How to Select a Career Coach

Finding a personal coach, whether you're looking for a "career" coach, "life" coach or "executive" coach, is similar to finding a new physician.

Here are some things to think about when interviewing your potential career coach:

  • Referrals work! Begin by asking people you trust whom they work with or whom they know who works with someone they like. Your friends and colleagues have probably heard of someone you might connect with.

  • Trust your intuition. You will be investing a lot of time with this individual therefore it should be someone you are comfortable interacting with.

  • Reflect. Ask yourself what you'd like to get out of a career coaching relationship.

    • What are your goals?

    • What changes you are desiring?

    • What expectations do you have?

  • Prepare questions in advance. These questions will depend on what you want out of the relationship.

    • How will you and the career coach know that the relationship has been successful?

    • What could you learn from this person?

  • It's always a good idea to understand the potential coach's background, expertise and experience and what it is that qualifies them to be a coach in their field. Also regardless of credentials, a prospective coach should be able to tell you what training and experience has prepared them to be able to assist individuals like yourself.

  • Get references. A good career coach should have the names and contact information of people he or she has worked with successfully. Contact these individuals and ask them what the relationship has done for their careers, lives or executive presence and leadership.

  • Ask the potential career coach to tell you about their coaching style and methods. Beware of coaches whose methodology and approach are described using the latest buzzwords and catchphrases ("I'm a holistic healer who uses macro and micro integral transformation to trend future openings and gaps."). Rather, a career coaching model should be clear and direct.

  • Ask specific questions about fees, confidentiality, policies, etc.

  • If you have a comfortable feeling about the career coach and about the potential benefits of working with him or her, ask for a free coaching session. Most coaches will offer a free half-hour session with a potential client. This will give you an idea of what to expect and the coach's style.
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