From Careers and Job Search---Should I Get Help, by Estelle Rauch and Paul Kende
Learn how you can calculate your specific job search coaching value proposition.
How can you make the “right” decision about using professional assistance to enhance and accelerate your career change or job search? This article defines the main questions you need to ask yourself, and provides clear criteria for assessing your needs. To further support your decision-making, the article offers a simple cost-benefits analysis for using a career coach to increase both the probability and the speed of a successful job search. Since this step may influence your direction and career goals, as well as the “landing time” to reach your next job, it is clearly an important decision with both short and long-term impacts on your life.
If you are in transition to a new career or job, for whatever reason, you may have asked yourself “Can I do this on my own, or might I benefit from the advice and guidance of a professional career coach and resume writer?” Even knowing the job search is difficult in today’s economic environment, our sense of independence, self-confidence and the desire to conserve cash all urge us to do this on our own. But for a more reliable answer to this question, set aside your gut reaction and consider the key factors below with tough, business-like objectivity and decide how they apply to you and your situation.
Are you equipped for this potentially difficult battle with:
- Clearly defined career goals and objectives?
- Significant experience in successfully transitioning to new careers or jobs?
- Good networking skills and contacts in the field of your interest?
- The skills to promote yourself, conveying your accomplishments effectively, without boasting?
- An understanding of the recruiting process and the opportunities in your field of interest?
- Strong resume writing skills? Clear, concise, and persuasive verbal communication skills?
- Several job leads/opportunities that meet your career goals and needs?
- A resume that has generated several job interviews in your current situation?
- Interviews that have generated at least one job offer?
- Family, financial, and geographic flexibility without limitations on your career or job selection?
If you can answer 8 or more of these questions with a firm “yes”, you probably have the resources and skills to drive your job search without external help. But if you answered “no” to 4 or more questions, you are lacking some key attributes or resources for an effective job campaign in today’s unforgiving and competitive job market, and should consider some professional assistance.
This is not to say you cannot be successful on your own, with a great deal of perseverance and some luck. However, a capable career coach can dramatically improve the odds of success and greatly accelerate your transition to a new career or job by:
- Helping you think through your situation and options in a caring but very objective way.
- Guiding you to develop a personal career and marketing strategy and an action plan.
- Helping you to fill in some of the gaps in your “arsenal”.
- Coaching you to present yourself in the best possible and most competitive position, armed with a powerful resume and well-prepared for job interviews and negotiating job offers.
- Helping you achieve your defined goals based on a well-thought through strategic plan.
If you decide that external help would be appropriate, then you still need to ask one more basic question; “Are the benefits of professional assistance worth the cost?” To answer this, first recognize that using a career coach can often be the key to defining your career goals and strategy and getting the right job. The value of this to a job seeker is incalculable, because it tends to enhance initial salary, ultimate job satisfaction, promotability, and long term career success. However, beyond this great but qualitative benefit, consider the following more quantitative analysis.
Statistical evidence summarized from several sources* indicate that
1) Almost 33% of the unemployed are now out of work for 27 weeks or more – a higher level than in any recession since 1950.
2) The average unemployment duration is now about 6 months, with a range of 1-12 months, twice what it was a year ago.
3) Higher salary levels and older age statistically increase “landing time” to reemployment.
Anecdotal evidence from numerous articles and presentations suggest that a good strategy, a powerful resume, and solid interview preparation – benefits that can come from the assistance of a career coach – can accelerate the job search and significantly reduce your personal “landing time”. For the purpose of a simple and very conservative cost-benefits analysis, assume that the result of career coaching is finding the right job just one month sooner than you would without coaching. If, for a coaching cost of $1,000 (for a strong resume and 5-6 hours of consulting), you find a suitable $60,000/yr job just one month sooner, you get a $5,000 return on a $1,000 expense – which is far better than any conventional investment performance! And at a higher salary and/or shorter landing time in the job search, the return on your investment is even better!
After considering the key criteria discussed, if it is clear that you do need professional help, do your own cost-benefits analysis to see that the investment in your career, to accelerate your job search, is truly cost effective. As the saying goes, the view is worth the climb!
* References: ◦Bureau of Labor Statistics; Household Data, Table A9, September, 2009 ◦Wall Street Journal; Conor Dougherty, The Long Slog: Out of Work, Out of Hope, September 25, 2009 ◦National Public Radio; Planet Money, August 7, 2009 Impaxis – Job Search Duration, May, 2009 ◦Dirk Van Dijk; Daily Markets: US Unemployment Duration Stays Up, June 6, 2009
Estelle Rauch and Paul Kende, authors of Careers and Job Search---Should I Get Help, are experts in helping people change careers and conduct their job search campaigns effectively.