An entire field in the consulting industry has sprung up to help you find the right job. Most who work in this arena call themselves either “career counselors” or “career coaches.” These professionals charge a fee to make your job search or career change more successful. But how do you know whether or not you really need the help?
You may be out of work and looking for a job, looking to switch careers, or stuck deciding about your career interests. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, think carefully about your needs before choosing.
Before hiring a counselor or coach, be a good consumer and do your homework. Explore free or low-cost online and community resources, such as the following:
- Books and Web sites for the mature job seeker.
- AARP Foundation WorkSearch. Provides detailed assessment, counseling, and job-search help for people who qualify. For locations, see www.aarp.org/scsep.
- Job clubs and career workshops. There’s no centralized database for job clubs or workshops, but they are offered by many religious and nonprofit groups. Check online and at your public library. The Web site QuintCareers.com tells you how to start your own support group.
- Networking. Find leads and support through family, friends, neighbors, and former colleagues. Make a list of leads and contacts, and follow up with each one. Your relationships can generate helpful job-hunting advice.
- Labor market information. Learn about jobs and the market in your area. The Career OneStop Web site, profiles hundreds of occupations and tells you what positions are in demand. Check out salary information sites, such as Salary.com.
- Career-assessment tests. Some are free; others charge a fee for more personalized service. Find out more at The Riley Guide and at the Job Hunter’s Bible.
Know What Career Counselors and Coaches Do
If you feel that you’ve done what you can on your own, then the individual attention of a career professional may be the answer. A good counselor or coach can help you:
- Clarify your life and career goals. A counselor can also test and assess your abilities and interests.
- Prepare yourself for job interviews by helping you frame responses to potential questions—such as whether you can master a new technology or report to a younger boss.
- Develop a fresh résumé highlighting your skills and achievements.
- Provide career planning and occupational information to help you better understand the world of work.
- Put together an individualized career plan, which you follow with assignments and planned learning experiences.
A Word of Caution
Career counseling and coaching are unregulated fields, so be sure to check the credentials and experience of your prospective consultants. The bottom line: Success in landing a good job is up to you.
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