- Expertise and Background: While it isn’t necessary for a Coach to have direct work experience in your industry, having successfully worked with clients in related areas can help. Also, a background in Recruiting enables a Career Coach to give you a perspective from the employer’s side, which can be incredibly valuable.
- Style/Approach: As with any partnership, “fit” is a key ingredient to success. Consider what would be most helpful to you: flexibility, a clear structure, an accountability partner? Interview a few Coaches so you can make a good decision for your work style.
- Knowledge/Education: A PhD or certification doesn’t automatically make someone an expert. In the same way, a lack of certain credentials doesn’t necessarily mean someone isn’t a skilled Coach. Go beyond the letters after the name. Ask for recommendations, check out the Coach’s website and online presence, etc. Are they contributing to the field (via blogs, articles, discussions, etc.).
- Free Consultation/Candidness: For many job seekers, career coaching is a new concept. Your Coach should be willing to answer your questions and even offer a brief consultation at no charge to ensure that she can help you to achieve your specific goals.
- Tech Savvy/Leading Edge: Social media and a strong online brand are no longer optional in a career search. Select a Coach who stays updated on current trends. Ask what she does to keep up with the latest job search strategies. Is Career Coaching only a small part of her business? This may not be a deal breaker, but it’s something to consider.
- Making Guarantees? There are a lot of external factors that play into attaining a new position (e.g., industry, level, location, skill set, etc.), so be wary of Coaches that promise you a job. Each client is unique, so one person’s experience could be different from the next. A better strategy is to be clear about your goals and any tangible results you desire from the partnership (e.g., resume). Explicitly contracting expectations up front will ensure that you get your needs met.
- Practicalities (Location, hours, pricing, payment, etc.): Don’t overlook the practical aspects of the coaching process. If you’re currently working full-time, a coach who doesn’t offer evening/weekend hours may not be the best fit. Coaches who only have extensive packages may not work if you just need a resume. While payment up front is not uncommon, don’t be shy about asking for payment plans if that better suits your needs.
Your Career Coach will be partnering with you on a very important aspect of your life. In addition to the above criteria, you should get a sense that she is passionate about Coaching and genuinely cares about your success.