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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Get personalized career counselling with a coach

Ellen Goldhar Just about every professional athlete has one, but you no longer need to be an athlete to need one. Many corporations today are paying to retain one for their executive staff...can you guess what it is?

It's a coach.

Professional coaching is one of the fastest growing professions in North America that has gained much recognition over the last five years.

Sheri Ellis sought the help of a coach when her frustration at work reached a level she could no longer ignore. "I had been working for the past two and a half years at Kraft Canada as a human resources manager. I was stressed, dissatisfied with my job and just not enjoying it. But what to do next wasn't a clear black and white issue," Ellis says.

"My coach helped me identify possible career moves, helped me set goals, track and acknowledge my progress and kept me focused," says Ellis, 40. One of the big benefits of a coach is the personalized support.

"Making a career change can be scary, but the support of your coach makes it less scary. Also, because you're so close to your own issues, it can be difficult to see yourself objectively and ask the necessary questions -- you need someone else for that," Ellis says.
"My coach helped me identify possible career moves and kept me focused," says Sheri Ellis, former HR manager at Kraft Canada who is inspired to become a coach herself.

Inspired by the results from the coaching process, Ellis has since left Kraft and is working part-time while she attends the Adler's coaching certification program to be a coach herself.

"It's becoming imperative to develop ourselves, otherwise you can have a hard time keeping up in life with all the demands, choices and possibilities," says Melinda Sinclair, a professional coach and faculty member at the Adler School of Professional Coaching.

"Coaching is for people who are interested in enhancing their performance and moving to a higher level of excellence, personally or professionally," Sinclair says.

According to a survey done by the Adler School of Professional Coaching, clients benefit from coaching in the following ways:

  • Self-awareness
  • Setting better goals
  • Achieving a more balanced life
  • Lowering stress
  • Self-discovery
  • Improved self-confidence
  • Higher quality of life
  • Better communication skills
  • Improved project completion

    A coach may play the role of evoker, guide, facilitator, sounding board, thinking partner, or provide encouragement and support. However, there are a few things a coach is not -- they're not a therapist, a crutch, a task master, or your best friend.

    Also, coaching is an unregulated profession, which means anyone is free to hang out their shingle in front of their house and call him/herself a coach. Make sure when you hire a coach, you ask them about their qualifications (they should have some form of training).

    Furthermore, their approach, philosophies and intentions should match yours -- trust your intuition. Some coaches will even give sample sessions, so ask.

    "I wouldn't want to use a coach that didn't use a coach themselves," says Peter Johnson, a career and executive coach, as well as a coaching client. Johnson has been utilizing the services of a coach for years, and believes everybody can benefit from using one.

    "Generally, the people who seem to benefit from coaching have an inner level of self-confidence and self-assurance, and a knowing that they can be better and achieve things beyond what they are currently experiencing. They are people who don't accept mediocrity," Johnson says.

    Coaching is a tool that can help a person with major shifts or minor tweaks. Whatever the event, says Johnson, "When we can achieve alignment and resonance between who we are and our careers, work becomes effortless and life fantastic. A coach can help with that."

    For more information on coaching, or to find a coach, check out:


    (Ellen Goldhar is manager, people development at Sun Media Corporation, Canada's second largest newspaper publishing company. Send questions and comments to

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