How to Find the Best Career Coach

Search with Ctrl + F Last updated: 2022-08-14

Guest post by Misha Yurchenko

You will never see Cristiano Ronaldo trot onto the football field, mess up a goal, and then ask coach José Mourinho to come on the field and give him some live game coaching.  Professional sports coaching is a proactive not a reactive process.

Yet most people start looking for a career coach only once they feel stuck in their career — an, They may have realized their career choice was a bad fit, were made redundant, or feel woefully underutilized in their current position.

But let’s fast rewind, had they enlisted a coach earlier in their career, they likely would not be in this awkward career stage.  Most career coaches are hired mid-career.  A career coach can provide a tremendous boost to a career when brought in for guidance during the job search and negotiation process.  A coach can help you tap more job search resources, network more effectively, and negotiate a more attractive job offer.

Following are six tips for choosing a career coach to improve your job position and offer.

Seek a Coach in Your Profession/Industry

Most job seekers are so grateful for the job offer that they do not exercise any bargaining power in the negotiation process. A career coach with deep industry knowledge can help  job candidates align their career goals with the company and industry’s current needs, and avoid starting their career on the wrong path.

After five years stuck with number-crunching, John hired a career coach with expertise working with technology startup executives to get unstuck. With the coach’s guidance, John built up his expertise and eventually a consulting career to startups. Could John not have done this on his own? Sure, eventually, but the coach had the current pulse of technology startup needs, knew which doors to push open, and where to make the right connections.  And, importantly, consulted early, this coach could have told John where his job as a bean counter would lead him.

A coach that intimately knows your industry can ideally position you for a job offer. To find them:

  • Ask for coach recommendations at industry associations and events.
  • Connect with social networks in your chosen profession, such as LinkedIn and Reddit, and ask others about their coaching experiences. This is also a useful source of when seeking a coach.

Look for Coaches With Bench Strength

Do not limit yourself. Every coach has something different to offer. A career coach with experience placing Fortune 500 executives may be able to help you open C-suite doors.  But if you want to move from junior consultant to partner in a business consulting firm one day, a coach with more well-rounded business experience could better guide you.

Like a good executive, a coach with bench strength will add the most value. Bench strength means they have stretched their experience— for example, across industries, global markets, job sectors (C-suite, career changers) — and can assist you in developing a broad foundation early to reach your career goals.

But do not stop there. If you are seeking to break into Silicon Valley in California or Crypto Valley in Zug, Switzerland, consider a coach who is part of these professional networks.  This coach belongs to the industry associations, speaks at the conferences, and has an impressive social network — today’s Rolodex. In today’s global market, job candidates with bench strength are in demand and can negotiate higher salaries.

Conduct Informational Interviews

For many job seekers, the informational interview increases the odds of getting the job offer you desire. An informational interview is an interview with professionals in the field you want to work in. You may or may not have met these individuals.  The inteviewee may be an old college chum who is in the industry and/or position you covet, a speaker at a recent conference you attended, a friend of an acquaintance, or a client of your current employer.

The informational interview is essentially a mini-coaching session. At the very least, your interviewee may steer you towards conferences, association events, jobs, contacts, and other useful career information.  Or he may play a more substantial role in your career development, meeting up a few times a year, or more, and even interview or hire you for a position one day.

Keep the meeting short and sweet. If you take less than an hour of their time, they are more apt to be open to meeting with you in the future.

  • Do your research in advance so as to focus on the important questions and make the most of the interview time.
  • Remember you have a hidden agenda. You are seeking a career coach so focus your questions accordingly.

The first step to obtaining an informational interview is to send an email and briefly introduce yourself, your career goals, and the type of information/career guidance you are seeking. Then, follow up with an email or telephone call.

Take Advantage of Free One-to-One Coach Intros

Chemistry is as important in a coaching relationship as it is in your marriage.  You need to feel comfortable with the person you are working with. Many coaches will offer free introductory sessions so you can see how you will work together, and if the connection is there.

One option is to use online coaching connect services.  These are basically sites that aggregate coaching services — the Amazons of career coaching.  If time is important to you, you will enjoy the convenience of setting aside, say, an afternoon or evening to chat with potential career coaches. You may not find your ideal coach on an online coach smorgasbord. That’s okay. Online introductory interviews are offered by most coaches.

Beyond your connection, the coach interview is an opportune time to conduct research.  You could discover:

  • What types of job candidates X or Y company are hiring.
  • The current salary ranges across industries and companies.
  • Upcoming job openings not yet published.

Audition Your Coach for Coaching Style

Adding an analytical lens to the interview process can make a big difference in the coach you choose and quality of coaching relationship  you develop.  Think more like a casting coach for an audition. Following are some transferable questions:

  • What types of coaching roles are you currently in?
  • What types of roles do you see yourself being cast in (Is the coaching style nurturer? bull dog? military commander?)?
  • Is the coach making a meaningful connection with the audience, you?

If the coaching style does not nurture you and build your confidence, you are more likely to fail the job interview and receive fewer job offers.

Conduct a Coach Personality Assessment

Dive deeper into your coach’s personality. Consider what type of coach you will work with most productively.

  • Make a list of employers, teachers, and others who have inspired, guided, and encouraged you on your career and education path.
  • List the qualities you admire in each one.
  • And, importantly, list the personality qualities that brought out the best in you. Depending on your personality type, this may not be the gentle nurturer. If you are a procrastinator, the coach with the kick-butt military background may be the one to push you to do your very best.

Before hiring a coach, find out how others have assessed them. Check online reviews. Ask them for recommendations from past clients.  Follow their social media and blogs to learn more about their coaching style.

You may have figured out the color of your parachute — the ideal career for you — but you could still land in the wrong job. Many career counsellors conduct a Myers Briggs type personality assessment and then suggest you belong in Box A, B, or C. Coaches challenge you to look into the future, envision what you want, align your goals and vision, and then help you take the steps to get there.

Author Bio:   I am an author, blogger and entrepreneur currently based in Amsterdam where I run a global coaching startup platform called I was previously based in Tokyo where I worked for several years as a recruiter helping tech companies like Facebook, Netflix and Amazon hire top talent (as well as startups with market-entry into Japan).  Misha Yurchenko.