Are Career Coaches Worth the Cash?

So you’ve recently been laid off, or your job sucks. Before you take up a career as a one-time bridge jumper, realize that today could be the first day of the rest of your life… Whenever one window closes, another opens… If you get lemons, turn them into lemonade. If—well, nevermind, I think that’s more than enough aphorisms for one article.

The Wall Street Journal has a blog series on their Web site where out-of-work MBAs “search for jobs in a post-meltdown world” and write about their ordeals. According to one of them, who has seen career coaches despite her initial skepticism, “each session has been well worth the advice.”

That’s wonderful! Now get back to submitting resumes on Monster.com—wait, don’t do that. According to Ford Myers, President of Career Potential and author of Get The Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring, “it’s very sad, and very unfortunate” when job seekers only post their resumes to online job sites.

What’s the Plan?

Myers told MainStreet that the vast majority of job hunters have a totally wrong approach. “Most of the clients we encounter have absolutely no skill, knowledge or sophistication on the subject of career management,” he said. Tough love! But maybe necessary: Myers’ firm teaches job seekers “how to think” about the hunt more effectively and develops a “complete blueprint” for them.

Furthermore, he says that his firm, which typically works with 20 to 50 clients at a time, realizes there are greater economic forces at work.

As he told us, “I read the same newspapers you do, and I’m very empathetic about the pressures that are out there in the market.” Despite this, he believes the burden is on the individual to find the right job: he reminded us that even if a region has 10% unemployment, that means that 90% are still employed.

He believes that once workers know how to sell their value to a firm effectively, success is inevitable.

“If they do know how to articulate their value, they will have a job. It’s as simple as that.” His firm has a “100%” success rate; although he doesn’t offer a money back guarantee, there is an “out clause” where an unsatisfied customer can bail out within a certain period of time. It has never been used.

Hallie Crawford, another media savvy career coach who has appeared on CNN’s American Morning and Fox Business Network, deals with a smaller client load—around 12 to 15 people at a time. Her firm boasts a 91% placement rate and offers a one-month money-back guarantee. She reminded us that she “doesn’t have a magic wand” and emphasizes that a client ends up doing most of the work. Her services range from $175 to $750 per month.

Career coaching for cheapskates

If you aren’t willing to throw down a fat wad of cash on a career counselor or job guru, and if your previous employer is not willing to pay for a career coach under a so-called out placement agreement, it may make sense to start small.

Many career coaches have books, e-books and online versions of their services that cost only a fraction of the price for regular sessions.

Crawford, for example, offers a $24 “ideal career e-course” for job seekers and Myers has a book out in stores right now. In fact, it seems almost everyone is a job expert these days—even psychics. Sue Frederick, a “career intuitive” who relies on things like astrology and alleged psychic ability to point your career in the right direction, has a book out from St. Martin’s called I See Your Dream Job.

So if you aren’t ready to sign a career coach’s contract just yet, at least go to the library. It certainly can’t hurt.

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