Plenty of people claim to be qualified to help you make your next career move....but unfortunately not all of them are up to the job.
Use these questions to help make sure they can deliver the goods:
1. Work experience - If you needed surgery, would you rather have it done by someone who has performed the operation before, or by someone who has only studied it?
Ask the coach is she/he has real-world work experience that is comparable to yours - I'd estimate that about 70% of self-designated career coaches actually have no career coach training; they're life coaches who have migrated into career work.
In that case, your coach may have few practical suggestions on how to help you achieve work-related goals.
2. Credentials - Choose a coach who belongs to trade organizations like the International Coach Federation (ICF).
Ask them about their school or training institute. When I'm interviewing coaches for my own coach network, BSCNetwork, my favorites worldwide are ICA (The International Coach Academy) and CTI (Co-Active Coaching). But there are other good solid schools - you just want to know they're trained and certified.
3. Fit - Perhaps the most important factor in the successful outcome. You're going to spend a lot of time together, in-person or otherwise. The coach you choose should be someone you'll look forward to meeting each time.
4. Testimonials - Will the coach provide you with references from past clients? If not...why?
5. Guarantee - It's possible that, despite all your research, your work with the career coach you select doesn't lead anywhere. In that case, what recourse will you have? Will he or she refund your money, extend the term of service, or what?
Try to find out in advance how often the person has had to give someone a refund, and for what reason. Many good coaches have been obliged to do this, and those with integrity will be willing to explain those situations without hesitation.
6. Fees - Rates vary wildly. Depending on your location and the role you're looking for, the bills could be $US 75 to $500 /hr for sessions that may last an hour or a whole day. Some coaches provide you with books or other materials to supplement your coaching sessions; others don't.
7. Where? - Some coaches insist that you come to their offices; others will meet with you at the local coffee shop, or work with you by phone / email. Each can work; but if you're uncertain, ask for a trial session.
(BTW - I'm not big on group career coaching. It's better to have all the focus on you; one-on-one.)
8. Goals - A good coach will be able to help you determine your overall goals.
You should jointly establish specific milestones such as, When can you expect to see results, and what might those results look like?
Otherwise, you're just driving without directions.