If you’re ready to change careers or move up within your current company, a career coach may be something you’ve considered. You can turn to family or friends for advice, but often an outside opinion is helpful.
Eilene Zimmerman of The New York Times spoke to a few professional career coaches about the process. A coach can give unbiased feedback and help you learn better communication and networking techniques. They can also help you see what skills you need to build in order to reach the next level in your company. So if you’re someone who feels as if she’s stalled out or doesn’t know the next best move, a coach could help you find the areas you need to focus on.
There are a few things to consider before deciding to hire a career coach. One is deciding who you want to work with. How do you know if a career coach is good at what he or she does, when there is no official license or test? Some of the coaches Zimmerman spoke to suggest turning to organizations like the International Coach Federation, which certifies coaches. Another way to find a coach is through a referral from another coworker or friend.
Above all, though, you want to make sure your coach is the right one for you:
Chemistry and comfort level are important, so interview potential coaches and meet face to face. Before working together, you and your coach should be clear about what is confidential and what will be shared with your manager.”
Many companies choose to hire career coaches for their staff, so beware that what you say may be shared with management. Make sure you know what is and isn’t confidential.
If you aren’t receiving a coach through the company, then you must also consider the cost of a career coach, which Zimmerman asked one coach to explain:
Paying out of your own pocket can cost several hundred dollars an hour. According to the International Coach Federation, the global average cost for an hour with an executive coach is $320; for all types of business-focused coaching, the average is $280. It may be worth it, though, if you are thinking about significantly changing your role in the company or leaving to do something else, Mr. Weintraub says.”
Cost is a big factor in deciding if this is the right step for you to take, but if you’re serious about advancing your career, the cost may be worth it. Also, if you’re looking for something more basic, you may be able to find coaches with a cheaper introductory package. I called around to a few coaches when I lived in Minnesota and was considering leaving television news. I found one that was about $300 for some basic career assessment, and that included meeting with her three times. Depending on what kind of coaching you’re looking for, you may be able to find something more affordable. Just remember to do your research before settling on one coach or before giving up on the idea entirely.
If you decide to hire a coach, what might you take away from the experience? According to the coaches Zimmerman spoke to, it seems that you come away with an increased awareness:
Typically, coaching changes behavior, and that affects what you achieve professionally, Ms. Johnson says.
As Ms. Harris puts it, ‘I coach ambitious people, and through coaching they increase their influence and value within the organization.’”
If you’re looking to advance your life professionally, a career coach may be the right choice for you. Sometimes we all need an extra boost and an outside source to talk to. If you can’t afford one, consider speaking to a mentor or someone you admire in the business — it never hurts to hear how they got where they are today.
Read more about the career coaching process in Zimmerman’s article here.