Everything You Need to Know About Hiring a Career Coach

Everything You Need to Know About Hiring a Career Coach

If your current job is a snooze or you're having trouble finding a new gig in this age of unemployment, hiring a career coach to help you figure out what excites you and to get your resume in shape could be a smart move. But career coaches aren't for everyone. Find out if hiring a career coach is right for you, and if so, how to select and work effectively with one.

With unemployment at a 16-year high of 7.6 percent and job opportunities very scarce, what job seeker wouldn't want to hire a career coach-someone who can help him quickly land a job in this bear market?

Career coaches and the clients who use them say coaches can give job seekers a competitive edge in a number of ways: They can help job seekers develop unique personal brands that will differentiate them in a crowded market. They can help job seekers mine the " hidden job market" for unadvertised positions. They can also help job seekers articulate their strengths and passions in professional communications (e.g., résumés, cover letters, "elevator pitches" and mock job interviews) that will grab hiring managers' attention.

Because recession-weary job seekers are looking for all of the above assistance, career coaching services are experiencing a surge in demand, says Kim Batson, a certified career management and leadership coach who works with IT leaders.

"As soon as the economy started tanking last September, the [coaching] industry experienced a couple of weeks of quiet, but then the floodgates opened in November, December and January," says Batson. "Because a lot of people have either been laid off or they want to prepare themselves in case something happens, we are seeing an uptick [in demand]."

But hiring a career coach isn't right for everyone. For one thing, career coaching services tend to be pricey. They can range from US$125 to $500 per hour or from US$375 to $3,000 per package, according to Laura DeCarlo, president of Career Directors International. So if you're unemployed and money is tight, you have to carefully consider whether spending money on a coach is worthwhile.

What's more, the service is not a quick fix. "This is not a situation where the coach waves a magic wand and gives you magic insights and everything is all better," says Curt Rosengren, a career coach in Seattle who specializes in matching people with professions. "If what you're really trying to do is buy a solution, the solution comes from the work you do."

Here are eight signs that may indicate you're ready to hire a career coach and three signs that indicate you're not. In addition, here are eight ways to find a coach who's right for you and five tips for making the most of your coaching sessions.

8 Signs You're Ready for a Career Coach

1. You're bored or frustrated with your job, but you don't know what else to do for work.

2. You're looking for a new job and sending out résumés, but your job search efforts are not bearing any fruit: You're not getting calls in response to your résumé; you're not being asked in for job interviews; you're not receiving offers.

3. You need help crafting a résumé or cover letters, and help presenting yourself in job interviews.

4. You're not moving up the career ladder, despite your hard work.

5. You need help differentiating yourself from other job seekers.

6. You need someone to hold you accountable for achieving your career goals.

7. You're willing to explore new ideas and to look inside yourself for answers.

8. You want to be successful, and you want to accelerate achieving your career goals.

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