How Should I Choose a Career Coach?

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how should I choose a career coach

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What’s the best criteria for choosing a career coach?

From real-lived experiences to trusting your gut, here are the 10 answers to the question, “What are the best criteria for choosing a career coach?”

  • Real-Lived Experiences
  • Specific Expertise in Your Challenge
  • Results From Past Clients
  • Understand the True Costs and Benefits For Each Coach
  • You Feel You Can Build Trust
  • Their Method Focuses on the Long-Term Impact
  • Sparks Your Energy
  • Excellent Chemistry
  • Pursues Their Own Professional Development
  • Your Personal Choice

Real-Lived Experiences

Find a coach who has “real lived experiences” in and out of the business world that align with your challenges. Without this, how will they ever empathize, understand, and challenge you?

The additional value is a coach who can mentor through their relevant insights to “work with you” towards impactful outcomes. Coaching is not a game; it’s real, and it deals with reality in people’s lives.

Katie DaCosta, Founder, Learning & DE&I Leader & Strategist, Business & Career Coach., Purple Nyx Consulting

Specific Expertise in Your Challenge

Finding a coach who “walked the talk” and has first-hand experience with your specific goals and challenges is so important. With their help, you can gain unfiltered wisdom, true empathy, and tailored advice based on their own learnings and experiences.

This way, you can avoid making the same mistakes they did, and fast-track your path to success. Find a coach on LinkedIn who has been in your shoes and experienced a similar situation to yours, whether it’s breaking into a new role or industry.

Does their story resonate? Do you see commonalities in their background? This type of first-hand experience is invaluable and can give you the edge you need to manifest your career goals.

Jean Kang, Sr. Program Manager, Project Manager Career Coach, Path to PM

Finding a coach who “walked the talk” and has first-hand experience with your specific goals and challenges is so important. With their help, you can gain unfiltered wisdom, true empathy, and tailored advice based on their own learnings and experiences. – Jean Kang, Sr. Program Manager, Project Manager Career Coach, Path to PM

Results From Past Clients

The one criterion that should be used when choosing a career coach is their results. Career coaching requires deep mindset shifts, not just strategy and great materials.

However, what results from those deep mindset shifts? How have clients been able to execute that and change careers, find a new role, or negotiate a large salary increase?

My advice is, when looking for a career coach, look at their testimonials, reviews, and case studies and see if those results align with what you need. If you cannot find any results in their testimonials, then you may want to keep looking!

Valerie Martinelli, MPA, CEO, Valerie Martinelli Consulting, LLC

Understand the True Costs and Benefits For Each Coach

Career coaching is a valuable investment of your time and money, so before you agree to work with a coach, make sure you understand how much they cost, what is included, and the benefits.

Are the services for a limited time, or can you spread out the timing of your coaching sessions? Does what they offer align with what you need right now in your career? What outcomes can you expect from the coaching?

Investing in career coaching can bring greater career happiness as long as you ask tough questions about the actual costs and true benefits.

Denise Fowler, Founder & Career Coach, Career Happiness Coaching

Career coaching is a valuable investment of your time and money, so before you agree to work with a coach, make sure you understand how much they cost, what is included, and the benefits. – Denise Fowler, Founder & Career Coach, Career Happiness Coaching

You Feel You Can Build Trust

The best way to choose a career coach is to go with the one you feel you can build trust. That will give you the freedom to be authentic and vulnerable without judgment. In such a space, the coachee is more likely to have a tough conversation and achieve the desired outcome. Also, trust can develop quick results when the coachee feels the coach has good intentions.

Aneta Buckthought, Career Coach, Pure-Ception Ltd

Their Method Focuses on the Long-Term Impact

A successful coach is the one you don’t need anymore after they completed your sessions. Your career coach should not just be there to find you your next job, but to equip you with the right tools and techniques to make a meaningful, long-lasting change in your work life.

They should be open to transferring their knowledge and sharing their methods openly so you can use the learned strategies anytime you find yourself in a similar need.

Christina Ioannidou, Wellbeing-at-Work Coach, People & Culture Director, Spark Back Coaching

Sparks Your Energy

Choose a career coach who sparks your energy and partners with you on your journey from the beginning to the end, so that you feel both empowered and supported to steer your career toward your dreams.

When you feel confident that your coach will elevate you to reach your potential, you know you found the one that is perfect to help you thrive in your career or make a career transition. Energy attracts energy, so choose wisely and search for a career coach that makes you shine brightly.

Fabienne Prevoo, Career & Leadership Coach, Coaching by Fabienne

When you feel confident that your coach will elevate you to reach your potential, you know you found the one that is perfect to help you thrive in your career or make a career transition. Energy attracts energy, so choose wisely and search for a career coach that makes you shine brightly. – Fabienne Prevoo, Career & Leadership Coach, Coaching by Fabienne

Excellent Chemistry

Your career coach should be someone with whom you feel comfortable. Coaching works best when you feel safe showing up as your authentic self. Schedule a consultation with three or four coaches. Pay close attention to the chemistry and connection you feel. Ask yourself, is this someone I can trust with my dreams and goals? Ideally, a career coach creates a non-judgemental space where you feel comfortable and supported, yet also open to new possibilities and stretching out of your comfort zone.

Lauren Miura, Career Coach & Strategist, Lauren Miura Coaching

Pursues Their Own Professional Development

Make sure your career coach has a record of consistent professional growth. A coach that isn’t investing in themselves may not best guide others to do the same. Look for news and announcements from the coach about new credentials, continued education, professional development, awards, and honors, or even read new books about coaching or business best practices.We can also see proof of growth in the development of new products or services, being a guest speaker, publishing articles and podcasts, giving seminars, or authoring resources. When considering price points for selecting a coach, remember that you’re investing in the coach’s knowledge about leading others to success, and proof of that success can be seen in their own rate of professional development.

Alexis Ankersen, CPRW, CPCC, Professional Brand Developer, Calibrate Career Services

Your Personal Choice

Following strategies and advice for how to choose a career coach are helpful, but it should all come down to your gut. This is because you’ll need to make sure your career coach is a fit for you on many levels—consider if you trust them, if you like them, if they resonate with you, and if they truly feel like a good fit.

I always say it’s like picking a therapist—if you don’t like or trust the person, your transformation won’t happen and you won’t get results. Sure, your career coach can check off all the boxes: provides a true blend of tactical and holistic problem solving, is certified, offers assessment tools, has had a career in business, has had their own profound career journey and track record… but all of that doesn’t amount to anything if they weren’t your personal choice.

Kelley Joyce, MBA, CPC, Career Coach, The Truth at Work, Inc.

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