Executive Impact quoted in recent press:
CLICK HERE TO READ brief articles about career success on the Southern Technology Leaders website.(Career & Personal Development)
CLICK HERE TO READ suggested new year career resolutions in a Fox Business article.
CLICK HERE TO READ an AJC article recommending Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!), Richard's new
CLICK HERE TO READ an AJC article regarding the importance of attitude.
ARTICLE: Career Coaching, Recruiters, Etc.
Career coaching is a personal service designed for individuals who want to improve their career situations.
Coaching is a process of questioning, discovering, and problem solving - all centered around the individual's career
situation and goals. The mission of career coaching is to improve career achievement and satisfaction through support
in many career-centric areas. Such achievement requires focused and consistent effort. One of the most important benefits
of coaching programs is the quicker progress clients can obtain by establishing and maintaining accountability to a
Career coaching frequently focuses on helping people establish clear goals, develop self-marketing strategies,
improve sales skills, enhance resumes, improve interviewing skills, negotiate better compensation agreements, and become
accountable for the actions needed to keep their careers on track. Some experienced career coaches understand how the
job market works and leverage their knowledge for the benefit of their clients. Others educate their clients, equip
them with a good resume, and then leave the client to navigate the job market by their own wits. The more a coach is
able to provide expert career guidance and job search strategies to high income clients, the closer their services
tend to emulate consulting rather than coaching. My practice is more accurately described as career consulting
rather than career coaching.
Comparing career coaching to other services
Career coaching is frequently confused with other types of career services that may be more familiar to many. These
other career-related services are contrasted in the following paragraphs.
Career coaching can be contrasted with more limited services such as career counseling or résumé writing services.
Traditional career counseling can help you match your skills, knowledge, abilities, and interests to occupational options.
Most counselors use a variety of assessments. Career counseling is most helpful for people who want to intensely examine
their career options. Many career counselors stop short of advising clients in the mechanics of the job market and few
counselors provide expert job search skills. If you only want to identify occupational options and the fees are reasonable,
a good career counselor may be your best option.
Resume writing services vary widely in cost and quality. For $99.95 on the Internet you can get a $15/hour person to
rewrite your resume and it is possible that it might be an improvement. Then again, it might not. On the other end of the
spectrum, executives can pay $1,000 or more for an "executive resume" and upwards of $2,000 - $5,000 for a resume rewrite
that includes snail mailings to hundreds or thousands of addressees. If you only want your resume improved and nothing else,
quality resume writers who charge reasonable rates (more than $99.95) may be your best option.
Career coaching can be contrasted with other types of coaching such as life (personal) coaching, executive coaching,
and business coaching. Based upon the names, the differences here are fairly obvious. If your challenges involve your
personal life or business, then a life or business coach can be the right person for you. If your employer is grooming
you for succession plans or to be more effective in your current executive position, then an executive coach would normally
be the best choice. Most executive coaches are paid by employers and hence are not motivated to help you consider career
options outside your current employer. Lastly, a business coach could be your best bet if you need independent advice to
start or run your business.
Career coaching can be contrasted with a service that sometimes includes some support similar to career coaching - corporate
outplacement. Corporate outplacement services are paid by employers for the purpose of easing employees out the door. Such
services were addressed in a previous chapter. Most outplacement services can be delivered with minimal variable labor costs
and fixed facilities costs, which makes the business model work well for the vendor (the outplacement firm) and the client
Note: A recent business trend is the offering of executive coaching and career marketing services by outplacement firms. If
you are interested in career marketing services provided by an outplacement company, do your homework to insure it is not simply
a repackaged version of their traditional outplacement services.Career coaching can be contrasted with a descendant of corporate
outplacement - career marketing services. Career marketing firms tend to follow the services model of outplacement firms and were
discussed in a previous chapter. Some career marketing companies suggest they have a "clientele" of employers who look to them for
job candidates, but I wouldn't count on it. It is fair to say that these services are reasonably similar to corporate outplacement,
are fee-based, and are paid by the individual.
Career coaching can be contrasted with one polar opposite-independent recruiting and executive search services. These firms
were discussed in a previous chapter. Recruiters and executive search consultants are not in business to help individuals
manage their careers or find their next jobs. They help employers find the exact octagonal purple peg desired to fit in the
employer's octagonal purple hole (the job). Most recruiters don't coach job seekers in the ways of the job market because they
don't have time, don't make any money doing it, and (frankly) they have never had the proper training to do this. Good
recruiters make $100K to $300K and more. They view their time as valuable and job seekers, unfortunately, tend to be seen as
a waste of their time.
Fast track tip: During the 2008/2009 employment downturn, recruiters were losing business and searching for alternative
revenue options. More and more were remarketing themselves as career coaches. If you are interested in career coaching services
provided by a former or current recruiter, be sure to do your homework to insure they offer all the support you desire. Being
a good recruiter does not qualify someone to be a good career coach.
Career coaching can also be contrasted with a second polar opposite-internal (HR employee) and external (1099 contract)
employer recruiting services. These recruiters who work for employers as full-time employees or as contract workers tend to
reconfirm the stereotype that may job seekers dread - the HR staffer who treats all job seekers with indifference. "Submit
your application online and we will contact you if we have a match" is their brush-off line. Recruiting groups within popular
employers receive hundreds of unsolicited résumés each day. When a hiring manager tells a job seeker they must first apply
for a job on line - or that they will "forward your résumé to HR" - it is almost always the kiss of death. Employer recruiters
are generally nice people, but they are very busy and bombarded by inquiries from random job seekers they do not know. They
work for their employer, not for the job seekers.
When would be the best time to consider career coaching services?
A typical career coaching client is seeking a positive change. Many are employed and seeking a better gig. Some of the best
times a person could benefit from career coaching are when they desire:
- Discovery of better occupational options
- A shorter, more effective job search
- Increased income
- More challenging work
- Opportunity for professional development/advancement
- Flexibility in work hours
- Improved work/life balance
- A better boss
Why not do everything yourself?
There are many reasons to consider professional career coaching support. Here is an analogy to consider:
When most people are faced with the option of taking off work for a month to paint their house versus paying a painting
company to do a professional job in a few days, most people opt for the painting company. They want experienced professionals
to get the work done faster and with higher quality. They don't want to injure themselves falling off a ladder. They don't want
the paint to peel prematurely due to incorrect preparation or application. They don't want to sacrifice a month of time off work.
Note: Many years ago my boss (a Vice President) fell off a ladder and crushed his elbow. He was out of work for several weeks,
in terrible pain for over a year, and forced to give up his beloved golf game because he never recovered full use of his elbow.
That was an expensive fall off a ladder while working on his house. Ineffectively managing your career can, likewise, be painful
in the 21st century.
Identifying a great career match and landing your dream job is actually far more difficult than painting a house. It can
also be far more expensive to languish in the wrong profession or industry than to paint a house.
That was then, this is now.
Despite the drawbacks, the vast majority of career seekers (whether employed or unemployed) chose in the last century to go
without professional career help. That was then. This is now.
Many professionals and executives are now awakening to the need for better career and job search strategies - ones that
work in the 21st century job market. They are slowly beginning to recognize the immense cost and frustration of longer and
longer job searches. They have seen friends and relatives struggle alone, some losing their life savings and homes, never
turning to quality professional help for a solution.
Fast track tip: Whether seeking a new position within your existing employer or outside, set a near-term date as your goal
for achieving your desire. If you don't achieve it by that date, start investigating professional help. If unemployed, I
recommend you job search no more than three months before investigating professional help. Three months of sincere job seeking
will give you a feel for the effectiveness of your job search strategies and actions. Alternatively, three months of not making
a sincere effort may tell you that you need the professional accountability source a coach can provide you.
So, what types of people seek professional career coaches? Most of the unemployed career coaching clients I have known were
people who were highly capable in their occupations, but recognized the limits of their abilities as job seekers and clearly
understood the downside costs of today's long job searches. Most employed clients I have known wanted to make a significant
positive change in their careers and recognized the long-term benefit such change would provide. Both types of clients have
tended to be well educated and open to the specialized education a career coach can provide. They viewed coaching as a
reasonable investment in their greatest asset - themselves!
Think of yourself as a machine in a factory. When you are engaged, you can crank out work and your production results in
revenue (your income). When you are unemployed, you are like a machine that is out of operation. You aren't earning any income
just as the out of work machine cannot produce any income. For the unemployed, effective coaching is designed to get them back
in operation in their profession so they can generate income.
Why is career help more important in the 21st Century market?
While much of this book is focused on job searching, the general slowdown in hiring and promotions is affecting a much
larger portion of the population than simply those who are unemployed. One of the difficulties with "do-it-yourself" careering
and/or job search in the 21st century is that the U.S. employment market has changed radically during the first decade and old
style career strategies are now far less effective. With the shortening of job tenures, more people are changing employers far
more often than in the past. It is not uncommon for 30-40% of the employed population to be job hunting behind the scenes. This
means there are more people than ever competing for the better jobs, even in times of low unemployment.
As of this writing in late 2010, we have not seen low unemployment for over 2 years. The current non-recovery is reducing
unemployment at a far slower pace than in any recession since World War II. News reports say that there are currently six job
seekers for every available job and that significant hiring may not return during 2012. There is no way to ignore the fact that
the employment market has changed drastically.
In addition to increased competition among candidates, another reason professional career help may be warranted is because
employers have become more sophisticated in their interviewing and hiring techniques. Some employers troll the Internet for
large numbers of applicants, making the odds of getting an interview miniscule and the odds of getting the job upwards of 1:500
or more, although executive job postings may only garner 100 - 200 candidates. It is not unusual to find that managerial hiring
decisions that were made with two or three rounds of interviews in the 20th century are now requiring four or five rounds of
And what are the most popular mainstream career services responses to the extraordinary job market dynamics we are currently
Many graduating college seniors are forced to rely on understaffed college career centers.
A minority of downsized executives and professionals are shuttled into outplacement firms with Class A commercial building
space, computers, off the shelf databases, and underpaid career counselors who have insufficient relevant corporate experience.
The majority of downsized executives and professionals are simply left to fend for themselves. Those who have graduated from
local universities have limited career services for alumni.
Free "programs" of churches and government agencies try their best and mean well. Unfortunately, they deliver very little
in the way of results for low income workers and even less for professionals and executives.
Career coaching is intended to fill the substantial educational and career resource chasm. To the extent coaching programs
fill this chasm, they deliver not just a new job - they provide life skills that can result in a lifetime of competitive
When career coaching can be of most help
In addition to help with job searches, there are several other times in peoples' careers when coaching has potential to add
value. These include:
- Adjusting to a job promotion
- Being passed over for a job promotion
- Changing profession or work function
- Transitioning in a new industry
- Re-entering the workforce
- Leaving Corporate America, such as for consulting
Each of the above major career transitions creates threats and opportunities for you. A career coach can help you evaluate
options and offer independent, expert advice to help you cope with changes.
How can career seekers benefit from career coaching without wasting their time and money?
There are many factors that contribute to an individual's career success. Some of these factors are difficult to identify,
isolate, and improve. The "coaching model" that is taught in many coach training programs may or may not be efficient in
addressing such factors.
Career coaching is an unregulated profession and there are large variations in effectiveness among the coaching population.
Some career marketing employees, outplacement consultants, and recruiters "moonlight" and label themselves as career coaches
despite their lack of relevant training and experience. Due diligence is always suggested before starting to work with any
type of coach.
Career coaching is a narrow discipline that is frequently confused with other career-related services such as recruiting,
outplacement, and career marketing services. The gigantic changes experienced in the job market have increased competition for
work and driven more career seekers to seek professional support. As with any significant purchase, individuals would be well
advised to do their homework before purchasing career coaching or other types of coaching services.
In our company, we offer several enhancements and additions to traditional career coaching services.
(1) We rely heavily on our practical business experience to act as subject matter expert consultants.
(2) We provide copyrighted, detailed step-by-step program reference manuals.
(3) We supplement our manual with informative books, tapes, and videos that provide supporting information.
(4) We believe that self-confidence, professional image, and belief systems are important for career success. We are unique in providing our clients integrated in-house access to life/personal coaching, image consulting, and psychological counseling. These services are provided by someone other than the career coach, so that personal issues do not get entangled with the career coaching relationship.