IDIN Consulting Group

How to Find a Career Coach

Getting outside help to propel your career forward can be worthwhile. Now comes the tricky part: finding the perfect match. Just try Googling “career coach” and you’ll be treated to nearly one million results.

A good starting point to finding the right coach involves asking yourself: Why am I hiring a coach? Do I want someone who can help me with a career change or help me move up in my current field?

With the answers to these, you’ll have a more tangible goal. Plus, you’ll be able to quiz a potential coach on his or her level of expertise for your particular needs. A reputable coach will answer your questions during a free initial meeting, whether it’s by phone or in person. Beware the coaches who demand large fees upfront.

Hiring a career coach is different than hiring most other professionals. There is no official licensing agency for career coaches, and thus you’ll find a wide range of quality among those claiming to be experts. For this reason, it’s important to do your due diligence.

Coaches can receive certification through the International Coaches Federation (ICF), and around 3,900 have. Another option is finding a coach through the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARCC), which also offers certification. Both organizations allow you to search for coaches on their Web sites for free. Just remember that the certifications are not guarantees, and there are plenty of good coaches without them.

Personal references would seem an ideal way of finding a coach, but they aren’t always your best bet. Coaching is incredibly personal, and a particular personality might work well for your colleague or friend but could be a disaster for you. Try a targeted Web search, typing in “career coach” along with one or two of your areas of interest. Then, focus your efforts on the first page or two of results.

While the material and insight on a coach’s own Web site is important, more vital is where else their name appears on the Web: What has been written about them (the good and the bad)? Where and how often have they been published or quoted? In other words, how eminent are they? What are their areas of expertise and clients’ experiences with them? This information is a lot more valuable than the edited material coaches use to market themselves.

Hiring a career coach could be likened to finding a good sports coach. In both cases, you’ll want to find out: What is their win/loss record? How well did their previous clients do? Likewise, you want to find someone who has been highly successful in his or her own career. Ask coaches you’re thinking about hiring what their own career path has been like. It’s essential to find someone with real experience – both in the coaching field and outside of it.

Keep in mind that the majority of coaching today is done by phone. Some coaches don’t offer face-to-face meetings, no matter how close they are to their clients. The reason: By keeping the appointments to the phone, clients and coaches can stay on an even playing field, and judgments about appearances don’t get in the way. It also dramatically opens up the size of the field from which to choose a coach, since there aren’t any geographical limits.

Once you’ve narrowed your search, you’ll want to interview a few candidates. Ask about fees, as rates vary from around $50 to $300 per hour. Some coaches require a minimum number of hours. On average, coach-client relationships last from six months to a year.

Above all else, picking a coach comes down to chemistry. You will be sharing intimate details of your life with your coach, so it’s important that you like them and see them as your equal.


March 17, 2015

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