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Baby Boomers: Reinvent yourself with a career coach
By Kerry Hannon / New America Media

Last fall, I had the opportunity to attend the Gerontological Society of America meeting, which brought together 3,600 researchers from around the globe to present research on developing new careers.

Here are some smart ways to find the right career coach qualified to help you:

Look for qualification -- Career coaching is a self-regulated industry and emerging profession. Many coaches have been doing it for years without adding professional designations. But designations are a sign of some formal training and of adherence to general standards of professionalism. A good place to find a directory of coaches is theInternational Coach Federation. ICF-credentialed coaches have met educational requirements, received specific training and achieved a designated number of experience hours, among other requirements. Two other helpful sites are theAssociation of Career Professionals International and the National Career Development Association.

Explore the past career path of a potential coach -- Many so-called career coaches are more life coaches, who focus on esoteric life choices and may lack practical work-world advice. Find out as much as you can about their career path, both in the coaching field and in the regular work world. It’s even better if they have been through a career transition or have a track record of working with people going through the process. Don’t be bashful about questioning potential coaches on their level of expertise for your particular needs.

Ask for at least three references -- Of course, no one is going to hand over the names of clients who didn’t love them, but asking for references is important to your process. Plus it’s imperative to know a potential coach’s work style and how he or she succeeded with other clients starting a new career.

Say no to group sessions -- One-on-one sessions can be in person, or by phone, Skype, Google+Hangout, or e-mail, but you want his or her full attention. Phone sessions are common these days and can be to your advantage. You aren’t restricted to signing on with a coach in your town, and you don’t waste time getting to and from meetings and making small talk.

Expect a free initial consultation -- Once you’ve narrowed your search, interview a few candidates. Never agree to work with a coach without a trial run. This initial session should be gratis. If there is a charge for this meet and greet, pass.
Ask about fees -- Rates vary significantly from $50 to more than $200 per hour. Some coaches require a minimum number of hours. On average, coach-client relationships last from six months to a year. You might sign on for one or two meetings to jump-start your new career course, or weekly or monthly meetings might suit your needs better. Some coaches will provide such resources as books and give homework assignments to prepare for future sessions.

Check out the coach’s website -- This should give you insight into the coach’s areas of expertise and what he or she has published. Search the coach’s name on the web and see if you find uncensored comments written by other clients. You can find coaches who have a blog via directories, such as (search under “career”) or who are on Twitter by searching WeFollow under #coach.

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