5 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Job Search Coach

Posted by Nancy Gober

Don't Make These 5 Mistakes When Hiring a Job Search CoachThinking of hiring a Job Search Coach? It can be a good move. A good job search coach can save you a lot of time and angst, and assist you in finding a better job faster.

While there is no magic pill that can get the job done in a nano-second – as some job seekers I’ve met would like – there definitely are advantages to seeking the help of someone who knows more than you do about finding a job today.

A good job search coach can:

  • Instruct you in the right moves to make and in what order.
  • Update you on what’s current in job seeking techniques, especially if it’s been a while since your last job search.
  • Help you figure out and interpret what things mean.
  • Just as importantly, advise you on what actions NOT to take.

A great job search coach will do even more. He or she will:

  • Go above and beyond the immediate task of job finding and help you get a view of the task from the 20,000-foot strategic level, and help you plan your job search strategy, and then
  • Get down in the weeds and identify, assess, and assign tactical moves you should make to implement your job search.

So, hiring a coach can be one of the best investments you can make in your career whether you:

  • Need a job
  • Are employed but thinking about making a transition
  • Want to move laterally or vertically in your current organization
  • Need a tune-up to tune into or up your interpersonal skills, career strategy, or some quality that is derailing your career.

You may be saying to yourself that you never worked with a coach, or had a less than successful experience with one, or “It’s not rocket science – I can figure this out on my own.” So if you’d prefer to go it alone that’s OK. However, if you are beginning to think that hiring a job search coach is in your best interest, read on.

Don’t Make These Mistakes

A Job Search Coach (JSC) who isn’t right for you can cost you time, opportunities, and dollar$. It’s critical to find the right coach for you to avoid these costs. To do that avoid making these six mistakes when hiring your own JSC.

Mistake # 1: A Magic Pill

That elusive magic pill. That cure-all that if you could only find it would make everything so much easier! Well, there isn’t one for:

  • Losing weight
  • Getting out of debt
  • Getting rich using this simple technique
  • Earning your degree in a nanosecond, or,
  • Finding a job!

There are no magic pills to accomplish these tasks. None are easy. Each takes commitment, some knowledge building, and a willingness to put in the time and do the work.

Be wise and beware: If the solution sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

I continue to hear promotions for “jobs in 30 days,” or “30+ job offers in 2 weeks,” yada yada yada! And I often hear the flip side of “Former executive out of work for 3 years, living in their car, destitute” or “Submitted 1,000 applications and never got one call back.” When I hear either of these extremes of the job seeking spectrum, they don’t ring true

Trust me, after years of working with thousands of job seekers, the truth is this: If you want a job, you’ve got to do the work! And, hiring a JSC is no magic pill to cure your job seeking ills. Don’t have such expectations, nor hire a coach who leads you to believe that the task ahead of you is easy or quick. Sure luck plays a part, and a job seeker can find an opportunity sooner rather than later. But, for most, finding a job is a process that takes some time and involves:

  • Planning a strategy
  • Learning about, developing, and learning to use their marketing tools
  • Proactive networking, leading to pro-active interviewing
  • Negotiating offer’S’
  • Planning for continued career growth

Advice: So, if a prospective coach tries to offer you a magic pill, run – don’t walk – the other way! Run toward a coach who initially paints a realistic picture of the path ahead and work involved in finding a job in today’s tough marketplace.

Mistake # 2: You’re Mismatched

It has to feel like a good fit – pretty much from the get-go. It’s not a marriage, but it should have some of the same aspects of a good partnership. And, you sometimes will feel that it’s a good fit before you can actually put into words what makes it so.

So, look for a coach with whom you feel comfortable. This should begin from your first interaction. Certainly, relationships in all aspects of life develop and grow, and the relationship between you and your JSC is no exception. However, most of my clients tell me that they felt “comfortable” from our first contact, initial meeting, or initial phone call and felt, or even said that “they wanted to work with me.” If you feel uncomfortable, beware and explore further before you commit.

Often, those in career transition will reach out to their network for a referral to a JSC. However, just because a JSC and your network contact were a good fit doesn’t necessarily mean you will be. It’s like getting a referral from a friend who raves about their doctor or hairdresser, etc. You meet the doctor or lawyer and it doesn’t work for you. Referrals are a good way to find a JSC, but just keep in mind that personalities and work styles don’t always mesh.

Advice: You have to feel a comfort factor, that also leads to confidence and trust in your coach. I’m not talking about those feelings you get from time to time of being annoyed at your coach for pushing you to complete tasks, attend networking meetings — in other words to make progress. That’s your JSC’s job and they are pushing you toward things that are good for you and will get you where you want to go. No, I’m talking about a nagging feeling you may have that this may not be a good partnership for getting you where you want to go. If it’s there, beware and keep searching.

Mistake # 3: No Accountability

Good job search coaches hold their clients accountable. There are tasks to be done for planning, preparing, and implementing your job search. An experienced and effective JSC is going to lay this process out for a client in the initial exploratory conversation. Most coaches offer an initial exploratory meeting in which they learn about you, your situation, and goal. They provide an explanation of what’s involved in the process of finding a job and working with them. Use this time to ask questions, and evaluate if you feel both (1) comfortable with the coach and (2) the process you’ll be embarking upon.

Listen for To Do’s that the JSC will require of you

A JSC is more than a resume writer. In fact a JSC should teach you how to produce an accomplishments-based resume, so you can adapt it to be responsive to any and all opportunities you uncover. A JSC works with you on development and use of your networking and marketing plans, identification of professional associations and networking opportunities, and development of your plan to target employers. With these To Do’s, you will feel a sense of progress.

Advice: Job search is a process. A job seeker has to follow the process. A good job search coach is going to make sure you do. They will hold you accountable for what you do and what you fail to do, and they’ll not be shy in telling you about it. If the coach you are considering hiring doesn’t acquaint you with their process for finding a job today, nor discuss the steps required, buyer beware!

Mistake # 4: A Lack of Dot-Connectivity or Vision

Sounds technical right? Like something Apple or Microsoft would come up with? Actually, it’s just my way of saying a great JSC will help you connect the dots and see the big picture by asking questions, gathering information and providing feedback.

Their role is to see what you don’t see, because they know their field and can see what’s coming down the pike. Drawing upon their knowledge of the job search process and challenges, the job seeker’s profession and industry, the employment market, and the status of employment in general, the JSC uses questions as a jumping off point to enhance the questions’ answer and the client’s education, as well as preparation for and assignment of more tasks.

If this information gathering and feedback doesn’t happen with your JSC, you’re in the wrong place.

Advice: Job seekers don’t know what they don’t know. But a good JSC does, and will use these teaching moments to your advantage

Mistake # 5: Their Process vs. Your Needs

In their hearts, great JSCs are trainers. They get a great sense of satisfaction from seeing you grow, develop, and win:

  • Conquering your fear of networking,
  • Getting a networking meeting with a hard-to-reach contact,
  • Learning how to interview network contacts for information,
  • Interviews, and
  • The job that is your dream job!

Great JSCs are trainers who will push you to develop, do the work, and hold your feet to the fire. The essence of their job is to train you in the process of how to find a new position or make a transition in your current job. Job seekers come to JSCs with different levels of knowledge about how to make a transition:

  1. Some who have been through previous job searches, may only need a tune-up of their job seeking skills and knowledge.
  2. Others who have never needed to find a job before need to start at the beginning.

A sign of a good coach is they take your experience into account and meet you where you are.

Advice: Look for a coach who describes a logical, orderly, progressive approach to your job search and expects you to follow it – a sign of a good trainer. Look for a JSC who has stories to tell and experiences to recount about their clients’ successes in following the process, as well as the outcomes for those clients who balked at having to follow the process or do the work and who were less than successful.

Hiring a Job Search Coach can be a smart strategy. It can really help you get from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow. But, as with all things important, Buyer Beware. Being aware of the five potential mistakes you can make can help you avoid them. It’s a Smart Strategy.

Nancy GoberNancy Gober is a career strategist who has helped thousands of job seekers find employment. She’s also been a popular resume reviewer at our Cleared Job Fairs. You may reach Nancy via email at [email protected]. Follow Nancy on Twitter @AfterJobClub.


  • Nancy Gober

    Nancy Gober is a career strategist who has helped thousands of job seekers find employment, and the author of “Jobs Are Not Found Sitting at the Computer.” You may reach Nancy via email at [email protected].

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This entry was posted on Monday, July 27, 2015 8:49 am

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