We can all use some help when things in life get tough or when things are stagnant in our life and we need a push which is why the idea of hiring a coach has become increasingly popular. As a career, coaching is quite in its infancy but it is certainly growing.  As it grows, it is unavoidable that there are those who may take advantage of this new career option: the “jump on the band wagon” coach, the coach who makes wild claims of success while ripping you off, or the simply incompetent  and ineffective coach.  Choosing a coach that best suits your needs is a big factor in your overall satisfaction.

Here are some tips to help you pick the right coach for you.

1) Be clear on what is important to you before embarking on your search.  Here are some questions you can ask yourself to gain that clarity:

– What do you want to use your coach for?
– Does it matter to you whether your coach is male or female?
– What background would you like your coach to have?
– What do you expect from your coach?
– What about you would be helpful for your coach to know in working with you?

2) Check for Certification: Not everyone who calls himself or herself a life coach is certified by an accredited professional school. Certification is important because life coaching is a profession with a foundation of training that includes very specific skills and standards of conduct that are only taught in qualified schools. There is a governing body for the profession of life coaching, the International Coach Federation (ICF), which does evaluate and qualify the different training programs that are out there and sets and monitors the international standards for professional coaching ethics, training and practices. While life experience has immense value in any profession, it does not take the place of professional training and it is not enough to qualify someone as a life coach.

3) Make sure it is a good match: It is a good idea to talk at least three coaches before making your decision. You want to work someone who you think will really work to understand you; an effective coach for one person may not be right for another. You will want to feel comfortable enough with your coach to develop the trust necessary for effective coaching. Here are some questions to touch on with your potential coach:

– How long have you been coaching?
– Describe the characteristics of the clients who relate best with you?
– What is your specialty or niche?
– Tell me about your background and your experience

You will know you have found the right coach for you when you intuitively feel that the person you are working with has your best interest at heart  and you feel excited to begin your work together.