Should You Hire One?
Due to the market flux that has been going on lately, many people are hiring career coaches to help them find their way through the professional jungle. The reason many people are doing this is because they are having trouble deciding which direction to go with their career on their own. An example is Jen Leininger who was passed over for her company's CFO position for the third time in 18 months. She thought that after seeing an executive career coach for only three months, she'd land the CFO job. Instead, she spent an entire year examining her interests, talents, and values before deciding to abandon the CFO track and start her own financial planning business. "I realized that I was actually seeking a job "title" to justify the time I had put into my career, rather than putting my skills to the best use," she says.
Dangers to Expect
The first thing you can expect is an hourly rate that starts at about $100 and time frames of several months. Also, the quality of coaches varies widely-from brilliant to incompetent to corrupt. You can assume that if you're going to go this route, you have to put in plenty of time researching in order to find a good coach. Also, even though they might be able to help you; they can't actually get you a job. They also can't tell you what you should do with your life.
Positives to Expect
If you're able to find a good one they can help you master a number of career boosting skills such as presentation, negotiation, and communication. They can also help professionals leverage their experience and talents to find new ways to apply these skills. Another thing they can do is help you decide how to manage your personal life with your work life. William Cui who is now 33 and a senior manager in Cognizant's business consulting practice is an excellent example of this. Since he was constantly traveling for his job, he was ready to sell his home because he figured there was no point in owning property when he was traveling all the time for his job. His career coach stopped him from packing everything away by saying, "You need to have somewhere to call home in order to tie you back to who you are." She saved him by reminding him that, "While you're traveling and living an interesting life that most people would be jealous of, you end up losing yourself in the process."
Finding the Right Coach
As with most professional decisions, references and recommendations are the key to finding great coaches. Ask trusted colleagues and business contacts if they have any suggestions. Another thing you can do is ask prospective coaches to provide you with contact information of four or five people they have helped. "If they can't produce them, that will tell you something," says M.J. Ryan, a career coach and author of AdaptAbility: How to Survive Change You Didn't Ask For.
Making a Decision
After getting a hold of past clients, ask them what the coach's process looks like and what results the sessions had for them. Find out the details if you can. They might have found a new job working with the career coach, but are they making as much as they used to? Are they indeed happier with their new career than they were with the old one? Also, many coaches offer initial consultations free of charge. Go ahead and take advantage of this offer by visiting three or four to get a sense of their different styles to determine which one you connect with the best. Is the chemistry right between the two of you? Will you be willing to listen to her when she gives you advice and feedback you may not like? You should also quiz her about her background.
To make sure you've found the right counselor, make sure you can pay by the hour instead of having to commit to a long-term program. Not only will this allow you to end sessions if they're not working well enough, it will also help you avoid fraudulent coaches. Some companies will attempt to guarantee you a better career for a $6,000 up front fee. They might claim they have access to a hidden job market. Another danger sign is coaching companies that call you. While most coaches are honest, it's still a good idea to clarify what you want out of your relationship from the beginning. Then, if at any time you don't like the way the sessions are going, make sure you end it right away. A career coach is like anyone else you hire, don't ever hesitate to fire them and find another.
1. Eckel, S. (2010, February 15). Should You Hire A Career Coach. Retrieved May 9, 2015.
2. Lewis, K. (2012, November 6). Career Coaches: When are they worth their salt? Retrieved May 15, 2015.