Starting a new career or strategizing how to make the right moves in your current role can be scary and nerve-wrecking. Where should you focus your energy? What are things that can set you apart and make you shine? A career coach can guide you on your journey and give you the wisdom to up-level your career.
The most important aspect of a fruitful coaching relationship is, of course, finding the right one. They have to be on the same page as you, or the relationship is awkward or complicated. There needs to be a level of trust, understanding and respect for there to be fruits. If the relationship between you and your coach is rocky, or simply the two of you don’t see eye-to-eye, you can end up wasting time and money.
So what do you need to look for?
1. They're have great experience
When you are just starting out in a career or new field, of course you’re looking for someone who has “done it right” or is already successful in that field to help guide you.
Where do you see yourself going? What are you interested in learning more about? Find someone in that area who is recognized and highly experienced and don’t be afraid to ask if they’d be willing to coach you. Make sure that you are very clear on your objectives and what you hope to get out of the relationship in your initial meeting with the career coach. This goes the same for a career you’ve been in for a while and are either interested in advancing or moving to a new area altogether.
And FYI - just because the career coach has a degree or certification does NOT mean they are experienced!
2. They have STRONG communication skills
Having good communication skills is incredibly important because if the advice you are getting isn’t clear and concise, it won’t be very beneficial to you, right? You’re less likely to be successful when you can’t clearly understand the steps you need to take. A coach should be able to clearly communicate to you what you need to do in order to achieve your goals, as well as communicate to you areas you need to improve (they aren't there to be your friend!).
3. They listen...truly listen
Wait, isn't this the same as good communication skills? Nope. You can find a great career coach who thinks they know what is best for you, based on them coaching clients LIKE you. But what you'll find is that they don't listen to your specific goals and match them with your experience and unique personality. A great coach will really listen to you and be able to guide you to reach your FULL potential.
4. Your personalities align
It is so important that you and your mentor get along. You don't have to be best buds, but you need to be on the same page when it comes to your goals in your career. When you like each other, you are more likely to succeed and are happier throughout the process. You don’t necessarily need to agree on every little detail though (again, the coach shouldn't tell you exactly what you want to hear, but challenge you to think differently about aspects in your career you are already somewhat aware of). When you have some opposing views, it might help open your eyes to new possibilities you didn’t even know to exist. Or that coach could help clear up any misconceptions you might have!
5. They make time for you
When you find a GREAT coach, their schedules may be tight, but for a reason. They know how to plan and manage their days, but if they are rarely available for calls or take days to respond to emails - that's a sign they probably aren't the best for you. You want a career coach who takes the time to focus on YOU and your challenges; ultimately making you a better person in your organization. A great coach has time to dedicate to getting to know you and your ambitions and help give you the guidance you’re looking for on a regular basis.
Here's the thing, once you find the right coach for you, recognize that this is a two-way relationship. You need to be as open to guidance as they are to giving it. Be honest with yourself on what you want, and be willing to accept opportunities for improvement when necessary. When you find the right coach for you and your career ambitions, it’s a powerful thing!