Yes, you can read some career books, take a workshop or two, and network, but that won't make you competitive in today's market. Consider the possibility that maybe it's time to skip your usual frugality, and hire a career coach to teach you shortcuts and help you launch a smarter campaign. The time and effort you save will more than pay for itself, not to mention your bigger salary. Here is my Top Ten List on how to shop smart and find your perfect career coach:

1. Choosing a career coach is not like buying a vase.
For coaching decisions, you need live contact. Admire great websites and recognize that websites demonstrate writing, not coaching skills.

2. If career transition were a mass process, mass solutions would work.
Career transition is an individual journey. Beware of one-size-fits-all career programs and vehicles like group coaching. These may sound good and fit your budget but ultimately leave you frustrated. There's no substitute for the undivided time, attention, and results you get from having individual coaching sessions.

3. The difference between a good career coach and a great coach is about $100-$150 per month, a fraction of one monthly paycheck.
Unlike some professions, there's not that much price differential between coaches with a few years of experience and senior coaches. A seasoned career coach can save you months of fruitless wandering.

4. Look out for "fast" promises, when it comes to career coaching.
No career coach, regardless of seasoning, can predict just how long your individual career process will take. Coaches know you don't like this answer, but that's the truth. Timing considerations include how diligent you will be around fieldwork assignments, what careers you wind up exploring, and much more.

5. Take advantage of career coaches' free sample telecoaching sessions. Don't over-shop.
Decide how many coaches you want to talk to, and then pick your coach. Talking with too many coaches will confuse you, create inner commotion, and impede the process.

6. Career assessment tools only go so far, you still need good coaching.
Some career coaches administer (and charge for) lots of assessments, like Myers Briggs, etc. Some coaches use none, or one or two. Tip: Take assessments with a large grain of seasalt, since they're a mass tool. An assessment might suggest, for example, that you'd make a great airline pilot, not factoring in the unions, politics, and stress that are also part of that occupation.

7. Ask the coaches you interview about their own career transitions.
In case you go down some dark tunnels in your process, you want to be sure your coach can guide you to the flashlights.

8. Timing is everything.
Your career fuels your life. Waiting more than two weeks to choose a coach, once you've had some sample sessions, is probably procrastinating.

9. Bring your heart into the coach decision process.
If you're a thinker, someone who makes key decisions primarily through your mind, listen to your heart and body when you choose your coach. You'll only regret it if you don't.

10. You can't imagine the coaching relationship until you're in the coaching relationship.
Most people do career transition with large amounts of worry, suffering, and angst. Now you don't have to.

Beyond better career match-ups, the tech women I work with love the unexpected reward career coaching often brings, which is improvement in work/life balance. Having time for the things that matter is something many women in our industry have lost. When that comes forward, life becomes joyful and fun again.

Now, who wouldn't like more joy and fun?

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Miriam Reiss, President of Spirited Marketing™, is an expert career coach who specializes in helping you create work aligned with your values, needs, and spirit. Recognized as a Master Coach by the International Coach Federation, she is co-author of the book "Branding and Marketing Mastery." Miriam offers a free career values consultation to SelfGrowth members responding to this article. Contact Miriam at, 206-545-0809,