5 Things to Look for in a Career Coach

© andrewgenn - Fotolia.com
© andrewgenn – Fotolia.com

As an executive in today’s corporate landscape, you are likely to change jobs many times throughout your career. That means you cannot rely on your employer(s) to manage your career, you must take control.

Being in control does not mean you have to figure everything out for yourself. There are career professionals for every part of the career management process, helping you define your strengths, create a personalized career plan, communicate your personal brand, improve your leadership skills and business performance, boost your networking proficiency (online and in person), and prepare for job interviews and performance reviews.

Career coaches are widely available, yet their skills and qualifications range just as far. To be sure your time and money are well spent, do your due diligence in checking off these five criteria as you vet prospective career coaches.

  1. Certification – Anyone can hang out a shingle and call themselves a coach, but they may not be a truly dedicated coach. Taking certifications shows that a coach is serious in their commitment to working with the client and dedicated to professional excellence. Ask whether your coach is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF).
  2. Reputation – Search for the coach on LinkedIn to read any recommendations they have posted, and contact those people via LinkedIn for more information. Keep in mind that a career coach generally works in a highly confidential environment, so their clients may not post their referrals publicly.
  3. Knowledge – Determine how knowledgeable they are of your particular function and industry, and its key players and pitfalls. Coaches tend to specialize in niche areas. For instance I couldn’t be a sports career coach because I don’t know much about that industry, but I can help senior executives in any function at any level.
  4. Network – Do they have an extensive database within your function and industry? Can they refer you or generate leads for you?
  5. Skill – As a coach, are they an idea generator? Does talking with them feel inspiring, exciting and engaging? Do you feel a sense of hope and encouragement about your future? Can they articulate the coaching process and how long it may take to achieve specific results?

Remember that the perfect coach on paper may not be the perfect coach for you. Chemistry between the two parties is crucial, as is an open and frank dialogue and rapport. Otherwise the engagement will be a total waste of your time and money.


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