Career coach “buyer’s guide”

In this tough economy there is a feeling that every advantage can help with the job search, and that is generally true.  But, I want to outline a few things you should consider before making a commitment to purchase services from a career coach.

First a global statement:  Caveat emptor — Buyer beware.  Most career coaches are trustworthy professionals.  But, anytime there is a market, there are people who want to take advantage of that market. Be sure that you’re buying quality service, not overnight folks looking to make a buck.  Here are some other considerations and questions to ask:

1.  What makes the person qualified to coach you?   Although certifications are important, look beyond the letters that follow their name and consider their past experience.  Analyze how that experience will be useful to you.  Did the person work as an HR recruiter for 15 years before becoming a coach, or did the person graduate from college two or three years ago? Which is more appropriate for you?

2.  How long has the person been a career coach?  Although there isn’t a direct correlation to quality and length of operation, consider how much experience as a coach they bring to your interaction.  While everyone has to start somewhere, make sure you are not the proverbial guinea pig.

3.  How many clients have they served who are in a similar situation as you?  If you are a new college graduate and the coach has only worked with mid-managers, or if you are an executive and they have historically served less-seasoned clients, will they be the best fit for you?  Maybe, maybe not. But explore it deeply.

4.  Will the coach give you the names of recent similar clients to whom you can speak directly?  Printed references are valuable and you should ask for them.  But, you should also ask to speak directly to other clients whenever possible.

5.  Are you paying for services that are available to you free in other places?  Career coaches can be valuable investments, but analyze what you are purchasing and compare that to services you can get for free in other places (perhaps your university’s career center, your local library or other volunteer professionals).  You may still decide to hire a great career coach, but explore options first.

Final note:  The fact that someone is high profile does not make them automatically worthy of your time or money.  Most coaches are entirely professional and can help their clients in a variety of ways.  But, the prevalence of social media has emboldened some less-experienced individuals to call themselves experts or gurus and market their services to folks who are desperate for every advantage.

So, again, caveat emptor.  Do your due diligence and be a smart consumer!

Gary Alan Miller

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1 Comment

  1. Doug Anderson

     /  October 11, 2009

    In reading your comments about job interviews, hiring and what students interviewers expectations are, here are a few words of wisdom.
    Each prospective hiring manager must learn to achieve an ” Art of Followership” with the specific selected candidate. Measureing up the person, to determine if they want the job, is just not enough. A synergy must exist between employee and manager that begines with a common theme during the interview process. Building confidence and supplying empowerment in youth is a learned goal, that hiring managers get better at with practice. Please refer to Wayne Dryer’s words of interpretation of Tao Te Ching, in which he describes becoming one with your surroundings, to learn to walk, w/o leaving a footprint, to be without being, and thus to manage w/o managing or supervise w/o supervising. The Art of followership requires tapping into the Einstien (Source) which lives in us all. Creation of this confidence level in your prospective talent will open up the doors to a faithful and rewarding relatioinship. As in the 43rd verse of Tao, “Everyone who speaks, from the souce “Is God” borne of thyne image…… be polite and listen. Fear not those who chose to ignore or discredit thoust words, for they will not learn”.
    Learning to supvervise, w/o supervising (Less being More) and understanding to allow rather than judge in a way to successful creation of the Art of Followership.


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