What makes for a terrific coach to accelerate your career? After over 30 years helping talented professionals in the job search market, these are my suggestions for your checklist:
EXPERIENCE: There are a number of people who are between jobs who think they can make some easy money by becoming a “coach”. Check out how long they’ve been in the business. If it’s less than 10 years, they haven’t experienced enough diverse economic conditions, different functional requirements, or alternative business cycles to be helpful. Remember: The most valuable asset you’re accessing is their experiences.
PAST SUCCESS: A coach that has been unsuccessful with past clients isn’t much good to you. Check out how successful they’ve been, in what industries, at what level. A coach that is helpful to undergraduates may not be able to assist your efforts for a management position. If their field of expertise is sales, how are they going to help you find a financial job? If a coach has only worked the New York City marketplace, how will they help you in Dallas?
REFERRALS: Who has the coach successfully worked with? Can the coach give you names of people in your field and organizational level? What has been other people’s experience? It has to be enthusiastic support in order to be helpful. Faint praise is a negative.
UNIQUE APPROACH: Anyone can put together an unimaginative job search. Unless a coach has a unique approach to your unique situation, beware. Your personal approach to the marketplace has to be distinctively yours and not a template from a textbook.
CREDIBLE: Have a telephone conversation with a few potential coaches. Ask them how they are unique and what they can do differently than all others? Why or how are they successful with past clients? Ask them straight out, “Can you help me?” Have them critique your resume. How can they make your resume compelling? How can you sharpen your interviewing skills?
COMFORTABLE FIT: If you don’t feel comfortable in discussing your career goals, past job problems or concerns about your marketability, then the coach isn’t the right one for you. There’s an essential need for you and your coach to be totally honest with each other: Issues, concerns, alternatives, strength, weaknesses, opportunities and factors that may contribute to success or the lack thereof.
A STRATEGY: After talking with a potential coach about your background, alternatives and prospective career directions, you should be able to answer the six checklist items above. The coach, on the other hand, should be able to outline a number of potential strategies to assist you in designing the most effective path to your career destination. It won’t be in detail, but it should outline some key components for you to consider, based on the coach’s experiences.
An effective job coach can help you accelerate your career, but only if it’s the right one.
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