What you need to know about hiring a career coach
NEW YORK - Fred Alm wants a full-time job. So much so that he paid a professional $200 to make his resume sparkle.
“I figured it would be worth it, even just to see what happens,’’ said Alm, a 52-year-old resident of Troy, N.Y., who teaches business classes part-time at a community college.
It has only been a week since Alm got his new resume, but he thinks the investment will pay off. It now starts with a “personal profile’’ that brings together his mixed background as a teacher and marketing professional. Then it dives into his key skills so hiring managers can see why he’s right for the job.
Whether the changes will make a difference is still to be seen. Unable to turn teaching into full-time work for the past several years, Alm decided to explore other opportunities. The timing isn’t in his favor.
Despite some glimmers of improvement, the job market remains crowded with an unemployment rate of 9.4 percent. That figure rises to 16.3 percent if you include those who’ve given up looking or settled for part-time work.
Given the competition, Alm isn’t the only one looking for an edge. You may also wonder if a career services professional can improve your chances.
Here’s the rundown on what you need to know.
For instance, the International Coach Federation, the National Resume Writers Association, and the Career Management Alliance each offer their own credentials. It’s also possible you’ll find a perfectly capable professional with no certifications.
“People should hire coaches or resume writers whose work they’ve seen and with whom they feel trust or a rapport,’’ said Liz Sumner, executive director of Career Management Alliance.
If you’re more comfortable working with an established business, many recruiting firms now offer career services, too.
Whatever route you choose, ask for work samples and a free consultation before forking over any money.
Finally, get the deal in writing. Spell out the services to be provided, and by when. This ensures you and the person you hire are on the same page.
“Once my candidates start talking to me, I’m always amazed that they don’t give themselves credit for all they’ve done,’’ said Alison Rosenblum, owner of Hudson River Career Resources in Albany, N.Y.
The writer should then compose a resume highlighting your most compelling traits.
You should get a draft resume about a week after the interview, with an option to suggest changes for no extra charge.
Hiring a full-service career coach usually involves a much deeper commitment. It generally covers all aspects of the job search, including prepping for an interview and tips on networking.
In addition to the one-on-one sessions, you might get takeaway assignments to ensure you’re staying active in the job hunt. Sessions can take place over the phone or in person.
Of course, most people aren’t hiring career coaches just for technical tips. For many, the benefit of a coach is having someone to keep them motivated and on track.
“Coaches can hold you accountable to achieve your goal,’’ said Amy Richardson, a spokeswoman for the International Coach Federation, a trade group based in Lexington, Ky.
Objective feedback from a professional could also shed light on why you’re not getting calls back.
For broader career guidance, you’ll likely be charged by the hour.
The International Coach Federation says you can expect to pay an average of $160 an hour, with coaches often recommending a set number of weekly or monthly sessions. Coaches might offer discounts for small group sessions or a package of services.
For instance, career coach Jan Melnik charges between $850 and $1,200 for an executive-level resume, cover letter, and action plan that spans eight weeks. Clients can pay extra for help with specific items, such as writing e-mails or cold calling potential employers. The additional services range from $300 to $500, said Melnik, who’s based in Durham, Conn.
It’s unlikely you’ll recover any money if you’re unhappy with the resume writer or career coach you hire. You can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or your state consumer agency, but there’s no guarantee your case will be investigated.