width=273Last week over at ABC News, career journalist, Michelle Goodman wrote an article highlighting a job seeker who recently made a $12,000 career mistake. I've heard several similar stories lately. There are 2 career truths in the new economy impacting us directly. You may not want to believe them, but sooner or later, you'll see the following applies to us all:

1. EVERY job is temporary.

2. NOBODY should job search alone.

Okay, so the recession has proved the first truth, but have you really come to understand the second? While we do our best to give you cutting-edge, timely career advice via this free blog, the truth is we will never be able to match the benefits of getting direct help from an expert. FACT: Working with a proven career coach can do far more for you than you just reading and trying to apply the concepts yourself. Consider these 3 questions:

  • Do you still think you can navigate your career and all the complex decisions around finding the right career path by yourself?
  • Do you know exactly what it takes to get hired in the most competitive job market in our history?
  • Do you fully understand the necessity of building a brand for your business-of-one?

Unless you have friends, family members or co-workers trained in job search and career development, the reality is you will need to work with a professional at some point in your career who will close your gap in knowledge and get you on the professional track you desire. In the same way we use trained professionals like doctors, dentists, accountants and lawyers, the time has come that we will all have to invest at some point in working with a career expert.

School teaches you everything EXCEPT how to get the job, industries die in a matter of years and people's areas of professional expertise can fall out of demand overnight (i.e. just ask anyone in mortgages, banking, manufacturing or construction these days). Which means, investing in a career coach to help you shorten your job search and learn how to stay employable long-term will be (if it isn't already) vital to your professional future.

5 Tips for Finding the RIGHT Career Expert for YOU!

The following are tips I give when people ask me the best way to select a career coach to work with:

1. Proof of satisfied customers. Nothing beats a referral when we are buying services of any type. This is your career's health! You shouldn't trust it to anyone you don't feel has a good track-record. In the same way we ask around for a good doctor or dentist, we should seek a career coach by asking others if they have heard of any good ones in the area.

Can't find one? Visit the top career blogs and look at who is providing online advice that really resonates with you. These coaches are usually for hire and their contact info is listed in the post. A good example is how we have 30+ approved career coaches who all offer services on CAREEREALISM.com - we list their profile and samples of their work so readers can reach out if they feel they connect with their style.

2. Always do an Internet search on a coach. If they don't have a strong online presence (i.e. LinkedIn profile with referrals, website, blog, memberships in groups, etc.), then do some extra checking on them. In a digital age, a career coach who doesn't understand the power of personal branding online is suspect! For example, if they aren't doing the right things to market themselves as an authority via online tools, then they definitely can't coach you on how to leverage the Internet and social media to advance your own career.

Also, search on their name and the key words 'bad coach' or 'bad advice' to see if someone has ever publicly denounced their services. That can be harder to find, but it's always good to know what people are saying about a coach.

3. REMEMBER: Certifications and degrees don't automatically make them a great coach. While I think getting certified as a coach can help the coach, it doesn't mean a person is automatically qualified to help you. I've met plenty of certified coaches who are not good at what they do. In fact,  as I've mentioned above, I've met plenty of people who got burned by coaches who gave them poor advice (i.e. quit your job), and when they questioned the advice, the coach said, I'm a certified coach. I know what's best. Keep looking until you find a coach that has the kind of track record that makes you feel confident in their ability.

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4. Interview the coach first - and always for free! All good coaches will offer you a way to chat with them for free prior to paying for their services, either live or by e-mail, depending on the service. It's a chance for you to ask about their approach and methodology so you can be certain you understand how the process will work and what you can expect for results. It also gives you a chance to see if you like their communication style and if you feel like you'd be able to work with them effectively. After sharing your situation with them, here are some questions to ask:

  • What's your coaching methodology? Please outline the steps you take and why they work for your clients.
  • How often and in what way will we communicate?
  • How long will the process take?
  • What can I expect when I'm done?
  • Who works best with you?
  • Who doesn't work best with you?
  • What happens if I'm not satisfied with your services?

While the above questions may seem direct, they set the tone for your relationship with the coach and makes it clear to them you want results for your money.

NOTE: If you get any sense the coach is uncomfortable answering these questions, that is a clear sign to move on. No good coach should struggle to answer the above. As a coach, we all know our coaching styles are different and that not every person is a good candidate for our services. A greedy or inexperienced coach will find it more difficult to answer the above questions honestly and thoroughly.

5. Always get a second (and third!) opinion. It's important first-time users of a coach reach out and speak to at least 3 coaches so they can compare and contrast their methodologies and answers to the above questions. This allows the user to make an informed decision about who to work with. They'll also be more excited about their choice because they'll feel like they chose the right person for them.

And finally....

If the idea of using a career expert makes sense, but you are budget-conscious or were burned by a bad experience, you need to come join me at CAREERALISM Club. I want to show you what being part of a Career HMO can do for you. It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you've got nothing to lose. Mention this article referred you when you sign up and get the  20% discounted rate membership (CLICK the Sign-up button and complete the form for the Preferred Professional option). I promise, the inspiration, education and connection you'll experience will help you see the power of joining a Career HMO.

I wish you all the best and hope you find a career expert that can help you learn how to find the job you want and deserve!