How To Choose A Job Search Coach

I didn’t think I had money for a job search coach.  I didn’t think I had money to have my resume done professionally, and that I could create a resume just as good as a professional resume writer.  We all know where that got me 🙂  Anyway…

In a two day job search seminar I went to I learned about job search coaches, and the importance of having one.  This is not a mentor, or a friend, or an adviser who you could lean on every once in a while.  A job search coach is someone who you have a formal arrangement with, and serves a critical role in your job search.

Your job search coach doesn’t have to be a professional job search coach, although many coaches would caution you away from using someone who is just a friend.  I’ll comment on that in a bit.  Let me share three things that I think a job search coach must have.

  1. Proper understanding of current job search principles. Let me illustrate this with an example.  If you asked me to be your job search coach 3 years ago, I would have had you spending a ton of time on job boards.  I had assumptions about how to conduct a successful job search, and they were all wrong.  I’m guessing that over 90% of professional job search coaches have current, proper job search principles (which help you create your strategy and tactics), and less than 20% of non-professionals will have the proper principles.
  2. The ability to hold you accountable. Being accountable in your job search is critical.  I found, as a job seeker, people treated me with kid gloves, and pretty much leave me alone.  I don’t remember anyone asking me “how’s it going” and really wanting to hear more than “good.”  A job search coach stops that, and makes sure you are doing the right things, doing what you said you would do, and getting results or changing strategies or tactics.  Your job search coach MUST dig down to find out what’s working, what’s not, and keep your performance on track.
  3. Tools. A professional job search coach will have tools.  They’ll know where to do company research, and have a bunch of resources to help you as you figure out this job search process (it’s more complex than I thought it was).  Any job search coach can find about 90% of the tools you’ll need in (which is my site).

Can you get this from a non-professional?  Many professional job search coaches I talk with don’t advocate this, but I think it’s an option… as long as you understand what the coach needs to have (the three points above).  I think the two hardest things to establish are the first points.

With regard to the principles, if you find someone who has been in a job search, and studied it out, and is using proper job search principles in their own job search, and has helped other new job seekers, I think they’d be just fine.  The fact that they are currently in the ditches with you is good, as they are super-current on techniques and tactics.  I would not look for a non-professional coach unless I know they have had recent/current experience in the job search.  Also, realize that the strategies for a guy making $50,000/year should be different than the strategies for a guy making $120,000/year.  There are many other factors that influence the strategies… so it’s not a one-size-fits-all thing.

With regard to accountability, you must establish this upfront.  Don’t assume a non-professional is going to jump right in and hold you accountable like she should.  Have a discussion about when you will meet, what you will discuss, what you will do and how they need to talk about follow-up action items with you.  Empower them to ask you hard questions.  Make sure they know they are not there to babysit you, that you are an adult, but you need to be held accountable.  And then, when you have sessions, be honest with your coach and with yourself.

Career Resumes does not provide job search coaching (they provide professional resume writing services as well as LinkedIn Profile makeover services).  I’ll blog about where to find job search coaches next week.


  1. Resume Writing Services on November 25, 2008 at 8:59 am

    Job searches in essence need to be aggressive yet patient at the same time. Focusing on the career and goals early on is a mandatory aspect to ensure that you do what you love and you love what you do. Just grabbing on to that first offer may not be the best choice. A coach maybe a great help for sure for people who are starting out. Specially for first-timers who are a bit green behind a ears.

  2. Resume Docket on November 26, 2008 at 6:27 am

    Student career counselors, friends and mentors can be easily found and I believe talking to everyone and will certainly help. Although in certain cases professional help can surely help.

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