coach and owner of Call to Career. Adds author Beverly Flaxington, “Google them and look at their Web site. If they are
knowledgeable, they should be writing and seen in the public arena.” And don’t be shy about asking to speak with former or current clients.
2. Make sure the coach has credibility and value
“You want a coach who has received formal training and adheres standards of professional ethics such as those set by the International (Coach) Federation – someone who provides value even before you begin coaching with them,” says Ponder. “Look for what the coach offers for free. Does he/she provide free tele-classes or articles on the subjects that you're looking for help in? Has he or she written a book? Will they offer a complimentary consultation? These resources can help you to determine if the coach is a match for you.”
3. Find the right fit
“Find someone whose coaching style will best match your personality,” says Karen Downing, a career coach. “If you need a listener, but your coach is more action-based, you are not
going to find as much success.”
Palmer suggests having an initial consultation with the coach. “Just because a coach is qualified does not mean that you will work well with that person,” she says. “In the initial consultation, you should ask the coach about his or her style and process for working with clients.”
4. Choose a specialist
Many career coaches have areas of emphasis. Some specialize in fields as varied as law, psychology and business. Your coach should have some familiarity with your vocation. “You wouldn't go to a criminal attorney to handle your divorce or a podiatrist to perform your heart surgery,” says Ponder. “Recognizing the value in specialization is equally as important in the field of coaching.”
5. Find someone who pushes you
A great coach helps you reach your potential. “The reason you hire a coach is to push you and
help you achieve those things that you aspire to, and if your coach is too
much like you or not willing to hold your feet to the fire, then you might
as well be talking to a table,” says Jeff Kear, a marketing and public relations practitioner who says he’s used coaches throughout his career. “Find a coach who makes you answer the tough
questions and won't let you off the hook when you hit a snag; it may not
always be comfortable, but it will help you achieve your goals faster than
a shoulder to cry on.”