How can I find a qualified, reputable career coach?

Nine To Five: Special to The Globe and Mail, Published July 16, 2017


From my online searches, it doesn’t seem that career coaching is a regulated, professional designation. How do you know if they are reputable and qualified to provide advice? Is there a registry or a rating system, as with financial services? What are customary fees and duration of service? Is it worth the investment?


Career counselling is not regulated, though there is Canadian certification available. In Ontario, for one, check the Ontario Association of Career Management website for a listing of members. There are also graduates with career-management diplomas from a few colleges across Canada.

The best way to find a professional career coach is through referral. Considerations when selecting a counsellor:

  • Check out their website, read testimonials, ask for references;
  • You can book a package of multiple visits, or one-offs — the number often depends on where clients are in their life, in their job search and what their goals and needs are;
  • A counsellor need not have experience in your industry though that can be a plus in certain occupations/industries and levels of employment;
  • Chemistry is important if working together for longer than one visit;
  • Availability, location and accessibility: Independent coaches might be available seven days a week;
  • Rates vary from $100 to $200 an hour for an independent; a retail consultant at an outplacement firm may be much higher;
  • Professional resume services should start at $500, depending on varying factors. Plan to sit in on the session or be available for consultation, around three hours plus edit time.

Every professional athlete has a coach; any job seeker would be fortunate to likewise have a guiding light.

Between Job Survival Tips

As the days get shorter and the sunlight starts to diminish, it is harder to stay motivated and do a job search five days a week. Do you have to?

Though attitude accounts for an enormous part of your ability to get through this transition time, using these survival tips might help too.

  • Job search is 5 focused, productive hours a day in the first few months of being unemployed. Get organized, set daily and weekly goals and make the best use of each quarter of the day. Surfing the net, updating Facebook and answering questionnaires does not count for any of the 5 hours; updating and working on Linkedin does count.
  • Balance your day with pleasurable activities or recreation in the afternoons so as to work for a couple hours in the evenings on tasks that don’t require making business calls.
  • Treat yourself to designer coffees rather than designer sportswear. Allow yourself little luxuries. Discount movie theatres are a great escape from the real world of looking for work day in and day out. Free lunch hour concerts downtown get you out of the house, possibly chatting up working folks and they also give you a culture break away from your desk.
  • Let friends treat you to coffees or lunches when they offer, then remember to pay them back when you are re-employed.
  • Attend a yoga, meditation or exercise class minimally 3 times a week. Take care of your body, mind and spirit. Eat more sensibly than ever before. Limit sugars and carbs, truly you are what you eat!
  • Make a list of your assets, liabilities and begin eliminating expenses you can temporarily live without. Create a stripped down budget. Parking costs for instance can accumulate quickly, watch your transportation practices.
  • Keep child care services as long as you can. You need the freedom to go on advice calls and interviews and to meet with fellow job seekers for support and commraderie.
  • Allow yourself the luxury of sleeping in an hour or so later than when you HAD TO get up. You may have to sacrifice some afternoon play time or evenings but you deserve it, guilt free sleep-ins only allowed!
  • Volunteer work is a great remedy for self-pity. Give back to the community, you owe it to yourself and it reminds you of how talented you really are and how much you have to offer.
  • Learn a new sport, learn to cook, play with your kids and your pets more. Explore parts of your city or town you’ve never been to before.
  • If you are going to take your lap top to the local coffee shop be sure to chat someone up as well. You need adult human contact and you need to meet new people.
  • Join a Toastmasters program.
  • Start writing. Keep a journal or twitter of your discoveries, trials and tribulations. Write about a favorite subject that pertains to your work. See if you can get it published in an industry newsletter, magazine or community paper.
  • Laugh more. Whether it is joining Laughter Yoga, watching animals and children play, watching Just for Laughs on TV or hanging out with humorous friends, get those endorphins going.
  • Socialize every chance you get. Join or attend networking groups, Meet Up groups, association meetings, Board of Trade functions, seminars, audit courses for free and go to parties with your head held high and your 30 second info-mmercial honed to a tee – remember to take business cards.
  • Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who are your cheerleaders for success, not naysayers of doom. Close your ears to those who have given up on you and believe you are too old, too inexperienced, too educated, too tall or too far fetched to get the job of your dreams.
  • Look at this free time as a gift, it won’t last forever. You know you will work again, maybe sooner than you think, be good to yourself.

Whatever you do, don’t give up!

Colleen Clarke, Your Resumé Pro

Author of Networking How To Build Relationships That Count and How To Get a Job and Keep It