The Oakland Tribune (CA) – Sunday, November 8, 2009
Author: Francine Brevetti, Oakland Tribune Correspondent
Jeremiah Anderson — like many people these days — was out of work.
He found help, direction and ultimately a job by consulting a coach, a profession that is currently getting a boost from the downturn in employment.
Anderson, of Castro Valley, had been out of work as an IT project manager since November 2007. After testing the waters in the real estate industry, he decided to return to IT project management in June 2008. But with the recession, he felt he needed help to stay ahead of the competition, he said.
Anderson enrolled in a workshop led by coaches Chani Pangali and Dan Rink, who consulted him on his résumé, guided him in preparing for interviews, and honed his job-hunting skills. Anderson credits the workshop and consultations in large part with finding him the job he ultimately landed in his field in November 2008.
Having nothing to do with athletics, coaching is a fairly new profession that gained ground in the 1990s.
According to Vikki Brock, a certified coach who has been researching the industry’s history and development, there are more than 275 coaching schools across the country today. In 1990, there were only three worldwide. The largest is the International Coach Federation, which has certified almost 4,000 professionals to date.
The issue of certification is a sensitive one. One can actually assert, “I’m a coach” and begin accepting clients without having certification. There is no statutory licensing process that qualifies one as a coach. Local coaching organizations say the ICF is beginning to set standards.
Further, there are many coaching specialties. Many work as adjuncts of corporate human resource departments training employees in leadership or performance excellence. Others are self-employed and may specialize in career change or in personal goals. Those so-called life coaches encourage change in all manner of human habits, including weight loss, quitting smoking and finding a mate.
Pangali, of Pleasanton, is not certified by the major coaching institutions. He already had a long successful history in academe, the IT industry and as an entrepreneur. He is also an executive of a professional association of trainers.
“My company provides training tools (to the public) previously available only inside organizations to employees to teach them how to improve their skills and their confidence,” Pangali said.
Pangali is constantly working to amplify his Web site, www.jobsuccess.org, which contains 670 training modules for job seekers. Most of them are free. Anderson remarked how valuable it is to access free training online at a time when the unemployed job seeker can rarely afford professional consultation.
Coaching can be expensive, ranging anywhere from $60 to $250 an hour, depending on the practitioner’s caliber and certifications.
Kirk Burgess, of Alameda, found he was stuck in his job a few years ago and consulted a career coach who “kicked my rear end to motivate me to look at other opportunities.”
A couple of years ago, he hired a life coach for his Oakland-based customer service company, CAS, where he was senior director of global service delivery. CAS was being absorbed by Rainmaker of Campbell. CAS had to let go of 50 employees, few of whom, Burgess felt, had the skills to distinguish themselves in their upcoming job searches.
Burgess asked life coach Thelma Austin to give his staff some training and direction for seeking new employment. Within two weeks, working both in groups and individually, Austin induced some considerable transformations, he said. Austin reports that 80 percent of the employees she worked with subsequently found jobs.
Often people feel held back from something they wanted to do, Austin observed. “How can I help you be where you are right now?” is her approach to clients. “If you could be anything you wanted, what would it be?”
Two international certifying organizations are based in the Bay Area — CTI in San Rafael and New Ventures West in San Francisco.
Leaders of both organizations agree on the importance of consumer education in finding a coach, since the field is still rapidly developing. They also endorse the efforts of the International Coach Federation to standardize practices.
Coaching is not therapy, observed Steve March, vice president of leadership training of an arm of New Ventures West. While therapy deals with the past and emphasizes healing, coaching stays in the present and strives to help the client become more effective, he said.
Mill Valley coach Brenda Scarborough has seen a change in public acceptance of this kind of help.
“Not so long ago there was a stigma associated with needing a coach,” Scarborough said. “But with the exploding of the industry that’s become totally different.”
How to Find a Coach
The Coaches Training Institute, www.thecoaches.com
The International Coach Directory, www.findacoach.com
International Coach Federation, www.CoachFederation.org
New Ventures West, www.newventureswest.com