How do you Choose Your Career/Outplacement Coach?

How do you Choose Your Career/Outplacement Coach?

How do you Choose Your Career/Outplacement Coach?

Unfortunately, Coaching as a profession remains unregulated, which means that anyone can set themselves up as any type of Coach.  So, if you're looking for a Coach to help you manage your workload, business, career, stress, relationships, or life in general, then choose very wisely! 

The issue regarding unqualified Coaches became very apparent in 2020 when it was reported that so-called Online Job Coaches were over-charging clients, sometimes up to £1,000 a month in advance, and not delivering on their promises.  Like many of my peers, it saddened me to hear how unqualified ‘Career Coaches’ were charging many thousands of pounds, promising to find a job for those recently made redundant due to Covid and lockdowns.  It also tainted the reputation of Coaching as a profession. 

I’m often asked the question ‘how do you choose your Coach?’  I always respond with ‘be very careful! ’ as unfortunately, the Coaching industry still remains one of the least regulated professons in the world. Coaching as a sector has exploded in the past few years and sadly there has been a rise in the number of people establishing themselves as a Coach without any relevant qualifications, training, or experience.  You wouldn’t trust a brain surgeon to operate on you physically with no qualifications or training, so be mindful of the dangers of working on changing your mindset and behaviour, or planning your future with someone who hasn’t studied, qualified, and been working professionally for a few years.

It’s sad to see that back in 2020 those in distress fell foul of some glossy websites or Facebook and Instagram ads with individuals promising to change lives, but there was very little demonstrable improvement or measurable ROI.  So, in order to avoid falling into these traps and wasting your valuable time, energy, and money, to identify if a Coach is likely to be effective in a specific area of expertise, firstly it is worth asking yourself the questions: What exactly do you want to work on and achieve, and by when? What is your budget and what level of support do you need?

You may have just lost your job and your previous employer has not invested in any Career Coaching or Outplacement Support for you.  If this is the case, you may be feeling somewhat set adrift, needing support with a new career plan, help polishing your CV and LinkedIn profile, where to find relevant advertised roles, and assistance in preparing for interviews.  Or you may wish to retrain at the same time as jobhunting for a less time-intensive role.  If you're still in employment, you may wish to hone your skills to be promoted.  Whatever you do, do not sign up for a 12-month programme.  If your Coach is good enough, you should find employment way before 12 months are up, even in a challenging jobs market.

Career Transition Coaching or Outplacement should involve help with professional CV writing, researching Executive Search Firms, Recruitment Agencies, and Job Boards, as well as offering advice on networking and targeting of relevant roles.  The Coach should help you with application forms, competency and behavioural based interview techniques, and review any feedback received from potential employers.  You should be signposted to relevant legal and financial advice and receive constructive and motivational feedback in a safe environment from a Coach who is empathetic and can provide emotional as well as practical support.  The Coach should assist you in establishing and clarifying goals, achieving your development objectives, maximising your potential, as well as acting as an objective sounding board. The Coach should help you to identify your transferable skills, address key challenges, clarify career direction, and improve your personal impact. An individual bespoke approach will lead to you achieving quicker results.

Once you have established what you want to achieve, use some of our own robust recruitment methods to check the Coaches credentials and experience:

  • Ask to see the Coaches’ CV, as often they will only provide you with a topline summary or profile, with no dates or previous career history or experience.  If you are looking for an Executive Career Coach/Mentor, ideally, they should have a minimum of 5 years’ experience of working as a senior manager in a corporate organization in order to be able to fully understand the key challenges facing leaders and managers in industry. 
  • The key is to ask the Coach if they have a recognised Coaching qualification and don’t always believe what they profess to be on the web.  If the Executive Career Coach/Mentor is qualified, they should have a minimum of at least 500 hours of relevant Coaching experience, which equates to working with over 30 individual clients, such as CEOs, VPs, Business Owners, Company Directors, and Heads of Departments within blue chip or public sector organizations.
  • Ask how long the Coach has been working as a qualified Coach and ask to see a list of their previous Coaching Assignments, which will demonstrate a track record of supporting clients. For example, if you're working as a Director, you may have ambitions to reach the C-suite.  If so, ask your Coach how many individuals they have helped to gain such a promotion. 
  • Find out if the Coach has worked for, or been trained by, any of the reputable global Consultancies.  If so, this will have tested their credentials, as well as involved background and security checks; it will also have added to their portfolio of skills and experience, which will ensure they deliver best practice.  
  • Also, ask what ongoing development the Coach is using in order to be up to date with the latest tools, techniques and trends. 
  • Ask if the Coach has any qualifications and experience in administering and providing feedback from Psychometric tests, Personality Profiles, and 360 Feedback.  In order to be licensed to use many Talent Assessment Tools the Coach should be qualified in Levels 1 and 2 with the British Psychological Society. Only then should the Coach be able to deliver  feedback and develop a client’s identified key strengths and development areas.
  • Ask what clearly defined, yet flexible, approach the Coach uses to achieve evidenced results; provide them with an example of a Coaching issue to be resolved and ask what models, methods, and tools they would use to solve very specific problems.  Ask what outputs are likely from a SMART Coaching Action Plan, how the Coaching intervention will be aligned with any personal vision and mission and/or your own values and, very importantly, how ROI will be measured.  For example, if you spend £1,000 on 5 hours Career/Job/Outplacement Coaching, how quickly should you expect to recuperate this by securing a great role with a decent salary?  Ask for references to show that the Coach has enabled their clients to obtain a role within a maximum of 6 months.
  • Coaching has to be completely confidential, however, you can ask the Coach to list their client companies and ask to speak in total confidence to at least two individual Coaching clients or their HR department to assess the effectiveness of the Coaches work. 
  • Very importantly, check that they adhere to a set of ethics, such as the ICF Coaching Code of Ethics; be very wary of engaging with individuals, who haven’t established credibility and if in doubt ask them to sign an NDA before engaging them to work in your business or with you privately.  Every Coaching relationship is based on mutual trust, respect, and confidentiality. 
  • Check out the Coaches website, Blog, and LinkedIn Profile to verify qualifications and experience and to read client testimonials.  And, very importantly, ask them how many millions of pounds/dollars of Professional Indemnity Insurance they have!  All professional Coaches should have robust insurance cover if they are offering any form of advice.
  • Ask the Coach what level of supervision they receive.  Every Coach should have a Coach/Mentor who is someone they can check in with, but not break client confidentiality.
  • Be wary of Coaches giving away freebies.  A well respected, qualified Coach will have a busy schedule and probably won’t be in a position to be able to offer a Coaching Programme of a few Coaching sessions free of charge over a matter of weeks.
  • Most importantly - Do NOT sign up to months of Coaching sessions in advance or sign any standing orders.  I’ve heard some horror stories of some unethical practices where Coaches have used hard sell techniques to get clients to sign up and pay for individual or group Coaching sessions for 12 months, only to find that these are just informal group sob-story-sharing-sessions with no demonstrable outputs.  Your Coach can invoice you after the Coaching session, once you have agreed that you are happy with the questioning, assessments, models, tools, and techniques they have used as well as the Coaching assignment or ‘homework’ and goals set and the overall outputs and results.  Invoices are usually paid 30 days after each Coaching session.
  • Finally, have a ‘chemistry coffee’ online ‘face to face’ meeting with the Coach initially for at least 30 – 60 minutes free of charge before the Coaching Programme commences, in order to check out their Coaching style and credentials ‘in person’, as well as to see there is good culture and values fit with you and your business. 

I am often asked to 'rescue' individual Coaching clients who have worked with a Coach, but received no support or guidance, so if you are still in doubt about your requirements, desired outputs, and who is a reputable Coach, then please feel free to contact me.  I’ll happily recommend some professional, reliable Coaches, with absolutely no benefit for me whatsoever.  I simply want to rescue the reputation of the profession I love and have worked in for over 20 years.

About Jill Maidment

If you would like to book any of the following, please contact me.  You can read my eBooks and listen to audiobooks on key leadership topics here.

Executive Coaching and Mentoring, Career and Transition Coaching, Business Coaching, Resilience Coaching, Life Coaching Retreats

Leadership Training, High Performance Leadership Development, Management Training, Leadership and Management Team Development, Facilitated Team Away Days, Group Coaching

Executive Assessment, 360 Feedback, Face to Face 360 Feedback, Talent Management and Succession Planning