10 Questions to Ask a Career Firm Reference

So you’ve made the right choice, and decided to employ a Transition Coach in your job search.  A Transition Coach can shave weeks or even months off of your job search.  But before you sign on the dotted line and fork over a month’s worth of cash, do your due diligence.  Unless you know people who have used this coach, or know the coach personally, demand some references to whom you can speak.  Do not settle for their written references.  Written references tell the story the company wants you to hear, rather than the story that you need to hear.  Make sure that you don’t just let the reference tell their short story and get off the hook.  Here are some good questions to ask references to a career firm.

1).  How long ago did you work with the firm?  Our firm makes changes almost monthly to revise our program to keep up with the rapidly changing career environment.  While you can get important information from someone who worked with the firm months or even years ago, their experience is not necessarily going to be equivalent to the experience of someone who is in the program now, or who has gone through it recently.  You should ask for at least one of the references to be a current client.

2).  How much time did the coach spend with you?  Time is of the essence!  The coach needs to spend extensive time with you for you to get any good out of the program.

3).  Did the person doing the sales have anything to do with the delivery of the program?  Both my wife and fellow career coach Nicole and I do both the selling and the delivery.  If I promise something in the “selling” phase, I have to deliver it or I look like an idiot.  But if sales is separate from delivery, the salesperson can promise anything to get you to sign up.

4).  Did they do what they promised to do?  Remember that words are cheap, but contracts are binding.  Virtually every contract (including ours, of course) has an “entire agreement” clause which states that the only things the firm is required to do are those things spelled out in the contract.  At the very least, a firm should do what they’ve promised to do in the contract.  But it is always nice when a firm “goes the extra mile” for their clients.

5).  Did they help you with networking?  In these difficult times, you need someone who will help you with networking.  While it is not any firm’s responsibility to introduce you to everyone you’ll network with, they should, at the very least, help you get in contact with some people who can help you in some way.  There are many ways to do this.  We use events, on-line groups, parties, classes and personal introductions with most of our people to help them get effectively networked.  Make sure that networking is stressed.

6).  Did they send out your résumé to everyone.  This is one where you want the answer to be “no!”  “Papering” your résumé is a good way to make you a pariah on the local market.  Your résumé should only go out to those people you’ve met and know, or to a company where you cannot apply any other way.  Click here to see why your résumé is mostly useless. (http://www.ceojobexpert.com/your-rsum-mostly-useless )

7).  Did they put up a website for you?  Again, the answer should be a resounding “no!”  A job-search website is an opportunity for employers to screen you out before even seeing you.  Concentrate on your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles and leave it at that.

8).  Did they help you with social media?  If the individual has used the firm in the last 6 months or so, they should have been helped with social media (or, at least, had that available to them).  The big three that help in a job search?  LinkedIn (still the champion), Facebook and Twitter.  Your coach should help you in using these, or refer you to someone who can.

9).  Were they nasty and vicious in interview training?  You want your coach to be very nasty un interview training….because it is better that your coach abuse you in an interview training session than having you fail an interview because you were unprepared.  Good transition coaches spend a great deal of time on networking and interview training, as these are the keystones of actually becoming employed.  Interview training must go beyond some classes and patting you on the head and telling you that you’re doing well.  The coach should ask some very hard questions and give you some very hard-hitting and specific advice.  General platitudes won’t help you get the job.

10).  Did you believe the coach really cared and had your best interests at heart?  In the end, the coaching relationship should be one of caring and dedication.  If the coach is “just doing a job,” the coach is not a good coach.  If the coach, however, shows true caring and interest in you as a person, your chances of getting helped in your search go up dramatically.  This is a difficult time.  If the coach you’re working with isn’t also a mentor, counselor, and friend, you aren’t going get through it as well as if the coach serves many roles with you.  To be sure, a good coach is not always, or even usually, “warm and fuzzy.”  We’re not psychologists!  But a good coach can put aside the drill sergeant when you need to talk and be comforted, as well as placing a foot on the seat of your pants when you’re stalled.

These are a few of the questions you should ask in a reference check on a coaching service.  I hope they help.  As always, feel free to call me at 720.581.4301 for further advice.

Do you want to get three weeks worth of executive only level networking done in three hours, with no vendors or sales?  Join John and up to 40 of your colleagues at Executives Only Structured Networking on Monday, November 8th, at the DAC.  Information and required registration are here. http://novembernetworking-ceojob.eventbrite.com

One Response to 10 Questions to Ask a Career Firm Reference
  1. ketamen
    December 14, 2010 | 11:17 pm

    ” Did you believe the coach really cared and had your best interests at heart? In the end, the coaching relationship should be one of caring and dedication. If the coach is “just doing a job,” the coach is not a good coach. If the coach, however, shows true caring and interest in you as a person, your chances of getting helped in your search go up dramatically. This is a difficult time. If the coach you’re working with isn’t also a mentor, counselor, and friend, you aren’t going get through it as well as if the coach serves many roles with you. To be sure, a good coach is not always, or even usually, “warm and fuzzy.” We’re not psychologists! But a good coach can put aside the drill sergeant when you need to talk and be comforted, as well as placing a foot on the seat of your pants when you’re stalled.”
    Intresting. I would like details!

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