Do You Need a Job Search Coach?


A job search coach can provide a unique perspective of your talents and abilities.

I once was told that professional golfer Jack Nicklaus had his own golf coach - because the coach could do the one thing that Jack could not: watch Jack.

The value of having a seasoned set of eyes looking at what you’re doing cannot be overstated. This is especially true when your job search requires different skills: resume writing, web searching, personal networking and interviewing. 

But,” you might say, “I can’t afford a coach!” To that I would counter, "You cannot afford to be without a coach!"  The good news is, not all coaches charge fees; you can hire a coach for free.

Paid coaches are usually more qualified and should be more committed to your success, as well as available to your needs - because you’re paying them.

On the other hand, coaches whose services are free can be extraordinarily helpful and knowledgeable. Since they’re not making money, however, you may find a limit to their availability. Still, a good, free job search coach is better than no coach. You can often find coaches through career groups that are sponsored by associations, libraries, schools and churches.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself

Before you look for a coach--whether for free or for a fee--ask yourself these 5 questions:

  • What kind of help do I need? Writing resumes, networking, interviewing, negotiating, or all of the above? To get a better understanding of your needs, consider downloading and completing a career exploration questionnaire. 
  • What should I expect from a coach? The primary expectation is quality counsel based on understanding your situation, goals, and needs, as well as the coach's expertise and experience. Other expectations include confidentiality, encouragement, accountability and contacts.
  • How do I find a coach? The best way is to network. Ask friends and acquaintances who have made good progress in their job searches. Also, ask professionals in human resources and recruiting, or in industries and occupations you’re searching. 
  • How do I select the best coach for me? Evaluate potential coaches based on the specific help you need. Review their backgrounds and interview them about their experience and expertise. If you’re considering a paid coach, ask for certifications, services, fees and references in writing.
  • How do I maximize value from my coach? Be clear about what your coach will and will not do for you. For example, will they coach you on writing resumes, or will they actually write them for you? Be sure to ask questions and try what they recommend. If you begin to lose confidence in their coaching, say so, or stop working with the coach.

By now, you’re probably feeling that trust in the coach’s character and competence is the most important element in working with a coach, whether paid or not. And you’re right. Imagine Jack Nicklaus on the 18th green in the final round of The Masters, wondering whether or not his coach gave him good advice. You need to trust that you’ve found the right coach for you, too!

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