Being unemployed or underemployed can be one of the most frustrating and financially draining experiences ever, and often in the journey, you’re looking for a leg up to get you into the opportunity of a lifetime. Though the unemployment rate for black people has dropped to 6.8%, it still remains about twice the rate for whites (3.7%), reflecting that the challenge of getting even a foot in the door or landing a job that meets qualifications and aspirations halfway is still an uphill battle for many.
Experts often recommend efforts such as attending job centers, maximizing career fairs, investing in resume revamps, and putting your networking into overdrive. And then there’s always the good ol’ career coach, who is expected to help you get 10 steps ahead of the competition with strategies on landing your dream gig. Hey, everybody’s a coach or strategist nowadays, right?
How do you sift through the hustlers and those who might be trying to take advantage of a vulnerable time in your life to find qualified individuals who will truly help you reach your career goals? How do you tangibly quantify a return on your investment? Do you truly have to spend money to make money in the job-seeking game?
Christopher Taylor, founder of The Occupation Optimist and a former executive recruiter who has placed top candidates at companies including Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, and Univison, offers three tips for finding and vetting a career coach best for you.
Research rates in your area and choose coaches based on their depth of services and experience that is relevant to your specific job-seeking goals.
Taylor recommends asking yourself some key questions: “Is this someone I should be taking advice from? Does this person have prior experience when it comes to career services, or if not, has this person worked in the industry in which I want to enter? Find out what companies their previous clients have received offers from.”
Use social media to get clues on whether a coach is a right fit for you in terms of a client-coach relationship.
“When you look at the job market, it’s almost inevitable that you’re going to feel some type of stress or anxiety during this process,” Taylor says. “You want to ensure that you’re working with someone who you feel comfortable with. Social media is a blessing because you can get into who a person is, what they bring to the table, as well as their knowledge and personality.”
Balance your expectations when considering a coach’s network or influence in helping you land a gig.
It’s not a good idea to assume that the coach will automatically hook you up with job opportunities. “It’s good to deal with a career coach that has an expansive network from the standpoint of that individual having access to a lot of information that can guide you in the right direction,” Taylor says. “However, leaning on a career coach for their network hoping that individual can simply plug you into the next opportunity is really dangerous and most often will lead to disappointment.”