coach.jpgI often get nasty emails and comments when I write articles and columns. That’s just part of the life of a journalist.

But I was a little surprised at the outpouring of anger I received from career coaches in emails and on Newsvine after my column on career coaches came out on MSNBC.com this week.

In the piece, I basically cautioned people to do their due diligence when hiring such coaches:

Such coaches can be helpful in offering career guidance, but you need to beware of scammers and individuals promising you a quick path to the perfect job. And keep in mind that pretty much anyone can become a career coach since there is no mandatory credentialing or governing body keeping tabs on these people.

As a journalist, my job is to report on my beat and do what I can to give readers a balanced view of what’s going on.

I’m assuming good career coaches are informing their clients to be smart about what they do, do a lot of research, and not walk into any career situations blindly.

Also, I hope they’re not advising their clients to personally attack people on the Web when they don’t agree with what a person has written. I don’t mind getting slapped around, but an individual mad at a boss probably wants to keep public displays of anger in check. You don’t want that coming up when you’re looking for a job and a hiring manager Googles your name.

That said, I felt it was important to let some readers who did not agree with my piece to get their opinions out so I’m publishing a few comments here. Some make good points, while others seem a bit off base. Either way, they should be heard. I’ve also included some comments from people familiar with coaching who thought the piece was helpful.

“Shame On You”
After reading your article, “Career coaches may not always be best call” (Sun, June 7, 2009) I feel compelled to respond. Please do your readers the favor of clarifying the difference between a Career Coach and Job Search Coach. While I agree “Career Experts” have popped up at an alarming rate, not all career and search strategists sell snake oil.

Allow me to explain – We have been leaders in the job search industry for more than 30 years. Our company features a mother and son team that functions with success light years ahead of the competition. We make no promises of tapping the unadvertised job market or résumés of 100% guaranteed success within 30 days. Our service sustains until our clients land.

What specifically do we do? We create résumés/cover letters, distribute these tools to recruiters, network our job seekers to employers, teach (in-depth), technologies of job search (i.e. LinkedIn, Google Profiles, Visual CV, Twitter, Email Signature Lines and Browser/Web Site Management Systems), and interview/negotiation strategies up through the point of an offer. We are very customized and spend much one-on-one time, literally hours training our job seekers to perform in search and interviewing.

We regularly stay up till 4:00am and 5:00am (especially my mother and industry leader, Janice Worthington) preparing these tools and strategies that enable our clientele to not just compete, but to out compete. Most recently, while featuring as career search experts for the International Council of Shopping Centers (in Las Vegas of all places), we simultaneously navigated a CIO through 3 offer negotiations with 3 different companies. No matter what the time or place, we are there for our clientele. Combined with job search groups we sponsor, blogs we write pro bono and advice we willingly provide, we should hardly be categorized with those in your article.

Especially in this climate, do your readers a favor – Amidst those career-ladder secrets you know, speak the truth in not just a whisper but loud and clear like your most recent column…

~Jeremy Worthington, CARW; CCTC, Janice Worthington, CPRW, JCTC, CEIP
Worthington Career Services

I read your article with interest this morning and found your suggestions and guidance to be right on the mark. The company I work for has been doing career transition consulting and coaching for over 30 years and we find it amazing how everyone is now an expert at finding employment for others. LHH goes through a certification process in house for all career coaches and provides every client, individual and corporate, with a money back guarantee. We also provide information and a clear timetable of services up front that can be measured and quantified. Quality surveys are done for all services rendered and if a client’s service is long enough, more then one quality check is done. Our reputable competitors do many of the same things and are the type of business competitor that reflects well on an industry.

The other idea that you mentioned but only briefly is that finding a job is the responsibility of the person looking for work. No matter who or what service they work with or receive from their former company it is their task and “job” to find a new job/career. I do not mean this to sound cold but too many clients come into service with the attitude of “they” will find me a job and “everyone” loves me. Loving you and needing you to make a company stronger and more profitable are two different things. Today’s market is definitely a buyer’s market. Separating yourself and bringing a value to your perspective new company is what the job seeker has to understand as the key to getting the new opportunity.

Thank you for bringing to light the dangers of unproven and unscrupulous career coaches. I enjoyed the article.

~John F Burke, SVP/General Manager Houston, Lee Hecht Harrison

I just felt as though I need to answer this article. I am a Certified Professional Resume Writer who went to school to write resumes, and continue to take classes so that I can give my client the best chance for an interview. I am also in the process of becoming a Certified Employment Interview Professional. This designation also requries schooling and passing a test. Here is what I can do for my clients:

Give them tips on how to interview well.

Provide practice interviews and ways to overcome tough questions while honestly answering the interviewers questions.

Help guide people who want to change careers decide the best avenue to achieve their goals.

Help people who have problems on their jobs own what they need to and figure out where they need to go. The person with the issue needs to be the one working on the solution. Career coaches are just guides.

Here is what I cannot and will not do:

Help them look for work

Do any job searches or research for them.

Oh, and by the way, I aslo have a background in Human Resources.

Career coaches serve their place and any good coach will not even begin to try to do the job of the job seeker. Just my two cents worth.

~Patti Rock, CPRW, Hoff Resumes & Career Counseling Services

I read your coaching article with interest, and for one, I am thrilled that you are exposing these people. They often prey on those who are desperate and ultimately do little more than brag how they can work from home in their bathrobes while coaching business leaders.

Those who claim to train coaches are to better. Offering “certificates” in coaching after one pays exorbitant fees and takes basic classes is also a joke.

These people give legitimate advisors a bad name. I won’t refer to myself as a “coach” because these people have given our profession such as bad name.

One thing you should know is that there are coaches who specialize in different areas, such as interpersonal skills, speaking before an audience, sales skills, “life planning”, marriage counseling, and the list goes on.

I am an advisor to CEOs and their direct reports, of fortune 1000 companies. In over a decade, I have made many millions of dollars advising people at this level. At the core, the issues are never about professional competency, and always boil down to interpersonal skills, teamwork, and communication skills. No one has ever come to me and said, “You know John, Max over here is a good guy, but he’s really not that great at engineering.” They never come to me about anyone’s technical skills…it’s always about communication. And coaching can help make significant improvements in these areas, but it does take time.

I felt the need to write to you because I agree with your points, I think coaching has a very bad name and I cringe when people introduce me as a “coach” because of the negative ramifications associated with so many of these “make a fortune in your bathrobe while setting your own hours and working from the privacy of your own home.”

I put a suit on every day I am with clients and pride myself on being more professional than any other person my clients will ever deal with.

Thanks for exposing these people.

~John D. Callos, President & CEO, IdeaBridge

I am disappointed in your career coaching article, mainly because you do not talk about career services that are provided by master’s level or above career counselors, a regulated profession. Career Counselors have helped teens and adults throughout the previous century and continue to do so today. It is important to point out to job seekers that there are services available to them, instead of leaving them with the sense that no assistance is out there.

~Andrea King, M.S., N.C.C., Careerful Counseling Services

I love Eva’s stuff (she is a very talented writer), but am disappointed by this article.

I am a career coach (surpassyourdreams.com) that has dedicated her life to help people find satisfaction in their career. I never promise the moon, but I do promise action. People in this economy are scared and as long as the media keeps telling them they are lucky to have a job, they are afraid to move or do anything about it. Career coaches help with clarity and courage. You may not get everything you want in your career instantaneously. But if you put together a plan that includes a clear vision with support and accountability, you will get where you want to go.

One note: I am certified through the governing body of coaching which is the International Coach Federation. It’s a serious process you go through and it’s not an easy test to past. If you work with a coach that is ICF certified, you are working with a coach that knows his/her stuff extremely well.

~Deb Brown-Volkman, Career Coach

So sad to see an author’s opinions being presented as fact based on the experience of publishing a book or two. I wonder how many job seekers has this author actually helped? How many testimonials can she offer to her readers?

There is NO comparison between self-study through books and regular human interaction with a trained/certified/experienced career coach. What book offers discourse on choices or empathy on personal situations endured?

There ARE credentialing bodies for career coaches, most notably the International Coach Federation and the Institute of Career Certification International (). There are even some colleges and universities now offering coursework in coaching.

As a Career Management Fellow through ICC International, a Master Certified Career Coach through Career Coach Institute, and an Officer of the Board of the Association of Career Professionals International (), I can attest to the fact that most career coaches are true professionals. Career coaches help people discover career options and make tough career choices; clarify/organize their thought processes; enhance their workplace communications; and support/guide them in solving their most challenging career-related problems. And NEVER do true career coaches find jobs for their clients!

In this very trying recession when layoffs happen at the drop of a hat, career coaches help layoff victims work through the shock and anger of job loss so they can find the courage to risk rejection as they submit resumes into a great abyss and compete for new jobs among hundreds on candidates for each position.

Active on both Twitter and LinkedIn, I have many times referred followers to MSNBC’s career column. Too bad I won’t be doing that anymore.

Oh, BTW, I’m celebrating 10 years as a career coach this year after working as a recruiter, job developer, and employment specialist since 1986.

~Meg Montford, Career Coach

Keep in mind, this article was written by someone who doesn’t need any real training to be a writer. There are no Governing Bodies to license writers.

There are many scam artists out there parading as writers. Don’t unwittingly fall for or pay to read the work of these unlicensed people.

This writer doesn’t understand, nor did she research, anything about career coaches. She greatly misrepresented what a career coach does.

If you are sitting there wondering what to do, you might need a career coach. You probably need one more than reading the rants of a misinformed writer with no license.

To point out that people need help from someone who understands then to say, “…that Person does not exist…”, is a real disservice to the readers.

If no one can help, then why read this article?

This is another example of when an uninformed person tries to sum up something they don’t understand in a rush to complete content for the internet.

It is misinforming the public. The real tragedy is not that it was written, but that it was accepted by an Editor; someone who is supposed to check the quality of the content created.

If I were Rupert Murdoch, I’d fire the writer and the editor. (I know they are supposed to be capitalized but they did not earn it today)

Then I would suggest they go see a career coach about the opportunities, oh that’s right, they don’t really believe anyone can help you with your career.

Luckily, Career Coaches can help and do help. If it were up to me, the Editor and Writer of this article would learn that today since they have not achieved that level of professional understanding as of the date of this article.

It’s sad to see a big media outlet like this put such hubris on a large scale that would further discourage the hopes of American Job Seekers. Shame on you.

One last thing, this was written by CareerDiva.net and that is a career coach site. Why use a career coach or listen to one that does not believe it works. You should never talk bad about your industry.

~HR Manager (anonymous)

Just one clarification. CareerDiva is not a “career coach” site.

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