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How can I find a qualified, reputable career coach?

THE QUESTION

From my online searches, it doesn't seem that career coaching is a regulated, professional designation. How do you know if they are reputable and qualified to provide advice? Is there a registry or a rating system, as with financial services? What are customary fees and duration of service? Is it worth the investment?

THE FIRST ANSWER

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Peter Caven

Managing director, Launched, Toronto

The job market is intensely competitive.

You are in the "Career Olympics" and a coach will help you to set realistic and achievable goals; develop strategies; acquire the skills to successfully implement those strategies; keep you motivated and engaged.

A coach will ensure you are executing career-building tactics (résumé, LinkedIn profile, networking and interviewing skills) at a gold-medal level. A coach will set milestones, monitor your progress, provide feedback and modify your approach as required. The process of finding a career can be disheartening – a coach can boost your spirits and keep you motivated.

Choosing the right coach is important – you need to be confident in your coach and trust their judgment. There needs to be good "chemistry" between you and your coach. Meet with and interview several of them. Examine their careers – what have they done? Have they "competed" or only coached? What is their track record – who have they coached and helped succeed, and to what level? What is their approach and process – do they take an integrated, bigger-picture view or only focus on one or two elements of the process?

View costs as an investment and calculate your return – what is the pay-back period and net present value over the balance of your career? With fixed fees, you know what the cost will be – hourly fees can get out of control and discourage you from getting the help you need.

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Coaches can create a road map for success, however, ultimately it is up to you to ensure you reach your career goals.

THE SECOND ANSWER

Colleen Clarke

Corporate trainer and principal, yourresumepro.com, Toronto

Career counselling is not regulated, though there is Canadian certification available. In Ontario, for one, check the Ontario Association of Career Management website for a listing of members. There are also graduates with career-management diplomas from a few colleges across Canada.

The best way to find a professional career coach is through referral. Considerations when selecting a counsellor:

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  • Check out their website, read testimonials, ask for references;
  • You can book a package of multiple visits, or one-offs – the number often depends on where clients are in their life, in their job search and what their goals and needs are;
  • A counsellor need not have experience in your industry though that can be a plus in certain occupations/industries and levels of employment;
  • Chemistry is important if working together for longer than one visit;
  • Availability, location and accessibility: Independent coaches might be available seven days a week;
  • Rates vary from $100 to $200 an hour for an independent; a retail consultant at an outplacement firm may be much higher;
  • Professional résumé services should start at $500, depending on varying factors. Plan to sit in on the session or be available for consultation, around three hours plus edit time.

Every professional athlete has a coach; any job seeker would be fortunate to likewise have a guiding light.

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About the Author
Nine To Five Contributor

Colleen Clarke is a corporate trainer and career specialist in Toronto. She is a highly recognized career specialist, corporate trainer, and public speaker in the areas of career management and transition, communication and networking. For the past 18 years she has motivated, inspired and counseled thousands of groups and individuals to maximize their career potential. More

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