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How to Pick the Best Coach for You

"As long as you’re taking action to move in the direction of who you are and what you love, you’ll be presented with opportunities that you probably could have never planned for yourself.” ~ from What I Learned Working With a Career Coach

In my line of work, I’ve been approached by a wide variety of individuals asking for help. And while I’ve helped a ton of people get pointed in the right direction, I’ve found a lack of knowledge about key types of guidance, and the vetting process, so today I’m sharing a few examples, definitions, and tips.

Career Coaching

Alternately titled job search consultants, coaches “see themselves as a resource for anyone who is grappling with how to find work.” Is A Career Coach Worth The Money? advises us that “coaches can help guide clients to their niche in the workforce.”

As a Coach, I am a job search strategist, helping those who already know where they want to go, but need direction to improve their chances in hitting those targets. As Aimee Levens Consulting, I provide assistance in empowering clients to take those next steps, using my longtime experience as a recruiter to provide a customized blend of assistance with resumes, networking, interviewing, cover letters, LinkedIn, job search tools, offer negotiations, and more. I use my hands-on background in multiple industries - AKA street cred that is not found in the traditional "resume writer" that abound these days - to help clients get on the right track.

However, I’m not here to tell you what kind of career to pursue. I will ask questions, and offer perspective, but ultimately I’m here to get you closer to the goals you’ve created.

Not everyone is ready for this type of “actionable coaching”, so often I refer the prospective clients who aren't sure what they want to do next to first see a Career Counselor.

Career Counseling

The National Career Development Association defines Career Counselors as “professionals attaining at least a Master’s degree in counseling or a related degree and who…advise, coach, and counsel individuals to develop and put into action decisions and plans related to lifestyles and career paths.” They are – yep you guessed it – counselors, and can look at your whole life, with tools to analyze interests, skills and more.

Portland’s own Vicki Lind, for example, offers "Career Exploration", to help delve into where you’re best suited, through tools including self-assessments (I am not a fan of all of the assessments out there, but do adore StrengthsFinder). As a counselor, her background is in psychology and education – perfect for figuring out “what do I want to do next?”

Want something even more holistic? Diane Dreizen combines life coaching with career counseling to help people with the personal “stuff” that’s getting in the way of career fulfillment – or life fulfillment in general. Adding a focus on meditation and energy medicine, Diane guides clients to find ways of reducing stress, becoming highly effective, personally fulfilled, and overcoming obstacles to success.

Services for Women

Cindy Nash-Hooker uses her HR and leadership coaching background to help women recognize their strengths to achieve their goals.  As I’ve utilized her services in my own career, I often recommend her to my clients before or after coaching. She offers executive and traditional coaching services to both individuals and teams, and decades' worth of HR expertise to companies of all sizes.

The Vetting Process

  1. Get references.  Every professional should have testimonials from clients.

  2. Understand qualifications.  Do you want someone writing your resume who doesn’t have experience screening them for employers?  Do you want someone providing assessments and counseling who has no formal training?

  3. Know their rates upfront.  Fees vary incredibly widely among coaches and counselors. Get this information at the start.

  4. Ask questions.  Understand the process and ensure it gels with what you’re looking to achieve. Are they doing the work or offloading it to someone else, for example? It’s your career – take ownership!

  5. Be prepared to act.  Commit to the time, and commit to yourself.  As Michelle Sosinski, an Executive Coach, reminds us, “If you want to engage in this process, be prepared to challenge your preconceived notions of yourself – and be open to change.”

  6. Go with your gut.  Like any service provider, there is a wide range available. Talk to several, and pick one you trust. If you feel “sold” to – RUN.

Got questions? Want to connect? Comment here or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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