Choosing a compatible career change coach

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How do you find the right career change coach?

Like most career changers, you’re probably looking for someone who ‘gets’ you.  In the crowded coaching marketplace you’re keen to be reassured by quality credentials and wide experience. First and foremost, your intuition will be primed to find the coach you ‘click’ with - someone you can trust with insights into your personal and professional lives. Someone who can challenge and motivate you, cheer you on and hold you accountable.

I might be the right person for you but I’ll be happy and quick to tell you if I’m not.

Looking for an effective career coach? I suggest these steps. They combine investigation and instinct in the hunt to find the person who’ll work with and for you.

Consider qualifications and experience

Before you begin, think about how much or how little qualifications and experience matter. Coaching is currently unregulated, so anyone can say they are a coach. Are you comfortable with someone who has years of experience but little or no formal training? Do you need to see evidence of extensive accredited qualifications?

The International Coach Federation (ICF) is an independent organisation that accredits coaches and coaching programs worldwide based on a transparent set of industry ethics and standards.

I am a member of the ICF and I’ve ensured that my robust, credible training is ICF accredited.

A great career change coach needn’t have direct experience of your current or prospective roles or industries. In fact not having knowledge of the area will bring perspective, curiosity and unfiltered thinking to your sessions.

My background is in market research, project management, fundraising and the not for profit sector. However my clients include environmental scientists, wine marketers and psychologists. I’ve worked with people who’ve switched companies or gone freelance in their current field. Many of my clients have also reinvented their professional selves in an entirely new industry.

Make the right match

Some people are ‘coaches for all reasons’ and others are absolute specialists. Sometimes it seems like there are coaches for everything. It can be tricky to find that person whose skills and specialties match your needs.

Make sure your prospective career change coach offers the specific support you need. For example, if crafting a stunning CV or rehearsing your interview technique are key ‘to do’s for you, check they’re ‘can dos for your coach.

Career change coaching is different from executive or leadership or life coaching or indeed general career coaching.

Changing careers is a specific, somewhat nutty problem.

Career change coaching is my fourth career. I understand how hard it can be. I vividly recall the stress of being stuck in a job I knew was ‘wrong’, having zero clues about what to do next.
I know the nutty, nerve wracking journey career change journey inside out.  Supporting my clients to navigate its mind numbing lows, to fall down seven times and get up eight and to stay curious and optimistic, comes very naturally. 


Be wary of advisors

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Importantly, whatever their background and speciality, advice shouldn’t be part of what they offer. This is where the confusion between career coaches and career advisors or career counsellors comes in.

Coaches are here to ask questions to help you explore a situation or problem, not to tell you what to do. Any coach who tells you they have the advice and the answers that will fix your life isn’t a coach.

Look for someone who will help you to gain new perspectives, explore your challenges and plot a clear path forward. Most coaches will structure your sessions based on their particular training and approach. Ultimately though, they need to leave the decisions and actions in your increasingly confident capable hands.

Ask how they structure the sessions. Having a framework when you are floating in career change chaos helps you to find your way forwards.

Check the chemistry

A read of their website, social media and articles is a good place to start. On the phone this shouldn’t take long. If the chemistry is right, you’ll connect quickly on a level that’s hard to describe but instantly recognisable. You’ll feel comfortable talking and you’ll ‘know’ that your personalities are a good fit. You’ll be set to build a working relationship based on honesty and trust with a career change coach who can inspire, nudge, and cheer you on.

During your initial (hopefully free) conversation, ask a potential coach how they’d work with you to resolve one of your core issues. If their ‘on the spot’ response is thoughtful and confident and your gut tells you it ‘has legs’ - that’s a great sign. If you’re prompted to say –  ‘I never would have thought of that’- it’s probably an omen.

Wondering if we’d work well together?  Book a 20 minute free chat.


By Jo Green, Career Change Coach

I help people who don’t like their job to figure out what to do instead! I can help you explore what meaningful work is for you. I’ll work with you to lessen the stress of changing careers.

Drop me a note to organise a free 20 minute consultation to chat about your career change and how coaching could help.