Working with a Career Coach is one of the best ways to invest in your future, but finding the right one for you can be daunting. Working with a professional coach can increase your confidence, teach you new skills, and increase your income. It may take focused effort to find the right match, but the effort you put in now can give you a return on your investment that lasts for years. Here are five steps to guide you on your path:
Step One: Clarify why you need a career coach. Before you find your perfect career coach it’s important to pause and understand what you want to accomplish so you can focus your search on the right type of coach since there are many areas of expertise. After working with clients of all ages and backgrounds over 20 years, I’ve seen some common patterns among people seeking a coach. Look at the list below, identify the points that resonate with you, and use it as a jumping-off point to solidify any additional goals.
· I need a new career
· I need a new job
· I want to grow at my current job
· I want to leave corporate life and become an entrepreneur
· I am an entrepreneur and want to get a “real” job
· I am an entrepreneur and want to grow my business
· I want to develop my executive and leadership skills
· I need to make more money
· I need to hone my resume, LinkedIn profile and/or my interview skills
· I hate my job and I have no clue on what I want to do instead
· I just graduated from college and need help getting a job related to my field of study
· I am a professional and want to return to school to further my career or change my direction
· I am an empty nester and want to get back into the workforce after a break from professional life
· I have a vague dream for my professional future and I need help developing a clearer vision and plan to make it real
· I have a difficult boss and need to get help navigating out of my department and into a new one so I have new supervision
· I need to figure out how to integrate my values or spiritual life with my professional life
Step Two: Think about your budget and how much time you have. It’s worth investing in the right coach, but remember to take a realistic look at your budget and how much time you have to invest in the process, and it will help you find the best match for you. Career Coaches hourly rates can range from $100 to $1000 an hour and packages range from single session for a resume tune-up to a 14-week career transformation program, to an extensive leadership coaching that can be designed as two sessions a month for six months or longer. All these approaches can be effective as long when you put in the time you need to get the results you expect.
Step Three: Research: search for a coach that has experience with your specific problem. If you’re a recent college grad, find someone who knows how to guide people who are just starting out. If you’re trying to break into a new field, find someone who specializes in helping people through a career transition. You may want to search for someone who understands the particularities of your industry; a person focused on climbing the corporate ladder may have different coaching needs than someone who’s striking out on their own with a small business. You may need someone who focuses on coaching women, or who can help you integrate your religious or spiritual path into your career. You may feel reluctant to narrow your search too much, but remember that while it’s good to keep an open mind, it’s also important to be specific about what’s important to you.
There are many tools that can help you find a coach who fits your unique combination of needs. First, ask your friends, family, and colleagues for recommendations. If you trust their judgment on other matters, why not ask them about their coaching experiences?
Second, remember that college alumni groups are great resources for information. Search and ask for recommendations on alum Facebook or LinkedIn Groups. People are usually very happy to help, and you may even reconnect with old friends or make some new ones. College career development offices often offer support to alums, even many years after graduation. Get in touch and see if they can offer any recommendations.
Third, there’s everyone’s favorite search tool, the internet. In addition to a simple google search, check out LinkedIn ProFinder, and The Hudson Institute, and, the Muse Coach Connect, all of which can help connect you to great coaches. In addition, if you are looking for very personalized and holistic approach to career coaching, check out my site: Bright Livelihoods.
Don’t shortcut this process; the more time you spend on research the better equipped you’ll be to make a final decision.
Step Four: Contact the 5 best candidates by social media, phone or email. Include a short clear note on why you are looking for a career coach now. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, the response you get might be helpful in making your final decision. A typical note might read:
Hello Prospective Coach,
My name is Jane Brown and I got your contact information from a Bob Smith who worked with you last year and have attached my resume for your reference.
Currently, I am looking for a career coach who can help me move from my current job in digital ad sales to creating my own business. I have always admired entrepreneurs but have been working for big companies for the last 15 years instead of branching off on my own. My biggest challenge is I do not know exactly what kind of business to start and I am hoping you may be able to help.
Please let me know when you are free for a call so I can tell you more and you can tell me about your approach and fees.
Step Five: Interview and test the coaches. Based on the responses to your note, narrow your list to three coaches. At this stage, you can give them each a final interview. Think of it as a test-drive. Remember to use both your head and your heart – your head will help you pick someone with the right qualifications in your budget, and your heart will help you pick someone you have a good rapport with. Don’t discount the importance of “clicking” with someone. You need to feel comfortable with your coach, and they need to understand your personality and values in order to provide you with the best possible guidance. If none of the coaches at this stage feel like a good fit go back to step 2 and repeat the process until you know you’ve found your match. It may feel disheartening to circle back, but good coaching is an investment that will pay you back many times over in years to come.
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