How to pick the right Career Coach

Ange Connor

Since my blog People with Careers need a Career Coach I have received quite a lot of enquiries from people about how to find and select the right career coach.  Finding the right career coach can be quite personal and to ensure you get the most out of your time with a career coach there are a few simple steps that will help make sure you select the right person. Regardless of if you are appointing a professional career coach whose services you need to pay for or if you are looking for a more informal career coaching/mentoring relationship with someone you admire in business or in your specific field, your approach should be the same.

Before you even start looking for possible coaches its essential to be very clear on why you feel you need a career coach and what you want to achieve from working with a career coach. What you want to get out of it will ultimately determine the type of person you go about sourcing.  If you are looking for a complete change in career direction or if you are looking to stay in your chosen career yet want to position yourself for promotions, there are different skills and expertise to look for in a career coach.  I find it helps to get what you want down on paper so you can be very clear about it. Basically you are starting to put together your own key selection criteria for recruiting your own career coach.

Don’t forget to use your networks when looking for a career coach.  Referrals can be a great way to find the right career coach but it is important to remember that just because your best friend or work colleague had a great experience with a career coach they may not necessarily be the right person for you.  Feeling like you have a connection with your career coach is vital. You are going to spend some decent time with them so you want to make sure that you are on the same page.  You also need to make sure that you are clear with them on your why and what you want to achieve so you are both working towards the same objectives.  Whether you google a career coach or are referred to someone, spend some time talking to them about their experience, knowledge plus what and how they think they can assist you with what you want to achieve.  Most career coaches will be happy to spend some time speaking with you over the phone or meeting with you for an initial consultation to make sure that it is the right partnership.

When making contact initially with potential career coaches it’s important to ensure you have a connection, however its equally important to make sure you are not just selecting someone like you or who you simply like.  A great career coach should never tell you what to do.  A great career coach will challenge you and you need to be prepared for that because sometimes it can be confronting.  They should question you and open your eyes to other possibilities or to thinking about your career from a different perspective.  Sometimes we get so tunnel visioned about what we are trying to achieve for ourselves in our own career that we forget to stop and look up and look at ourselves from the prospective of a potential new employer or from our boss who is deciding if we are worthy of that promotion.  A great career coach will take you on that journey and help you to stop and look up from another perspective.

The other thing to consider when selecting a career coach is do they walk the talk.  Can they relate to you and your journey?  They don’t have to have walked the same path as you but I think it’s important that they can empathise with your situation and that they practice what they preach.  For example if I was looking for a career coach to help me work towards gaining a promotion where I needed to stand out from the crowd, innovate and really market myself I’d want a career coach who was demonstrating those skills in their own business or career.  It’s also important that your career coach has their finger on the pulse in your specific market place / industry.  When talking to a career coach be sure to ask them about what they know about your line of work or what trends they are seeing in the marketplace in your specific industry.  By questioning them about their knowledge of the marketplace and your industry as well as asking them about their background and experience you’ll start to arm yourself with the right information to decide if this person is the right career coach for you.  Checking them out via social media such as Linked In and Twitter in particular, or their own website, if they have one, can also be really useful.

Selecting the right career coach doesn’t have to be hard.  By making sure you are clear right from the start on what it is you want to achieve and by investing the time in questioning and researching your potential career coaches you’ll be sure to find the right person to help you on your journey to career success.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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