6. Goals. "A good coach should be able to help you determine your overall goals," says McKee. "Even before that, you should establish specific milestones: When can you expect to see results, and what might those results look like?" Otherwise, he says, you're just driving without directions.
7. Consultation. Your first encounter is critical in establishing the chemistry -- or lack thereof -- with a coach, who after all will be sharing intimate details of your life. "Take full advantage of the initial consultation," says McKee. But keep in mind, that first meeting should be free. "Anyone who charges for a first meeting raises a red flag," he says.
8. Guarantee. Say that, despite all your research, your work with the career coach you select doesn't lead anywhere. In that case, what recourse will you have? Will he or she refund your money, extend the term of service, or what?
"Try to find out in advance how often the person has had to give someone a refund, and for what reason," urges McKee. "Many good coaches have been obliged to do this, and those with integrity will be willing to explain those situations without hesitation."
9. Fees. McKee points out that rates vary wildly, with coaches who target middle managers charging anywhere from $75 to $500 for sessions that may last an hour or a whole day. Some coaches want to meet with you just once or twice, to help you figure out some first steps in a new direction, while others work longer-term, on a weekly or monthly basis. Some provide you with books or other materials to supplement your coaching sessions; others don't. Make sure you understand up front how much you will be paying and for what.
"It's okay to be cost-conscious," says McKee, "but avoid being penny-wise and pound-foolish." Don't just hire the least costly coach, in other words -- especially if the intended goal of the coaching, or one of them anyway, is to help you make more money.
Readers, what do you say? Have you ever hired a career coach? How did it work out? Any advice for others who might be considering a coach? Post your thoughts on the Ask Annie blog.
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