At NETSHARE we work with a number of career coaches to support our weekly Ask the Coach call and our monthly Experts Connection webinars. Over the years we have encountered a number of talented coaching professionals who have demonstrated their value to executive job seekers and career changers. What makes a good coach? It’s someone who challenges you to take a hard look at your goals and objectives and help you find new ways to become masters of your career destiny.
Career coaches can be invaluable if you are looking to make a career change or transition to a new profession. However, a good career coach will not find a job for you, but he or she will motivate you and help you uncover what you need to know to advance your own career. A coach is just that, a coach; someone who trains you to perform at your best. There are a number of reasons to hire a career coach or professional mentor:
· To help you uncover and quantify your strengths to make you more attractive to a potential employer.
· To help you improve your career skills such as interviewing and networking
· To help you set career goals and create a better life/work balance.
· To push you to work harder on your job search
The challenge is finding a skilled, reliable, and experienced career coach that can help you achieve your goals. As career counselor Katharine Brooks wrote in Psychology Today:
Compared to psychology and counseling, the coaching field is something of the Wild West. It is an unregulated field or, as it is sometimes called, "self-regulated." Coaches are not accredited or licensed by states-- there are no required standards or training in the field. Anyone can call themselves a coach-- and, in fact, many people do. In my field of higher education career services, I often encounter candidates who apply for career coaching openings in my office with a basic attitude of "I have looked for jobs, so I can help others look for jobs." That philosophy is fine in a self-help group or as a volunteer, but I wouldn't pay any money to such an individual.
So how do you find a coach that is qualified and offers the skills you need? You ask around. Check with your friends, family, and colleagues. Check with their former clients. And use your own checklist to determine if that career coach you are considering has the qualifications you are looking for. Here are 10 questions that Brooks suggests asking:
1. Does the coach belong to a professional coaching association? Do they adhere to a code of ethics?
2. What is their background? A bio or resume should tell you a lot about their experience, accreditations, and certifications. Although certification is not required, you can tell a lot by their experience.
3. Ask about costs and fees. Make sure there are no hidden costs. Remember that you are entitled to an “informed consent” form that lists the credentials of the career coach, their fees, includes a confidentiality clause. Be sure you both sign it.
4. Ask for client references. Be sure to talk to clients and former clients, not just look for client references on the web site. (Note: because of confidentiality issues, you may not be able to get references.)
5. Check them out. Check with the Better Business Bureau and other services to determine what the level of satisfaction is.
6. Ask about how the coach likes to work and what his or her coaching philosophy is. What approaches do they use? Good coaches will have a perspective developed from their training.
7. Ask about their specialization. Do they work with executives in transition, specific markets? If, for example, the coach specializes in recent college graduates they he or she may not be for you.
8. Ask for an introductory appointment, either for free or at a reduced rate. See if you have a connection with the coach.
Once you find the right career coach, be prepared to invest the time and energy you need to get the most out of their knowledge and expertise. If the coach is good, you will become an active participant in the coaching process. You will learn more about yourself and your expertise, and ultimately you will find the job you are seeking.