When NOT To Hire A Career Coach

Don't hire a career coach when your problems go deeper than a job search, says psychologist Ben Dattner.Sure, there is plenty of evidence that a career coach can help jumpstart a job search or career change. But when shouldn't you hire one? When would it be a waste of your precious income, especially given that coaches can charge as much as $250 an hour?

In fact, career coaches say that people should proceed cautiously. "You need to do a cost benefit, especially if you are out of work. It's important to consider the use of your funds. But every day out of work is another day not working for a living," says AOL Jobs blogger and career coach Miriam Salpeter. She and other coaches say that people should not hire one if:

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1. You really aren't open to change. Some clients seek a consultation even though they "are just not open to suggestions," says Salpeter. Before entering the process, it's necessary to honestly admit to yourself if you don't have the personality for such a relationship that will require a willingness to accept constructive criticism.

2. You actually need psychological counseling. It's common for people to seek out a career coach when they are in fact coping with other serious life stressors, says Ben Dattner (pictured above, taking part in a summit last year hosted by Advertising Week), organizational psychologist and author of The Blame Game: How the Hidden Rules of Credit and Blame Determine Our Success or Failure. A prospective client should question whether they are "transferring other problems," from substance abuse to depression, onto their career, he says.

3. You've only met one coach. "Anyone can call themselves a coach," says Michael Melcher, the founder of the New York-based leadership development and executive coaching service, Next Step Partners, who notes that some people who were laid off during the financial crisis remade themselves as coaches. While some may end up being very good at it, some pose as experts on how to enter the very corporate sector they were eliminated from.

Anyone considering hiring a coach should do some research before signing. Ask for references; meet other coaches to get an idea of what kinds of services and approach they will offer. Melcher is quite clear about why potential clients should proceed with caution before signing up with a coach: "There is no barrier" for anyone to enter the field, he says.

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