Choosing a career coach or coaching firm can be one of the most difficult decisions you can make. For many, it requires a great deal of thought, research and many many conversations. With so many career coaches out there working with senior executives, how do you know which coach is right for you?
Talk, talk, talk!
Most coaching firms should offer you a complimentary consultation (usually telephone or Skype), so take advantage of that. Make some notes as you talk to each coach/firm, ready to compare when it comes to deciding. Also see if they have produced any additional content online, so that you can further get a good “feel” for how they work with their clients. Having an initial call is a good opportunity for a “joint discovery” conversation re mutual fit. Importantly here, have they coached people just like you previously?
This might be at the forefront of your mind, but how willing is the coach to tell you up front (if you ask the question) what their fees are? You should be looking for transparency, and a clear answer. However, view this as an investment in you.
What kind of follow up does the coach provide? Free email communications between coaching sessions? Limited email? Sector or other specialist knowledge? Anything else that “stands out” for you? Factor in this added value added info to your decision making.
Does the coach firm offer anything over and above others? It could be a specific offer, or they might be a “Thought Leader” in their field. This could also be around style of coaching, and will be important when you get to the day-to-day of the coaching relationship. Make a note of anything that differentiates that coach for you.
Again, it varies for different specialisms, but dig a little into where that company has “come from” – their own work/life experience, and formal accreditations and/or qualifications. Coaching is currently a non-regulated industry, with a few umbrella organizations who are attempting to bring order to the industry. There are many well-meaning coaches out there, but I suggest you look for how they gained their “stripes”, and just as importantly, where they have come from and whether they have the experience of helping people like you.
Does the company have any? Enough said. This could include past clients that you can pick up the phone and have a chat with, or get some feedback from via email, as well as the usual LinkedIn or website testimonials. Your confidence needs to be such that your chosen coaching company or individual has the necessary credibility.
Ensure that you have all the facts before making a final choice. This could be a long term relationship you’re buying into, so you need to be sure. Due diligence is key.
I’m a great believer in all things emotional intelligence as you may quickly have gathered, and the whole subject and importance of being personable. When you were speaking with the coach, did it feel comfortable? Did they “get” you? Did you get on? What was your gut feeling telling you? Remember, you will be engaging in many interactions with the coach or coaching organization, so you need to feel the potential to be able to form a good ‘business friendship’ in a ‘trusted advisor’ context.
So the bottom line judgement call I’d ask you to consider re investigating any form of coaching input is; will it work for you and do you feel it adds enough value to your job hunting strategy?