I'm often asked how to find a good career coach. There are plenty of people who say they are coaches, but it is critical that you do some research or ask around to make sure you are getting someone who has the knowledge, skills and experience to do a good job. Career coaches vary in terms of their educational backgrounds and experiences in the field. Some coaches are psychologists by training, others may be certified as career coaches, still others have vocational backgrounds, and many more have a variety of other backgrounds. Some colleges and universities keep lists of screened and recommended coaches.
The International Coach Federation is one of the most common certifying agencies of coaches. Another group offering certification is the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches. Still another is the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. They have a certified group of resume writers (Certified Professional Resume Writers), a certified group of interview professionals (Certified Employment Interview Professionals) and a certified group of career coaches (Certified Professional Career Coaches).
But more than looking just at certifications, get recommendations and check references from others who have used the career coach. What has been written about them? How successful have they been in helping other people find jobs or determine their career interests? What are their areas of expertise? How much do they cost? How accessible are they? Do they coach face-to-face or by phone? It is also important to meet with them to determine your own compatibility with them. They should be willing to meet with you first (for free) to determine the level of fit between the two of you.
Once you have chosen a career coach, it is very important to clarify expectations up front for the roles and responsibilities each of you will have in your career journey. Let them know what your expectations are so that they can give you a realistic view of what is possible.