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What to Look for in a Career Coach.

Leang Chung
Leang ChungPublished on July 19, 2022

After doing some self-reflection work and thinking about hiring a personal coach, you may have landed on a focus area that is in high demand right now, career coaching. Here is a list of professional goals you may have identified for yourself that lines up with the expertise of a career coach.

·      Get promoted.

·      Get a new job.

·      Discover a new, more meaningful career path.

·      Make a career change.

·      Switch industries.

·      Be successful in your new role.

·      Begin career planning.

·      Transition back into the workforce after taking a break.

·      Prepare for upcoming interviews.

·      Define and communicate your personal brand.

·      Refine an existing skill to advance your career.

·      Develop a new skill to advance your career.

·      Negotiate your salary.

Searching for the right career coach to work with is not very different from searching for the right manager to work with. It involves evaluating their expertise, style, and whether you have good chemistry or not.

As you prepare to find the right career coach, here are 3 questions to answer before you start the process.

1.     What problem do you want to solve by working with a career coach?

The career coaching space is broad and those who provide services in this domain may focus their work on a certain specialization. Some of these specializations may include job search strategy, career change, how to succeed in the first 90 days of a new role, or personal branding. The list can be quite extensive.

Figure out what you’re hoping to accomplish through coaching before initiating any consultative conversations. Start with the list above to help you define what you need. This will help you articulate what you’re looking for when you consult with potential coaches and evaluate who will be the right match for what you need.

2.     What type of background or expertise do you want your future career coach to have?

Like the point above, all career coaches will come with a specific background or expertise. For example, those who center their work in job search strategy may have been a recruiter in the past and decided to focus their work in this area because they developed deep knowledge in this area that clients find attractive. Another coach may specialize their work on advancing underrepresented early career women in tech.

List specific expertise you would like your coach to have in relation to your goals, where you are in your career, and personal identity. You may want to refer to this your criteria list before making a final decision.

3.     What methodology, tools, or resources are most effective for you?

When it comes to how coaching is delivered there are endless approaches, styles, tools, and methodologies that are used. Are you partial to assessment tools that provide concrete information you can read and analyze? Do you prefer hands-on exercises? Do you prefer to have a list of curated resources that you can access outside of the coaching session for additional professional development work you can do on your own? Besides the universal coaching practice of asking powerful questions, every coach will come with their own preferred approach to working with their clients. If you also have preference for a particular approach, communicate yours to prospective coaches and understand if there’s an alignment.

 Once you have this information defined, you’re ready to start initiating the consultation calls. Refer to your answers to these 3 questions as a guide for the talking points and questions to ask your prospective coach.

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