Which Career Service is Right for You?

Frequently, when I meet people and introduce myself as a Career Coach, I am met with a number of misconceptions about what that role might be. Among the roles that people think I play are: 1- I give tests for aptitude or interests, 2- I write resumes, 3- I “get” people jobs, 4- I give them job leads. I would like to help define the role and to further describe the spectrum of services out there to aid people in all facets of their careers, career goals, and job search strategies.

These are trying times and it’s good to understand what services exist and how best to utilize them. Here are some things to know:

Career Coach/Counselor – A good career coach will be able to analyze the situation and goals the client has and be able to provide them with tools and processes for getting to their goals. A Career Coach will have the necessary skills to facilitate their client’s self-examination and discovery, which are necessary for clarifying career goals. A career coach may or may not give assessments. If they don’t give assessments and they feel one would be helpful, they can point the client to assessment resources. Think of it like going to your doctor. There may be some tests they run and others they will send you out to get. A Career Counselor is very similar to the Career Coach and in some situations is identical. Usually a counselor has training and certifications that qualify them to administer certain career assessments. The field of assessment is shifting and is no longer the sole domain of counselors, mostly because many assessments are readily available on the internet.
Pros:

  • Personalized service and attention – done in a one on one environment where all the work and focus is on the client and their specific needs.
  • The scope of the services is broad- covers all or most facets pertaining to the clients career concerns, as well as any other life issues going on with the client.
  • The process that a client will go through is comprehensive, organized and will keep the client accountable for moving forward and taking appropriate actions

Cons:

  • Cost – prices range from $75-$200 per session. May need to commit to a set number of sessions

Job Seeker Group – With the ongoing unemployment rise, a variety of job seeker-type groups have cropped up in almost all cities. Their names are different, but generally they are all free and open to the public. The topics covered are almost exclusively devoted to the job search area of careers. They are often facilitated by volunteers who may have some background related to those topics. There is frequently a networking component to the meetings, if not exclusively a networking event.

Pros:

  • Free service- may be a very good deal as some of the speakers really know their material
  • Very plentiful- numerous groups have been formed, so for larger cities people can generally find them in their neighborhoods.
  • Depending on how the group is formed and organized, it can be a good networking and “lead” sharing opportunity.

Cons:

  • There is no logical connection, plan or organization to the topics being presented. Most of the time the topics are based on who can present the topics and what the speaker wants to talk about.
  • The topics focus on job search, which means if a person wants to focus on other career topics, like career change or development, their needs won’t be covered.
  • Little or no individualized attention- the job seeker is left to pull all of the various elements together to form their own job search plan.
  • Some people report that many of these groups are depressing and unproductive, as desperate individuals frequently share stories about lengthy unemployment and hard times.

Job Clubs – A true job club (as opposed to a job seeker group given the name of “club”) is usually a group that is organized to last for a set number of weeks, has a beginning date and finish date, has closed attendance and has a weekly topic with interactive exercises. It is very much like a class where the topics each week all relate to each other and are in a logical order for learning. Many of these groups include lead sharing and promote mutual support. These groups usually have a fee for joining.

Pros:

  • A very affordable structure, less expensive than a coach/counselor, but with the benefits of a well thought out process.
  • Most of the job seekers tend to develop relationships with others as it creates an environment of support.
  • Provides a structure to keep the job seeker accountable for taking action.

Cons:

  • May be hard to find one- there aren’t that many formed, so availability is limited.
  • While affordable, there is still a cost.
  • Not individualized and usually doesn’t cover topics beyond job seeking.

Specialized Career Services – There is a number of people and businesses that specialize in specific facets of job search services. Historically we are most familiar with recruiters and headhunters, who are now specializing in niches like law, medicine and technology. In addition to that group of specialists are: resume’ writers, interview coaches, personal branding and job searchers. And the list goes on.

Pros:

  • For people with specialized careers, some of the niche specific services are great – they are well connected and know where the hidden jobs are.
  • The array of services available that specialize in a specific facet of the job search means the depth of knowledge is great for that one area.
  • While they all have a fee, many of them are very reasonable and the amount of time to complete or access the service is short.
  • The focus is on the client and what they need.

Cons:

  • There is a fee and some of the fees are in the same range as a career coach/counselor.
  • These services tend to cover job search only and not other career areas.
  • Since these are specialized services, they are not “holistic”, meaning that the entire process is not pulled together for the job seeker.

Summary

Most people haven’t had much experience working on the various phases of their career goals and job search strategies. Therefore, pursuing a service to fill in the gaps of their capabilities makes sense. Like everything else in life, you need to be a smart consumer and engage with the service that will really meet your needs.

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