10 Qualities to Look for When Hiring a Career Coach

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The job market is difficult, and there’s no shame in requiring some assistance along the way. Whether you’re a student struggling to determine the right career path, an established businessperson looking to advance further, or a professional seeking a midlife career change, a career coach can provide the guidance you need to achieve your goals. From making career recommendations, to composing exceptional resumes, to polishing your interview skills, to helping you with communication, time management, and organization, career coaches can be a good investment.

You have to be sure to find the right one for you, though. Below are some qualities to look for when searching for the ideal career coach.

1. Credentials

There are various organizations and certifications for career coaches, so there’s no excuse for not having accreditation. Some career coaches fake expertise despite having no training, so carefully research your coach’s qualifications before diving in. Membership in a professional coaching organization is a good sign.

2. Experience

Much like how hiring managers scour a potential employee’s social media accounts before offering a job interview, you should carefully Google your potential career coach’s credentials before offering your hard-earned money. This way, you can determine their success both as a career coach and as a professional in your field. Make sure they have testimonials and reviews, because you don’t want your career to be anyone’s first project.

3. Care

Some career coaches are motivated only by money and may be apt to prolong sessions and coaching to milk as much out of you as possible. Avoid career coaches whose fees are based on how much you make by following their advice, as they’ll just be looking to make as much money as possible and won’t keep your best interests in mind. Talk to any prospective career coach prior to signing a contract to get a feel for how seriously they take your concerns and how much they care.

4. Resources

A good career coach has an entire repertoire of tools on hand to aid you in your career advancement. In addition to aiding you with your resume and LinkedIn profile, they should assist you with networking, helping you establish valuable contacts in your field. A good coach helps you reflect deeply and gives you points to work on between sessions. They know what you should work on, and they help guide you through the process.

5. Compatibility

No matter how much experience or qualifications a coach has, if their personality doesn’t click with yours, you should keep looking. Given the sheer number of career coaches out there, you’re bound to find a highly competent one whom you get along with. Since you’ll be required to share a lot of deep personal information about your goals and dreams, you need to make sure you like and trust your career coach.

6. No guarantees

Not much in life is 100% guaranteed, and that’s especially true in coaching. While it’s the coach’s job to help guide you, it’s ultimately up to you to implement the coach’s advice and create your own success. You want a career coach with a solid track record, of course, but you have to understand that no career coach can guarantee results, and you ought to avoid any who do.

7. Research

Try to land a career coach who doesn’t simply regurgitate common professional coaching knowledge and blindly implement all the common tests and tools but rather actively engages in research. Some coaches set themselves apart from the rest through their unique insights, methods, or tools. A career coach who does their own research is clearly dedicated to and engaged in their work, demonstrates strong analytical skills, and can better improvise, thanks to their deep knowledge of the ins and outs of the field.

8. Tough love

Don’t hire a career coach who’s too nice. You’re hiring a career coach to help you land your dream job or advance in your career, not to feel good about yourself. Find someone who pushes you out of your comfort zone and challenges you to improve yourself instead of flattering you. Prepare yourself for criticism—it’s hard to improve without it.

9. The right answers to your questions

Many career coaches offer a free consultation so you can test the waters, so don’t let this valuable opportunity pass you by. Before you go, make sure to have a bunch of well-thought-out questions prepared. You can ask about their working process, their approach to particular aspects of career coaching, the results their clients typically see, their favorite type of clients to work with, and how they would help you with your specific problem.

This is also a great opportunity to see how well you get along, how invested they are in helping you, and how engaged they are in their job.

10. A contract

Reputable career coaches have clients sign contracts before beginning the career coaching process. Read the contract carefully before signing, as it will outline the expectations for both of you. In the rare case that a conflict arises, having a signed written agreement makes resolution considerably easier. Avoid coaches who don’t offer contracts.

It’s difficult to find the right career coach for you, but putting the effort in is worth it. Once you’ve found your coach, make sure to be honest about all your goals and feelings, and if you fail to implement their advice, tell them honestly. They know how to recalibrate the plan. Communicate openly and be honest if you don’t think a piece of advice is right for you. Only with accurate information can you determine your ideal career path, whip up an outstanding resume, shine through the interview, and achieve your career dreams.

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