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How to Choose a Career Coach in 2024 (And Find The Perfect Fit)

So, the new year is rolling around  and you’re looking for a career coach to work with. In the ever-competitive and evolving world, you can gain a competitive advantage from finding a coach to improve your personal and professional life. Professionals at all levels can seek the expertise of a coach in order to improve their performance drastically or seek a change in their life. From Steve Jobs to Sheryl Sandberg, they have all had coaches help them at some point in their professional lives. You think you may need a coach, but not sure how to choose one?


Choosing a Career Coach Step 1:


Identify Your Needs and Goals




Man writing his career goals
Identifying Your Goals

Before you start looking for a career coach, you should have some idea of your goals. A good coach will help you define your goals in much more detail (so you can achieve them), however it is good to have some idea of why you need coaching and what brought you to search for one. 


For example, are you looking for specific career guidance on your current role? Are you looking for leadership development, or personal growth? Are you looking to reduce burnout and acheive better work-life balance? Once you have this defined, it will make it easier for you to find a coach that will help you. Remember, you don't have to have all of the details defined, but having a good idea of what you want to work on will help you identify the right coach for you.


After all, there are coaches who focus on wellness, coaches that focus on executives, coaches that focus on business, coaches that focus on marketing and more. Having an idea of why you want a coach will help you find the most suitable person for your coaching engagement. This will help you filter whom you want to work with and who you don’t want to work with. 


Choosing a Career Coach: Step 2


Research the Career Coach’s Background and Credentials


A coach that has experience will be better than one that does not, and certifications can also help. You may find a coach that doesn’t have much experience, but is fantastic, but it will be very hard to find such a coach. You would need to get a recommendation from someone who has worked with that individual and can speak to their professionalism and impact.


So, my advice is to dig deep about your career coach. Check their website to understand what they do. Is the website professionally done? Do they state clearly what they help with and what they don’t help with? Does your coach have relevant experience? This depends on what you are looking for, but in general, people like to choose a career coach that is in the same industry as them, or perhaps has a HR or Recruiting background, therefore they are subject-matter experts in topics you want to explore that are in the realm of career development.  


Next, check their credentials. Has your coach had any formal coach training? Anyone can be a coach as it isn’t a regulated industry, however, if your coach has undergone training and is part of the International Coaching Federation you know they have undergone extensive training and adhere to certain standards, procedures and ethics, all very important when dealing with a coach. After all, you want them to be a professional that works with integrity and with a certain level of education, experience and  knowledge.



Choosing a Career Coach Step 3:


Check your Compatibility with Your Career Coach


A powerful and successful coaching engagement thrives on compatibility and a mutual “chemistry”. Generally, you don’t have to like your coach, they have to be someone that you trust, can be open with (and often vulnerable, especially when sharing your fears about your career or any insecurities that you may have!)


The purpose of a engaging a career coach is to challenge you, help with your personal development and provide an objective view and opinion on topics you are working through. You need not like your coach but you should trust them implicitly and feel comfortable speaking with them. Certainly you should feel a connection with your coach, which is hard to define and understand.


Here are some pointers:


I would start by checking their website, checking their LinkedIn or other social media, and any content they produce. The best is to schedule a 30mins chemistry call with them to have a chat to see if you are a fit and feel comfortable with them. You may find the best coach, but if you don’t feel comfortable with them, it won't be a successful career coaching engagement.  Definitely talk to at least 2 coaches and see who is most suitable for you.


Is there a specific style or approach that you prefer? Do you prefer someone more structured, more direct, or less structured and more holistic? Does your career coach incorporate yoga, visualization, meditation or other methods? Is that something you are open to or want to explore?


Choosing a Career Coach Step 4:


Availability and Commitment 


Do you want a coach you meet once a month for an hour? Do you want a coach you meet every 2 weeks to work on something urgent. Do they offer a bespoke package or is it something standard that they offer to you. Check what your career coach offers to you and if it fits with your needs. Do they provide you with support between sessions? Is this something you want or need?


Does the career coach offer in-person, Zoom or phone-based coaching? Depending on your schedule and other commitments, you may prefer to do phone based coaching, in-person coaching or video-conferencing. Luckily, thanks to technology you now have more access to career coaches all over the globe, and not just those in your local area.


Choosing a Career Coach Step 5:


Check for Testimonials or Recommendations:

 

The next thing I would do is check the coach’s LinkedIn profile or website and check for recommendations and testimonials. The best way to choose a career coach is via a referral, if you know someone that’s worked with the coach or knows them personally, that is a good way to select one. The second best way is to work with a coach that has worked with individuals in your industry or on topics that are relevant to you. 


Do they actually have some relevant background that would give them credibility? Have they worked with others that have your seniority? As coaching itself requires strict confidentiality and the career coach’s clients may not want to reveal their names, you can check their job title or company they work for (this is often available) to understand what feedback you can obtain about your coach.


Choosing a Career Coach Step 6:


Understand the Types of Topics the Career Coach Covers


The last step is to understand what topics the career coach you are considering deals with or have experience in. The content of coaching engagement is confidential but a coach can share about general themes they come across and the topics that their clients usually work on. This will give you an indication on whether the coach is a good fit. For example, do you want to work on leadership development? Preventing burnout? Communicating better? Conflict management? Managing teams? Managing up? 



Selecting a coach in 2024 is an investment in your future and will help you reach your goals, whether they are professional or personal. By considering your unique needs, researching credentials, assessing compatibility, and recognizing the offers the career coach has, you pave the way for a beneficial and successful coaching relationship.


Since you’re here, I’d like to introduce myself. I’m a coach with over 15 years of experience working in technology companies like Meta, Zoom, InVision across the world. I’m a HR & Recruiting professional and I’m passionate about helping people reach fulfillment in their careers and lives, making their lives exceptional and helping them leave a legacy. I offer bespoke and personalized coaching engagements as well as group career coaching programmes. 


If you’re looking for a career coach, feel free to schedule a chemistry call. If we’re a fit, I’d be happy to work with you in 2024. If I’m not the right person, I can recommend another coach that I can vouch for.



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