If you’ve decided to invest in coaching services to better yourself and advance your career, it’s time to choose a coach who will help you achieve your goals.

Choosing the right person to work with can feel daunting. No two coaches are the same, and a coach who worked wonders for one person may not be a good fit for someone else. 

So how do you know if a coach is right for you

Pay attention to credentials

If you’ve already spent time researching different coaches, you may have found yourself wondering: What do all those letters mean?

You've probably come across a few different combinations of alphabet soup next to the names of coaches and consultants. Some of them may be familiar, but there may also be a few you’ve never heard of.

Here are a few common credentials you're likely to come across when researching potential coaches:

  • PCC (Professional Certified Coach)
  • CP3 (Certified Public Participation Professional)
  • CEC (Certified Executive Coach)
  • MA and/or BA (Master and/or Bachelor of Arts)
  • MSc and/or BSc (Master and/or Bachelor of Science)
  • Certified Facilitator of (insert program)

Beyond indicating education level, these credentials can actually tell you a lot about how (and sometimes if) a coach is qualified, what kind of industry they specialize in, and how much experience they have in their field.

All of these titles indicate that the coach in question has had a particular organization/institution/association verify that they have met a specific standard. If a coach doesn’t have any of these official credentials, it may be a good idea to ask them about their qualifications before doing any coaching with them.

Research their background and experience

A coach could be extremely qualified, well educated, and have years of experience in what they do—but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the right fit for you!

Before booking a consultation, see what you can find out about their exact educational and professional background. Many coaches have had a different career before they started coaching, and you may want to look for someone who has experience in your field, or who has experience coaching others in roles similar to yours.

For example, TallTrees Leadership specializes in healthcare leadership coaching. If you’re a nurse stepping into a leadership role, we might be a great fit! If you’re an executive at a large law firm, we’re probably not going to have the services you’re looking for.

If you’re not sure about a coach’s areas of expertise, reach out and ask! It’s important for you to have a sense of whether and how they will be able to help you.

Prepare for your consultation

Once you think you’ve found the right coach, book a consultation and come prepared with everything you need to make the final decision.

While coaches will generally guide you through a consultation with questions of their own, here are few things you can do ahead of time to get the most out of the session:

  • Put together a list of questions you couldn’t find the answers to in your research
    • What is your educational background?
    • How long have you been coaching?
    • How did you get into coaching?
  • Write down the goal(s) you’re hoping to achieve through coaching
    • I want to feel more confident leading meetings
    • I want to reduce turnover in my workplace
    • I want my team members to feel more comfortable coming to me for help
  • Do some thinking on how you’ll know if the coach is right for you
    • I’ll feel comfortable and safe speaking freely
    • I’ll have a good “gut feeling” at the end of the meeting
    • I’ll feel heard and understood during the session

Find your coach today

Did you know the International Coaching Federation (ICF) has a registry where you can easily find qualified coaches based on your location, background and more? This is a great way to start your research.

Search the ICF registry