If you want to make a change in your professional life, hiring a career coach can help you clarify your goals and identify any obstacles in the way. They can also give you valuable insights and specific steps to help you get where you want to be.
That said, finding the ideal career coach in a sea of more and less qualified ones can be challenging. To get the most from career coaching, BBB recommends the following tips.
How to Hire a Career Coach
- Determine if you can benefit from coaching. If you are unhappy in your current job, just starting out on your career path, or wanting to change your career altogether, you may be a good candidate for coaching, advises Indeed.com. That said, you must be willing to put in the work and make changes. If you aren’t sure you are ready to make major changes, the benefits you get from coaching will be limited and hiring and a coach might not be worth it.
- Know what you need. Not every coach you meet will be a good fit for you personally. It helps immensely if you already know what your needs and pain points are. Are you having trouble landing your dream job? Maybe you already hired a professional resume writer, but you find job interviews challenging. Are you thinking about a total career change? Do you already know where you want to work and what position you want to hold? Or are you simply stuck in a professional rut and not sure how to get out of it? Get clear on your answers before you consult with a coach. That way, you’ll be able to tell if their experience and skill set aligns with your personal needs and goals.
- Ask for referrals. One of the best ways to find a good career coach is to ask someone in your personal or professional network for recommendations. If someone you know had success using a career coach, ask them about their experience and get the coach’s contact information. If you don’t have an acquaintance who can recommend a career coach, try checking with any local colleges or universities. Find out if they recommend any career coaches to their graduates. You can also check with the International Coaching Federation (ICF) or the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARWCC).
- Look at the coach’s free materials. The best coaches have a decent website and stay up to date on current career trends. Review each coach’s website and social media carefully. Read their free content and ask yourself if you find the material motivating, recommends LinkedIn. Your objective should be to work with someone who inspires you to make big changes and gives you the tools you need to take action to reach your biggest goals.
- Choose a coach that fits your needs. Consider whether the coach has either direct work experience in the industry or position you are pursuing or has worked with other clients in similar areas successfully. Next, find out if the coach tends to take a flexible or structured approach and decide which works best for your circumstances and personality. Most coaches offer brief, free consultations where you can find out more about them and their coaching style. Make sure a coach is upfront and candid with you about how they work – they should want to make sure you are a good fit for them as well.
- Ask plenty of questions. To get the most out of a relationship with a career coach, you need to ask questions, recommends Forbes. Find out how they plan to help you, what success looks like to them (i.e. is it some kind of tangible result or is it based on changes in your attitude, motivation levels, and feelings?). Ask about their past experience, especially if they have any success stories to share about people they’ve coached in your industry or position. Find out how they give feedback and/or criticism, and what you’ll be expected to do during your time working together. Especially important is to ask the coach what their process is. It should be clear and easy for them to explain to you. The answers to questions like these will help you to get to know the coach and determine if you are well-matched for coaching sessions.
- Keep your expectations realistic. The truth about career coaching is that you’ll still do most of the work. For the best results with a career coach, you should expect to update your own LinkedIn profile, revamp your resume (although the coach can review these things for you), and handle any interviews you have professionally. A coach will teach you how to do these things well, but only you should be the one to do them.
- Watch out for red flags. Career coaches who just want to make a sale may pressure you to sign a contract with them right away. Instead, ask for a consultation before you sign any contracts. Most coaches will offer you a few references to contact upon request. Always contact these people about their experience. If the only reviews a career coach can offer are public testimonials on their website, that’s another red flag. Finally, any deal or guarantee that seems too good to be true – probably is. Promises of jobs within a certain number of days or introductions into a very exclusive field are usually not trustworthy.
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