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Career Coach: Who to Hire, Who to Fire

The Suit

The Don Draper of career coaches, The Suit is an actual mid-career professional, not a semi-retired, "hyphenated" wannabe who coaches when he's not chasing the kids or teaching a spin class. Instead, The Suit has meaningful experience in your field. He knows -- and might even coach -- executives at companies where you'd like to work. And -- gasp! -- he even has an office.

Hire: The Suit can critique your resume, discuss the differences between McKinsey and BGC, and opine on the future of Investment Banking: all with intelligence and authority. If you ask him very nicely he may even pull a referral from his ample Rolodex.

Fire: The Suit is expensive; his hourly rate is akin to what you'd pay a good accountant or attorney. Plus, he often requires that you prepay for a "package" of sessions. Last-minute cancellations? You're gonna pay anyway; and fuggedabout evening or weekend meetings. Finally, you're not The Suit's most important client, so don't expect to be treated as such. Yes, he did just forget your name when he said "good-bye."

The Career Iconoclast's 5 Must-Ask Questions for Any Potential Career Coach:

1. What makes your approach more effective than other coaches?

2. How will you tailor your program to address my individual needs?

3. What specific experience prepares you to provide perspective to my career?

4. Describe a client success story. (Then, ask for that client's contact information! If he winces, you'll know that he just invented or amplified the anecdote.)

5. How will I know when I no longer need your services?

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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