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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

3 Things To Know Before Hiring a Career Coach


I've been a career coach for years now, so as you can imagine, I have a lot of opinions on the topic.


I've coached and I've been coached, so when I encounter the attitude that career counseling is a monolithic, universal experience, I can't help but push back a little.

Coaches are different, and their programs vary wildly, so the key is to identify what your specific needs are, and what you're comfortable with.


Do you want a cut and paste program?


Not every coaching program is built around you specifically. There are some programs that take a more one-size-fits all approach, and that works for some people. You follow a roadmap and go through five to ten steps that are applied to everyone.

But if your situation is complex or nuanced, a cookie-cutter approach might not work for you, and you may work better with a coach that crafts a program for your specific situation.

Before you start, ask if the coach is using a specific formula or methodology, and decide whether that system will suit your learning style. It might work great for you! Or it might not. Better to know up front.


Do you want to be one of many?


Depending on the scale the coach is operating at, you may enter a program that pushes you into a cohort of 10-20 other people going through the same program as you. There may even be multiple cohorts operating at one time. So before enrolling in any program, I recommend getting clear on the format of how the counseling will work. You may not feel comfortable talking about your private work situations with a group of relative strangers. You may not want to receive your personalized coaching over side chats and DMs.

This method isn't my style of coaching (I'm more of a one on one coach), but these programs can work great for some professionals! The key is to consider your learning style up front.


Think about it like sports


I'm a big sports fan, so I look at career coaching in a similar way. There are lots of different styles of coaching. Nick Saban has a coaching style that works great for Alabama, but might not work as well with a different team. Not all coaches have the same style, and not all players receive coaching in the same way. So I encourage you to approach your career coaching with a spirit of finding what works for you.


What works best for me and my clients


Personally, I think that the best type of coaching is created specifically for each individual client in one-on-one sessions or in small groups capped at around six people. Having tried other coaching programs in my own career, what I was hungry for was personalized guidance and access to specific, on-the-ground methodologies I could really get my hands into. High-level concepts interested me less than practical tactics I could use, taught to me by a teacher who I felt comfortable asking questions.


If a custom-made, nuanced coaching program could help you in your career, let's connect. Click here to get a consultation with me on your calendar, and we can get started.


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