For Magdalena Mook, the CEO and executive director of the ICF, an increase in spending on career coaches -- despite tough economic times -- makes sense. "When more has to be done with less, people are seeing that coaching is a way to truly take advantage of their potential," she says. And as proof she points to a 2009 study conducted by the ICF in conjunction with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP which found that 99 percent of professionals who had used a career coach emerged either somewhat or very satisfied from the experience. (The study polled 2,200 clients of career coaches.)But given that coaches charge from $100 an hour to several thousand dollars for a consultation, when is it worth doing? And how do you find a good one?
"The process is relevant for everyone," says Next Step Partners' Melcher. "Assessing what are your past competencies to what you want to accomplish, making the right connections, finding out what's the right match, seeking professional fulfillment -- who does this not apply for?" Coaches see their work as a second resort. "It's a process that makes sense when what you're doing isn't working," says Miriam Salpeter, a job search consultant since 1996, and owner of Keppie Careers, who blogs for AOL Jobs. Seek out a career coach, she says, "when you know financially you don't have time for the trial and error. Every day of not being employed has a cost." What can you expect from a coach? Longtime job seekers stress that a career coach cannot change certain fundamentals of a bruising labor market. "People whose job searches have already been lengthy will get their hopes up too high if they utilize a career coach," warns Fran Hopkins, an AOL Jobs contributor who spent 34 months trying to find a full-time job. "If you're a baby boomer, all the resume tips and interviewing practice in the world can't change the fact that you were born between 1946 and 1964." But according to advocates of career coaching, like Hausman, coaches can help guide clients to their niche in the workforce. The coach "kept telling me I needed to run my own show," Hausman says. Now her firm has its own office space in Manhattan, two employees, and revenue growth of 30 percent since last year. Her client list includes the architects working on the new pedestal at the Statue of Liberty, the towers above Carnegie Hall and artists working on public installations at New York City sites like Roosevelt Island. Working with a jobs coach played a "vital part" in her "transformation," says Hausman, helping her to realize her own strengths. More From AOL Jobs From Scandal To Bigger Better Careers Susan Burton's Amazing Second Act: Despair and Drugs To A Heroic Crusade Health Care Jobs In Highest Demand In 2013