Most reputable coaches play multiple roles. They motivate you, identify problems in your performance and attitude, and give you pointers in the art of self-promotion. They might also suggest that you take assessment tests or see therapists or lawyers for specific issues.
If you’re unsure about your career (and who isn’t), consider these factors when deciding whether to see a counselor:
Credentials count. Anyone can open a “practice” as a career coach. Because the field is relatively new, opportunists abound.
Check if a coach has a National Certified Career Counselor designation. For the names of certified counselors in your state, call the National Board for Certified Counselors at (910) 547-0607.
Another group, the International Board for Career Certification, also bestows its own designations. Call (415) 459-2659 for referrals in your state. And check if the coach is licensed by the state. (Most states have licensing requirements.)
Investigate low-cost resources. Your local library or vocational center might offer free career counseling and assessment testing. Also, check with your college alumni club, your trade association, local universities and even religious groups in your area. There are many formal and informal networks of career counselors, and many counselors work with nonprofit organizations.
National networking groups also offer ongoing support, job leads and other career-strategy tools. Like Toastmasters International, a popular club devoted to public speaking, these groups charge a reasonable annual membership fee. Examples: The Five O’Clock Club, (800) 538-6645, and Exec-U-Net, (800) 637-3126.