How to Find the Right Career Coach

Finding a career coach nowadays isn’t hard. Finding the right coach is hard.

I always recommend looking for a coach who has certification that is recognized by the International Coaching Federation. You can check if a coach received their credential from an ICF-approved institution here.

Most coaches offer free introductory sessions--free from any obligation whatsoever. This is the best time to determine what you want from a coach and if you and that coach are a good fit.

For example, when I was looking for career coaching I knew that I wanted to have someone who was affiliated with the military so that I wouldn’t spend all of my coaching explaining the lifestyle.

If I was spending my money to talk about my life, I wanted it to be as productive as possible-- which meant having a coach who already understood the military.  You might feel like you need to have a coach who knows the local economy.  Or perhaps a coach who is well-versed in your particular field might be of the most help to you.

What Does Coaching Cost?

Many coaches provide a variety of options for their clients so that no matter you’re your budget, you can still move forward.

Webinars are free or low-cost, and often have special discounts on services for attendees. Webinars are a cost effective way to get strategies you can implement on your own, but you don’t get the personalized attention.

Coaches will often provide self-paced programs or products for clients who want to get guidance but don’t need or want one-on-one coaching. You may pay a one-time fee for this delivery method, usually from $250 on up, depending on how exhaustive the product is.

If you don’t mind being in a class or group with others, group coaching is an option that ranges from $75 an hour up to several hundred for a series of sessions.

The most expensive but typically most effective route is one-on-one coaching. Coaches’ fees run the spectrum, from $75 up to several hundred/hour. Typically coaching involves a series of appointments in order to accomplish the clients’ goals.

How long does it take?

A client can meet with their coach as often as they want, but the typical meetings occur weekly. Monthly meetings are not advised, unless of course the coach and client have periodic interaction via email. The longest time I would recommend is two weeks between sessions if there is an overarching goal that the client is working toward.

As a coach, I like to solve the problem—not the symptoms. I DO recommend a series of sessions, unless of course a spouse just needs interview practice or advice on handling a very specific situation.

What about a one-time session?

I would say on average clients achieve more lasting results after 6-8 sessions. This allows us to get to the core, exploring what a spouse really wants in a career as well as what is portable. A one-time session will help them find a job, but not necessarily to develop a lasting career.

Consequently, most coaches provide their services in as a series of sessions.  Since I deal with so many military spouses, I do one-time sessions too. I find spouses like this more because you don’t have to commit to something long-term and sometimes they just need to talk through what has been going on in the job search with someone who not only understands the life, but who also has some objective feedback.

The problem with one-time sessions is that we cannot solve everything in just 60 minutes and there is always more to talk about. The good thing, though, is at in an hour session there is a good chance of at least getting spouses back on the right track.

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What is it costing you NOT to work?

Recent statistics show that it is taking military spouses around six months to find a job. The cost of coaching can seem overwhelming at first, which makes it is important for spouses to look at their particular situation to determine whether the cost of coaching is more or less than the cost of not working.

If for example you plan to work 40 hours a week at $8 per hour, not working for 6 months is costing you around $7,700. It’s easier to not think about this money because we never really had to begin with. It’s simply the psychology, but it’s faulty reasoning.

Every spouse has to make the decision as to whether coaching is appropriate. It is not a magic bullet, and it is not for those unwilling to work hard and implement the skills learned. I find the spouses with the highest benefit from coaching aren’t always those with the most credentials or experience, but instead are individuals with perseverance and willingness to make changes.

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