The Pros of Professional Job Coaches

Female coach blowing whistle, hands on hips, mid section
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When it comes to sports, or piano lessons, we all seem to understand the value of a coach or experienced teacher. But when it comes to job hunting, many of us suddenly feel we can go it alone and land a job efficiently all by ourselves. Some people go so far as to turn down outplacement services, somehow thinking it's the ethical high ground to not take another thing from the evil employer. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Efficient job hunting means using the resources available to you and choosing the best ones to match your needs. Consider these four different types of job coaches:
1. Outplacement coaches
2. Personal mentors
3. State paid coaches
4. Personal paid coaches

Of all four, only the last one costs you money out of pocket. Since money is usually a key issue when unemployed, it is wise to be cautious with these types of coaches. There are some very expensive services out there and utmost care should be taken when considering them. It's where scam artists are most likely to be found.

State paid coaches are generally affiliated with the state unemployment office, but some are also affiliated with grant programs at community colleges or career centers. They have limited capabilities and generally teach standardized curriculum to the lowest common denominator - people with the fewest skills and least formal education. Although there are exceptions, my experience has shown some, but limited value in state-supported guidance services.

Personal mentors are invaluable, but similar to baseball coaches who specialize in particular aspects of the game – from batting to pitching – mentors may have a limited perspective. If you can avail yourself of several mentors, do so. For instance, one may help you better understand an industry; one may be a strong writer who can assist you with a resume, and another may have a strong understanding of an area's key opportunities outside of your home geographic market. Accept all of the mentoring help you are offered, as mentors have little skin in the game other than a genuine desire to share their expertise and "pay it forward."

> How to make strangers into mentors

At the top of the ladder are outplacement coaches. They are paid for by the ex-employer as part of the separation agreement. They tend to be trained professionals who know the rules of the game and have access to a wide variety of software services that many individuals could not afford on their own. Since the service is free, it's silly not to use it when offered. Turning down coaching assistance is akin to turning down a 401(k) match when employed, which unfortunately many people actually do. Free money should always be taken when no strings are attached.

A few people, when laid off, decide they want to go the entrepreneurial route and scoff at outplacement services as only for those looking for new employee roles. This is a myth. One of the first questions outplacement services generally ask is: "What do you want to do next?" If the answer is: "Start my own business," they assign an entrepreneurial coach to your team. Since starting a successful business is not easy, this type of coaching is well worth considering.

Coaches are best used by those most likely to succeed. Consider sports. Coaches only take on the most talented athletes. They don't waste their time with recreational players. Similarly, serious elite athletes who have the most discipline in training are also the most likely to avail themselves of coaches to achieve maximum results. The analogy is true for job seekers as well. If you seriously want a job, a serious coach might be just the ticket for shortening your time on the unemployment roll and crossing the "new hire" goal line.

> How one sports coach motivates underdogs to be champions.

The word "COACH" is very apt for job seeker support services. Consider the various roles coaches play in helping job seekers. They:

Cheer on and

Their M.O. is to help clients plan and execute a strategic and focused job search. They make their living by proving they can shorten a job search. Part of that includes cheering you on and suggesting ways to create systems for successfully networking, targeting industries, contacting influential managers, and getting you organized for effective job hunting.

It's a myth that coaches are for those unable to make it on their own. Ironically, the most highly compensated are also those most likely to be offered and use coaches. Just as wealthy people tend to hire the best lawyers and doctors, highly paid executives make sure to put all pros on their side when looking for their next job opportunity. The stakes are high and they want all the assistance they can get.

Not sure if you need help? It's the rare person who doesn't need help. When considering a coach, don't get huffy and shoot yourself in the foot. Instead, think like a rich person and get yourself the best coaches someone else's money can buy.
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