Executive career coaching is taking the world by storm as professionals decide to seek expert advice on how to improve their careers. The increase in demand has led to a huge rise in the number of career coaches that now exist globally. The International Coaching Federation found that in the year 2012 there were over 47,000 coaches around the world; a figure that had grown from 30,000 just five years before.
So what is the point of having a career coach? One executive careers service says that the sessions are “designed to help you fulfil your career desires through step-by-step programs customised to your needs beyond just career advice”. In a similar way that a person might visit a therapist when having personal problems, and a businessperson might employ a financial accountant when experiencing money-related issues, career coaches are being used as a way to gain expert advice on professional issues – and that includes the exploration of personal matters that might also affect working life. The experience is designed to help you in a number of ways. Its advocates claim that it can push you through the stalling of your career, that it can help steer you when you feel like you lack direction, and in some cases, that it can help you to become a better leader.
Natalie Trice had been working as a PR executive for almost 20 years when she decided to enlist outside help in the form of a career coach to guide her through her career change. When interviewed by The Telegraph, Trice said: ‘I got homework assignments, tests and quizzes that my coach had created to further explore my passions. She asked me what was I tolerating, what I had accomplished, what I like about myself, what I enjoyed from my last job, which three things about my career I most wanted and would most like to change. She made me think about things in a different way and challenged me.”
Though coaching is becoming ever popular, the truth is that it is difficult field to regulate, which means that the individuals who call themselves expert coaches and charge anything between £100-£2000 per session may not actually be the experts they claim to be. Though the International Coaching Federation has attempted to improve this issue, it remains largely up to clients to ensure that their coach is the real deal.
The managing director of Penna Career Services, Bev White, suggests: “If you’re looking for a coach, make sure they are accredited by one of these bodies. Look at their experience and background and, in particular, testimonials. Ask people you know for recommendations. And have an initial consultation to outline your goals and see how your coach plans to get you there. The first thing you should establish is how well you get on with your coach and how well they understand you.”
If unsure about whether career coaching is really for you, it could be helpful to seek the advice of someone you look up to in a professional capacity – a mentor. Rather than paying (possibly) thousands of pounds for something you’re a little sceptical about, it might be a good idea to ask this trusted person for their advice about how you can get to the next stage in your career.