Is hiring a career coach worth the cost?

Sunday, October 12th, 2008 - Uncategorized

Deborah asks: I’m trying to determine what additional assistance a certified career coach provides that one cannot get from going to networking events and taking professional development courses?

In answer:
Possibly, depending on your circumstances. It depends on you, your situation and your views of where you are compared to the market reality.

As a recruiter, as an average of ten candidates we get in front us:
– three know what they want to do, have thought through why they want to do that/recognise their owns skills/limitations (a majority have a career plan), and are realistic in their expectations. We could stick them in front of an employer tomorrow, and they would walk out with a job offer
– three have not got a clue what they want to do, just that they want another job. They don’t recognise their skills or motivations, long term goals or aspirations. If we stuck almost any job in front of them, they would want an interview for it – it wouldn’t matter if they had the skills, they just want a job. If we stuck them in front of an employer, they would be rejected (and our reputation tarnished), and if they got a job with one of our clients would be out of the job in less than six months (also tarnishing our reputation). They need career counselling of some sort
– there are then four in the middle who could go either way, of which half will pull round within an initial one hour conversation/a days reflection to the first group, and then be clear on their path. They may not get the first job they are interviewed for, but they listen/learn and adapt very quickly

The above assumes you have chosen to seek a new opportunity/are currently unemployed, and clearly at present you are employed Deborah. But I don’t know which group of the above three you sit it, and you could also want to switch careers which creates new problems. I hence think that the options you have suggested as possible alternates are not: they are possible tactics inside a career strategy and resultant plan, which is what you need at present

As a first step, taking three sheets of paper, I would:
– write down a basic career history
– write down your life ambitions
– write down your resultant career aspirations

Then, take that to three good friends and see what they think (not your boss unless you really 110% trust them – its a bit like saying “I’m moving on” to them). Reflect on that feedback, may be rewriting/adjusting the second two pieces of paper, and see how they then feel.

If you then want to explore the possibility to move job/careers, approach a well known recruiter in the sector you seek for a career planning conversation: you are not looking for a new job, you are just thinking at present. If they think you need some help, they will tell you – and possibly introduce you to a career coach. Recruiters are driven by successfully placed candidates, and if they think they can place you quickly then they will tell you and start offering interviews; if they don’t, most will give honest feedback on your skills/the market and the realistic gap between the two.

My view is, if you approach a career coach, of course they will tell you that you need career coaching. But the output of any need for a period of reflection, thinking and possible resultant change – think of a career coach as a tool/procedure to meet an ends: a better life – is that you may possibly already have the answers, and the way you think and approach problems it may well be that introducing a third party may not presently be the best answer.

If you do decide to engage a career coach, ensure that they are certified – one NLP certificate does not make a career coach. I would also suggest you approach at least three, and find a social/professional fit you are comfortable with – you are the customer after all, and it will be an intimate process. It may also help if you find one who has been through the same opportunity in which you find yourself, and possibly one who has worked in the same industry/market – that insiders view all helps.

Good Luck!

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