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Common Questions About Career Coaching

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Photo credit: Getty Images/Leland Bobbe

At some point in your work path, you may consider career coaching. There are a number of valid reasons to need a career coach, including feeling stuck in your job or considering a career change. Or perhaps you're returning to work after a career break or layoff.

As you explore the possibility of career coaching, questions to ask include those aimed at the professional you may hire as well as for yourself.

Questions to Ask a Career Coach

  • Tell me about your background in coaching. You only want to hire an experienced coach who has relevant expertise to meet your needs. Credentials are useful, but they're not sufficient to know that someone will be the right career coach for you. Steer clear of someone who's turned to career coaching to make some money in between jobs in his own executive career.
  • What type of clients do you see? Similarly, it can be helpful to work with a career coach who specializes in working moms or female lawyers, if that's what you are. It's not mandatory, but someone who's worked with people like you may have useful insights.
  • What is your coaching process? The answer to this question should be tailored to you and your needs. You want a coach who's helping you find the right questions to explore, not someone who already thinks she has all the answers.
  • How will we measure improvement? To be successful, any coaching process must have a clear goal and measureable results. Your coach should partner with you to identify coachable issues and be accountable for career goals you set together.
  • How long do you expect this engagement to last? Career coaching isn't a lifetime commitment. Your coach should describe the beginning, middle and end of your work together, as well as the payment expectations and confidentiality agreements.
  • Do you have a mentor or coach yourself? You want your coach to be part of a larger community of executive career coaches, so that he can get feedback and improve his own skills continuously. This will protect you from your coach's blind spots and help you avoid hiring an unsupervised lone gun.
  • Is there anything else I should know? It's always smart to end an interview with an open ended question, to learn more about the professional's style and the answers he's prepared.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Am I ready for coaching? It takes a lot of time, energy and commitment to change for you to be successful at career coaching. Make sure to you are rested, making time for exercise and taking the other basic steps to be healthy, before you add another ball to the juggling act.
  • Is a career coach the professional to consult? Some people decide to find a career coach when they actually need a therapist. Don't make this mistake.

Source: author's reporting, Ernst & Young

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