Whether you want to change careers or are just starting out, finding a good career transition coach will help you find an ideal job. A trained professional can help get you crystal clear on your goals, build a compelling personal brand, and help identify, find, and land a role that best fits your skills, abilities, and interests.

Following is a “how-to” guide to assist you in choosing a reputable career coach who can help you make the best possible choices in your career development.

#1. Establish Your Coaching Goals

Prior to taking any action, decide on what you want to accomplish with the help of a coach. Do you want help with career path direction? Confidence building? Branding? Networking? Job searching? Interviewing? Salary negotiation? Everything?

A professional coach can help you:

  • Develop more clarity and focus on your professional purpose.
  • Create a personal brand to enable you stand out from the competition.
  • Expand your professional network that will open up more career choices.
  • Optimize your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile and elevator pitches.
  • Develop marketing documents that get noticed by hiring managers.
  • Tap the hidden job market with the latest and best search strategies.
  • Ace interviews and land more job offers.
  • Negotiate a better compensation package.

When thinking about these things, decide which ones you would like help with and the measurable results you’d like to get out of the engagement. The criteria you come up with will help you select a coach that can provide the results you want.

#2. Research Potential Career Coaches

Coaching has become a multi-billion dollar in recent years and there are no government regulations. As a result, the number of coaches has ballooned in recent years. While most coaches will provide some benefit, you want to find one that fits your needs and who will provide the best return on your investment. Take your goals in the previous step and then:

  1. Look for coaches that specialize in what you are looking to do.
  2. Look for a coach with real-world experience who’s “been there and done that.”
  3. Request a complimentary, no-obligation consultation.
  4. Google the coach and look at their LinkedIn profile, Yelp recommendations, online reviews, publications, experience, etc.
  5. In the consultation, ask about their systems, methodologies, and approach.
  6. Also ask for case studies that match yours
  7. Be mindful of the chemistry between you and the coach in the meeting.
  8. Notice if the coach provides value in the consultation or just tries to sell you services.
  9. Find out if/how you can terminate the relationship if It’s not working out after the first few sessions.
  10. Make your expectations clear and ask how s/he will help you meet them.
  11. Ask the coach to send you more information and carefully review what you get.
  12. Do several consultations and compare the results – and trust your intuition!

Following is more detail about how to arrange a consultation, assess different coaching styles, and evaluate your results to make a well-informed decision.

#3. Arrange a Consultation

Once you have selected a short list of potential career coaches the next step is to schedule a consultation. A consultation offers a chance to get to know the person and ask questions prior to committing to an engagement. Some coaches charge for a consultation and others offer it for free. Be sure to ask if the cost of the consultation will be applied to the coaching fee if you decide to move forward.

To maximize the value of your meeting, you can:

Be prepared: Before the consultation, make a list of the questions you want to ask the coach. Inquire about their philosophy, experience, and techniques used to help customers.

To determine your level of rapport with the individual, pay close attention to how you feel during the consultation. Do you feel comfortable talking to them? Do you believe they fully grasp your goals and demands? It’s important to choose a mentor with whom you get along because the coaching connection is mostly built on rapport.

Question the coaching procedure: Ask the coach about their approach and what to expect throughout the meeting to help you comprehend how it works and what to expect from the process.

Discuss the details of what happens in the coaching meetings and get a better idea of the kind of engagement that will work best for you and how you like to interact and learn.

Set clear expectations: Clarify your expectations for the engagement after asking the mentor whether they believe they can assist you in achieving your goals. That might help to ensure that you are on the same page before starting with the coach.

#4. Assess the Coach’s Approach and Style

In the consultation, it’s crucial to assess how the career coach works with their clients and the strategies they employ to assist them in achieving their goals. A few things that you can think about:

  • Coaching method: The coaching philosophies of various coaches range from directive to collaborative. While some of them have a more directive approach and provide specific advice and guidance, others have a more collaborative approach and encourage clients to come up with their own solutions.
  • Coaching philosophy: Coaching philosophy may have an impact on the techniques and approaches they use to help clients. Some place a higher emphasis on the client’s personal growth, while others focus on helping clients achieve specific goals. Some act more like life coaches and others are more tactical and provide more consulting-like service. So compare a coach’s philosophy and approach to your own beliefs and goals and gauge the fit.
  • Methods for evaluation: To provide their clients with a better understanding of their personalities, values, and strengths, many coaches use assessment methods. These resources include, among others, career interest inventories, personality tests, and talent assessments. Examine a coach’s use of evaluation techniques to see if they could be helpful to you.
  • Structure of the session: Some coaches provide one-on-one coaching sessions, while others provide group coaching or a hybrid of the two. Think of the structure of the meeting that would suit your learning preferences and schedule the best. How long are the sessions? How much homework will there be? 
  • Available resources: Does the coach offer exercises, templates, samples of work, referrals into their personal network, recommended reading, video tutorials, audio recordings, and other tangible resources? How long will you have access to them? Are they integrated into the coaching or just offered as ancillary materials?

#5. Consider Logistics and Costs

Some of the things to consider with regard to logistics and your financial investment are:

  • Location: While a few coaches only offer in-person sessions, most provide virtual interactions over the phone or via video conferencing. Based on your availability and location, think about what would be most beneficial to you.
  • The coach’s availability: Whether your schedules align should be taken into consideration. Depending on how busy your calendar is, you might need a coach that offers weekend appointments or flexible scheduling choices.
  • The investment: This can vary significantly depending on the experience and certifications. There are coaches who charge by the hour or the session, and there are professionals who offer packages that contain a set number of meetings. Consider your current finances and whether the expenses are manageable while keeping in mind the return on investment. A good coach will help you make more money and find a more fulfilling role. What is the value you place on the outcome, and does it exceed the investment?
  •  Reimbursement: While unlikely, some insurance policies might pay for the cost of career coaching. Get in touch with your provider to find out if it is covered by your policy. Also, ask your tax accountant if the investment into career coaching can be deducted on your taxes.
  • Relationship duration: Consider the type of coaching engagement—long-term or short-term— that could be most beneficial for you based on your needs and career objectives. 
  • Discounts & package deals: Make sure to ask about any sliding scale the coach may have based on your income. Also ask about packages, discounts if you refer a friend or colleague and if they have an “Alumni Rate” if you return for additional coaching in the future.
  • Guarantees: Does the coach guarantee that you’ll get interviews or a job? How will they support this guarantee and over what period of time?


#6. Evaluate Your Experience

Assess your experience after each consultation to see if it met all of your expectations as well as all the requirements you set up in Step #1. When rating your experience, keep the following things in mind:

  • Did the coach take time to get to know you? Or, did s/he spend a lot of time pitching and positioning? Did you feel heard? Were your specific requirements addressed?
  • Can you see how the information presented and advice received will apply to your professional life? Or did the consultation leave you with lingering doubt?
  • Did you feel optimistic after discussing your problems with the coach? Did s/he make you feel supported and inspired? Did you feel comfortable sharing your issues and aspirations for your career in an open and vulnerable manner?
  • What does your intuition tell you? Besides meeting all of your defined requirements, did you feel in-flow with the coach? Were there any red flags you noticed? Any questions or concerns that remain unanswered? If so, go back and ask more questions and do a follow-up consultation.
  • Can you see yourself getting what you need from the coach? Did their approach and resources look sound, logical, and useful? Did they take the time you needed or did you feel rushed? Do the testimonials and recommendations of their previous clients speak to the results you’d like to get?

Go back to the requirements you wrote down in Step #1 and rate each coach accordingly. Which one met most, if not all, of your needs? If it’s close, ask for a follow-up consultation and ask to see the process flow, exercises, and resources that will be provided in the coaching engagement. Continue to ask questions until you feel you truly understand what each coach can offer you.


A good career coach will definitely help you define, realize, and accelerate your professional aspirations. Shop around and interview at least 3 different coaches to assess style, competency, and fit your specific needs. The best-fitting coach may not be the least expensive, so make the cost only one element of your decision criteria. Remember that a good career coach will give you tools that you can use for the rest of your life.

You’ll be well on your way to choosing the right mentor who can assist you in achieving success by deciding on your coaching goals, researching potential mentors, conducting consultations, evaluating each one’s offer, taking into account logistics and expenses, and making a decision based on both qualitative and quantitive factors that are important to you.

Take your time and invest in a competent coach and then be ready to do the work. The combination of a strong mentor with your commitment to self-development and learning will provide a solid return on investment that will pay financial and fulfillment dividends for the rest of your career.