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How to find a career coach to suit you

Following on from our recent feature about career coaches many readers have asked how to go about looking for one. With so many career coaches on the market, it can be hard to know where to begin, but with some key questions and initial research on your part, you’ll find someone who can offer you just what you’re looking for.

It also depends on the reasons you are looking for a coach – do you want a career change? Are you looking to progress in your current career? Are you having personality issues with your boss? There are several reasons why you might feel the need to consult a career coach, but you can be sure that with a bit of delving, you’ll find the right coach to address your specific concerns.

Denise Taylor, career coach and founder of, has devised a helpful guide to the questions that you should consider before taking on a career coach. She recommends that you talk to three coaches in your final shortlist – it’s important that you find someone who you connect with and who you feel comfortable talking to. Here’s her guide to finding the right coach for you:

Career Exploration & Discover

What relevant qualifications do you have?

Many career coaches have chosen to specialise based on personal experience or attendance at a one day course. Others will use a specific book as a guide but may lack the breadth should a different approach be required. If you need expert advice as well as someone to help find the answers within you, you need a specialist recognised by the British Psychological Society or Institute of Careers Guidance.

How long have you been offering this service and what is your track record?

You need to choose someone with significant experience.

What assessments do you use?

There are many free and self-created inventories available that people have access to for minimum cost and qualifications. For assessments that have been proved to measure what they set out to measure – and therefore be of real use – you need assessments recommended by a Chartered Psychologist and administered and discussed with someone with BPS level A and B qualifications.

How will you help me to find out what job I should do?

Talk to the coach to find out what methods he or she uses – for example, I use a combination of coaching/counselling and advice along with creative and structured exercises and assessments.

Job Search Support

What experience do you have of interviewing and recruitment?

You want to choose someone who can provide interview feedback based on actual interview experience.

Can you provide feedback on my CV?

You want to know your CV is going to be an effective self-marketing document.

How successful are you in finding people a job and do you really know about the unadvertised market?

Look at people’s track records, talk to former clients. Find out what people mean about the unadvertised market – do they really know what they’re talking about?

Can you help me set up systems to keep everything organised?

It helps to use systems that work, rather than to create your own, and a good career coach will already have good forms and systems in place.

Career Management

What qualifies you to help me to increase my profile at work?

You don’t just want the theory, or advice from a book, but specific and practical advice from someone who has done this.

How do I know you can help me to deal with a difficult boss?

Again, does the person you choose to work with have experience of how to handle this, plus the knowledge to get improvements?

Should I undertake additional study and would an MBA be right for me?

You need to discuss this with someone who has a breadth of knowledge of different courses and qualifications, plus what is required in the market.

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