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How to Choose and Use a Career Counselor or Coach

Career counselors and coaches are professionals who charge fees to help clients make their job searches or career changes more successful.  

See also: Tips for successful networking.

There are small but significant differences between counselors and coaches.

Career counselors hold advanced degrees, such as a master’s in counseling. Generally, these professionals specialize in helping their clients determine appropriate career paths or overall strategies. Consider a counselor if you’re at a crossroads, or if you want to understand your career goals better.

Career coaches focus more on concrete steps to achieve a goal or to improve a certain skill, such as networking, interviewing, or communication. Coaches are more goal-oriented than career counselors. Together, you would look for solutions and strategies with a coach.

How to Select a Career Professional

  • Seek personal referrals from friends, relatives, and colleagues.
  • Search the Web sites of the professional associations listed at the end of this tip sheet.
  • Request free initial consultations with several professionals.
  • Check out the credentials of the people you’re considering.
  • Request referrals from other clients.
  • Decide if you are more comfortable conferring by phone, by e-mail, or in person.
  • Walk away if you’re promised a higher-paying job, a dream job, or a better lifestyle. No one can guarantee success.

Match a Professional to Your Needs

  • Know what you want. Would you like help with the entire job-search process or with a specific skill? Signs of a good match:
  • The career adviser helps you identify your unique skills and maximize your assets in finding a job.
  • The professional has experience in working with people 50 and older.
  • You and the career consultant are partners in mapping out steps to reach your goals.
  • The contract between you and the professional specifies the outcome of your counseling, the time frame, and tools and materials that will be provided.  

Next: How much will it cost? >>

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