■ Ask for references from past clients. If a career coach won’t provide references, don’t even think of hiring him or her. One of the best ways to find a good career coach is through recommendations from friends and colleagues.
■ Visit or check out the website of a university’s alumni or career office. Colleges often maintain a list of screened and recommended career coaches in the area. At Babson College’s Olin Graduate School of Business, for example, the MBA career development center provides alumni with a list of 15 prescreened career coaches, said Cheri Paulson, the center’s director.
■ Look for “coaching certificates” issued by credentialing organizations. Consumers, however, should be aware that there are many unreliable groups that merely sell certificates to anyone who wants one. Among the respected credentialing groups for career coaches are the Center for Credentialing and Education in North Carolina and International Coach Federation in Kentucky.
The International Coach Federation issues about 2,000 coaching certificates a year, the majority of them for people intending to become executive, leadership, transition, and career coaches, said Magda Mook, the chief executive. To receive a general coaching certificate, the federation requires anywhere from 60 to 200 hours of instructions and mentoring from accredited schools and previously certified coaches.
Jay Fitzgerald can be reached at email@example.com.