Want to help others find a job? Learn how to use your business or human resources background to become a career coach in this interview with Mary Beth Barrett-Newman, President of 2nd Career Consulting.
What was your motivation to become a career consultant?
I spent 30 years in the financial services industry, with my last position as a partner and Chief Sales Officer of a boutique consulting firm which we sold to a major insurance company in fall, 2008. With the economy starting its decline, I wanted to find a position that allowed me to do the things I loved, was good at and felt passionate about. After “exploring” for a number of months, being a career consultant embodied my passion for helping people along with expertise gained during my career of coaching, training and mentoring.
What background or education is required to get started in this field?
Career consultants tend to have a variety of backgrounds. While many come from some area of human resources, others come from other disciplines, but have extensive backgrounds in hiring, recruiting, interviewing, training, etc. Many have certifications as a career coach, through various coaching institutes as well as certifications in assessment tools they use such as Myers-Briggs, Strong, Kolbe, DISC, etc.
Where did you find your first clients?
Networking. My very first client was my yoga instructor. She has just finished her BA and was looking to get into the development field. We bartered coaching sessions for yoga lessons. She in turn referred me to my first paying client. I joined the local Chamber, researched local networking groups and asked every entrepreneur I knew about the networking groups they belonged to. In addition, I developed an elevator pitch I could use socially (as well as professionally) and made sure I ALWAYS carried business cards. By doing this, interactions at social events such as weddings, block parties and dinners with friends have led to new clients.
How much can a career coach expect to earn? When and how are payments collected?
The range that career consultants can earn varies widely based upon the types of clientele (6-7 figure C-suite vs. Stay-at-Home moms returning to work). Many charge by the hour with rates from $100-$300/hour and/or have packages (typically costing $500-$2500) that include a certain number of sessions and deliverables, such as resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, etc.
Personally I bill hourly for my time and invoice clients at the end of each month. I accept checks and electronic payments such as Chase QuickPay. Some consultants may require payment in advance or expect payment at the time of meetings and will take other forms of payment such as credit cards and PayPal.
What tips do you have for those hoping to get started in the industry?
For anyone desiring to get into the industry, I’d suggest they do a fair amount of research by talking to others in the industry, put together a business plan, do market research – will people pay for this service, and decide whether they would be best creating their own business or joining an existing business. Also find a market niche that will help differentiate you from others who are generalists. My initial niche was Stay-at-Home-Moms returning to the workforce. As a result of this niche, I was quoted in the local press numerous times and able to speak at various events focused on this group. While this is a group I still focus on, my business has expanded from the referrals I received.
Any must-have business tools you recommend?
Beyond making sure you have a strong LinkedIn profile and a website, there aren’t any specific tools I’d recommend. Certainly being competent in Microsoft Office – Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint will be important. On top of having a profile, being a strong LinkedIn user and knowledgeable of social media such as Twitter will also be beneficial.