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The elite Olympic athlete has a trainer that motivates, analyzes and inspires. The concert pianist has a mentor to direct, demand and encourage. So, in helping guide your career, who works with you?


The answer for many of us is, well, no one. Most people think that the career path is a solo journey that’s left entirely up to each individual. Training, teaching and mentoring is only available for athletics and the arts. Well, the growing field of career coaches would beg to differ.


A career coach is simply a person who helps you achieve your goals in the working world. They explore opportunities that you either haven’t thought of or are too busy to deal with. And in today’s society, time has become a precious commodity.


“Career coaching is an interactive process of exploring work-related issues, leading to effective action,” says Marcia Bench, author of Career Coaching: An Insider’s Guide. “The desired outcomes of career coaching include enhanced self-awareness, clarity about life purpose and goals … and overall betterment of clients’ quality of life.”


Quality of life. That’s the key. When a coach can make a difference in improving your career, your life comes along for the ride. And in this life, it’s extremely unlikely you will have the same job for an entire career. Gone are the days where workers started with a company after college and stayed until retirement. As companies focus more and more on the bottom line, lifetime loyalties to its employees are a thing of the past, and vice versa. With outsourcing, mergers and cutbacks, today’s labor force understands that their jobs are more tenuous than ever before. This has resulted in workers taking a proactive approach to careers, leaving a lucrative vacuum for the career coach to step in and offer assistance.


The areas a career coach focuses on are defining options, enhancing your current human relations skills and formulating strategies for job hunting.  They test and assess clients to identify potential careers, help with decision making skills and create effective cover letters and resumes.


If you’re going to hire a career coach, rates typically run between $50-$150 an hour, there are several fundamentals to make sure of before plunking down your hard earned cash.


First, make sure the career coach has professional credentials, is knowledgeable in career development theories and has plenty of references. Don’t go with anybody who promises you the moon. If a career coach guarantees that you will end up with a better career and more money simply by using their services, move on to the next candidate. Finally, make sure the career coach has a clue about your industry. If you sell software, find a career coach who has experience helping others in that same field and attempt to get feedback from those clients.


The career coach should also understand labor trends. If you ask the question, “What are the fastest growing occupations in the United States?” A good career coach would know that. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, home health aides and data communication analysts are the two fastest growing industries.


You’re going to have a relationship with this person, so make sure you feel comfortable with the career coach you hire. Retaining a career coach isn’t like hiring a plumber. This is a personal relationship you will have to maintain for a specific time period. You don’t want to select someone who you either can’t get along with or have no confidence in.

Teena Rose is a columnist, public speaker, and certified/published resume writer with Resume to Referral. She’s authored several books, including "How to Design, Write, and Compile a Quality Brag Book, 20-Minute Cover Letter Fixer, and Cracking the Code to Pharmaceutical Sales.




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