Question: I read many of your reflections through the RochesterWorks LinkedIn group. Thanks for the wisdom and perspective that is very helpful.

My question is this: what training, experience, and education do you believe is required to land a job at an organization like RochesterWorks so as to provide career counseling and coaching?

I am currently in a director position at a Rochester-area organization and doing work that I believe is transitional in nature.

My greatest desire, passion and knack (in many ways) is career/life coaching and counseling, much of what I have done for more than 10 years because people seek me out for such listening, advice, and guidance but have not really had a position, training, education (or certification) along those lines. Thoughts?

Answer: This is a question that I often receive from people who are looking to transition into the coaching role.

As of today, there is not a recognized not-for-profit organization that is responsible for defining, regulating and maintaining the standards and credentials for the coaching profession.

Consequently, the cost for entry into this profession can be very inexpensive, though often at a price to the people who work with newly minted coaches.

My recommendation to anyone who does not have formal degree or on the job training in psychology, human resources, social work, sociology or other related disciplines to seek out a solid training program before offering their services.

It is clearly a good sign that people see you as approachable and that is an important quality. Just being a great manager or the go to person is not enough.

As a manager, you have your own experiences to draw upon and that represents only a small slice of the situations that people face. People come to you because you have a relationship with them or they know they can talk to you.

What about the person who is afraid or doesn’t know you? Think about why they should seek you out – is there enough of a compelling story? Do you know if you can handle different personalities – even people you may not like?

Do you know what to do when someone confides in you and the problem is out of your realm of experience or capability? Are you able to step away and get them the help they need instead of letting your ego get in the way?

It is often easy to give advice because we talk from our own perspective. Coaching is about helping others to find the path on their own, perhaps with some guidance and without imposing your strong opinion.

When you go through a training program for coaching, you will learn about process, behaviors and technique. Most managers do not have this kind of extensive tool kit.

You will also learn about yourself. If not, leave. You cannot help others until you know what your own biases are and how to manage them.

There are a number of training programs out there. Do the research on them because their approaches may be very different and you want your style to develop naturally within the context of the training.

Good luck!