Great Resumes Fast » Career » Hiring A Career Expert? Key Considerations Before Writing The Check

This article is courtesy of Tim Tyrell-Smith, Founder at Tim’s Strategy – Ideas for Job Search, Career and Life ( ).

Thinking about hiring a career coach?  A resume expert?  There are a lot of choices out there, so how do you decide?

During the pre-recession housing boom, everyone wanted to be a real estate agent.  Or a mortgage broker.  There was a lot of activity in the housing market and, often, a lot of money to be made.

A lot of well-meaning people were quickly certified or trained to work in these jobs.  They came out of the woodwork.  And that’s a natural thing to happen as industry growth shifts with the economy.

Similar to the housing market shift, the recession has created new market opportunities.  A significant crowd of smart people were laid off or otherwise removed from their roles.  And over the past few years have been working to find new roles with new companies.  So this crowd has needs.  Many have never been out of work before.  Have never needed a resume.  Have no network on which to ask for help.

So, as you might expect, there are a lot of new voices out there.  Including mine.  I also imagine that the associations who train and certify career coaches and resume experts continue to get significant new applicants.  Makes sense.  So you might be asking . . .

How do you determine whether the investment in a career coach or resume expert makes sense?

To answer this, you really have to do some thinking on your end.  What is the problem you are really looking to solve?

Some examples of common problems I hear from job seekers I talk to each week include:

  • I’m getting no response to my resume (no calls, no emails)
  • I must be interviewing poorly because I never get to the second round (and rarely hear why)
  • I don’t have a strong network (worried that I’m not hearing about new jobs)
  • I’m not confident in my marketing materials or my marketing pitch (elevator pitch)
  • I feel inefficient (wasting time doing things the old way and not social media savvy)

And all of these issues can be addressed effectively with the help of a career expert.  But if you don’t identify your real issues, you can spend a lot of money getting help that you don’t need.  And still have the real issue weighing you down.

Because your issue with not getting a response to your resume may be related to your resume.  But it also may be related to the jobs you are targeting.  For example, if you are trying to change industries right now.  Tough time to do that.  Or if you are unqualified for a job.  But apply anyway.

You can also look for signs.  Signs that your job search is on the right track.  Because when you do that you’ll begin to measure your success.  And learn over time where your strategy is broken.  And when it is really more of an execution issue.

But when you figure out your issue.  And realize that it can be solved with professional help.  The decision to spend some money feels good.  And it can be a huge confidence booster.

In my 2007 job search, I didn’t need resume or interview strategy support.  Not my issues.  But I still hired two fantastic coaches.  I hired them for two very specific purposes.

The first I hired to help me think about longer term career focus and strategy issues (job search is also a great time to rebuild your longer term goals).  The second I hired because they were incredibly well connected in my target geography.  In my eyes, this was a very smart spend.  Tactical and powerful.  She opened doors and phone lines for me with powerful people.

So you can use a career coach or resume expert for big strategic issues or smaller, more tactical ones.  You can also just admit that you are lost and find someone who can build you a comprehensive job search plan.  And be there with you every step of the way.

Some other considerations:

  1. What is your financial situation? If you have the cash and believe that you have a significant issue, then I firmly believe you spend the money early vs. languishing with the problem for weeks and months.  Because then you begin to lose momentum and confidence.  Many hesitate here.
  2. Are you self-accountable? If you are not in an accountability group (a group that meets weekly to keep each other stay on track with objectives), a career coach can be that person to keep you focused.  And hit you with the 2×4 when you need to wake up and smell the Starbucks.
  3. Are you knowledgeable? Brand new to your search?  First time searching in 10+ years?  A veteran of search but struggling in this more competitive economy?  Your knowledge base is an important consideration in deciding how to use a career expert.
  4. What job search stage are you in? Just laid off?  Out over a year?  You may need to find a career coach who specializes in helping job seekers at various stages.  And you may look to structure a relationship that adjusts over time.  In terms of the way you pay your coach.  And the amount of their time that you receive.
  5. How are you with taking direction? Some aren’t good receiving advice and tend to be pretty independent.  And while this can be a detriment, you have to know yourself.  And work with a career expert who is a good fit.  Personality wise.

So if you’ve identified your issue (or set of issues) and know your situation, I highly recommend getting in touch with 2-3 career experts.  Set up a 30 minute first discussion (should be free) so that you can explain your issue.  Ask them for examples of people they’ve worked with who have similar issues.  Ask about their process.  And ask how they are compensated (hourly, weekly or project based).  You can also ask them for referrals.  People you can call to see if former clients left happy, satisfied, and with new jobs.

I’d also like to remind you about my career expert directory.  It is a growing list that includes experts in the US, Europe and Canada.  A searchable database of coaches, resume writers, career bloggers, authors, radio show hosts who can be a resource for you during your search.  And everyone who gets on the list is pre-screened and approved by me.  You can search for a local resource or look for the best resource in a particular field and work with them virtually (by phone or email).  Very common these days.


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About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!

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