Top 10 Tips... Finding the right career coach

Top 10 Tips... Finding the right career coach

If you’re ambitious to take the next step at work, are looking to further your existing career or are having a work-related crisis then a mentor or career coach may be just what you’re looking for to help you achieve your career goals.

But finding the right kind of career coach can be a tricky task, particularly in such a crowded market. Anyone can claim to be the mentor you’re searching for.

Follow our Top 10 Tips for finding the right person to coach you through the next steps in your career:

1. Identify what you want 

A good place to start is by asking yourself what you want a career coach, or a mentor, to support you to achieve. Is it to help you progress in your current career? Or to reinvent your work life altogether and pursue something new and exciting? You may be experiencing problems at work, or be out of work entirely, and need some guidance to weather the storm.

2. Think about how you want to work with your coach

Once you have figured out what you want to achieve and how a coach can help you attain this, consider how you want to manage this new relationship. For example, do you have time to commit to regular face-to-face meetings or would you prefer to liaise online or via Facetime/Skype? Would you prefer to have a coach who works with you one-to-one or would you like to participate in networking events with others too?

3. Weigh up what kind of person you like to work with

Think about the unofficial coach-like figures and mentors you’ve had in your life. What qualities did they have in common? Did you respond well to gentle encouragement or tough love? Would you prefer someone who is kind and nurturing or someone who will kick you into gear and push your boundaries more robustly?

4. Consider the cost

One of the things which may be holding you back from seeking help from a professional career coach is the cost. But if you’re feeling stuck in a rut and conversations with friends, family and your close work colleagues have been fruitless, then seeking professional advice is the next logical step. The initial investment may be difficult to bear but if it leads to a higher paying job then it will be worth every penny. Fees will vary depending on how long someone has worked as a coach, their qualifications and how many clients they have. If you’re worried about how the process works and whether it’s right for you then it’s worth working with someone at the lower end of the pay scale as you dip your toe into the waters. If you’re looking for someone with lots of experience or from a specialist area, then they’re likely to cost more.

5. Understand the current climate in your workplace

You need to understand how learning and development is facilitated in your current workplace. This will work particularly well if you’re looking to develop your skills or position where you work now. But it’s also wise to take any opportunities to learn new skills where you work now in order to better your chances in another role elsewhere. Ask your Learning and Development or HR team what training you could participate in or what courses you could attend. 

6. Do your research

Whatever your reason for wanting to hire a coach, it’s worth doing some research and digging around by talking to a number of coaches to make sure you find the right one for you. An effective coach will put you in the driving seat; they will listen carefully and ask questions rather than giving you information, as you go on a journey of discovery to look at where you are and where you want to be. They will have the experience to support you in finding the right direction. 

7. Check their credentials

Before deciding on a coach, check out what skills and capabilities they have to help you increase your profile and market yourself. You also need to check out what kind of assessments they use  – ideally, they should be using assessments recommended by the Chartered Psychological Society and the person administering should have BPS level A and B qualifications. Don’t forget to ask any coach you do recruit about their Code of Ethics and that you are clear about what their services will cost.

8. Ask what industry contacts they have

Ask what contacts they have within your existing industry or the one you hope to move into. A good mentor will know people in the recruitment industry and even have some knowledge about which companies are potentially hiring. They will be able to advise you what networking opportunities there are and how to raise your profile. 

9. Be open to change

You’ve already identified that you want to make a career change – but now the hard work begins to get you to where you want to be. You need to be self-aware and honest about your skills and attributes and the goals you set need to be realistic as well as challenging. Your career coach will encourage and inspire you to develop your skills and abilities, to network and go for job interviews if appropriate. You need to take their constructive criticism and ideas on board and push your boundaries.

10. Be realistic about how long your career changes will take

It might be that your career coach simply needs to help you through a short-lived rough patch at work or help you brainstorm your next steps during a couple of sessions. Or you might work together for months or even on an annual basis. How long you need support from your mentor will vary depending on your individual goals, the state of the economy and job market, how many sessions you can afford, how much time you have to dedicate to the task and many other variables You may go through periods of high activity and others where it plateaus. But don’t forget, that while your coach plays an important role, you are ultimately responsible for taking her/his advice and acting on it. Good luck!

Related Article: How to find the right career coach

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