Choosing Career Coaches with the Mostest and the Leastest?



Actively looking for a full time job that I can settle into for close to a year and a half can leave you craving for stability, in the worst way. I miss the days of passing around the umpteenth birthday card to sign – in a month’s time, listening to a coworker drone on about their weekend or weird dream; sabotaging your diet because yet another colleague brought in cookies, cupcakes or an oddly lopsided appetizing strudel. Yes, people under 40 make strudels? I thought that too.

When my position was eliminated, as part of my “going away” package – my company offered me the option of enlisting a career services agency to assist with transitioning. Their exact phrase! I was transitioning into a new phase of my life, not in the Bruce Jenner-to-Caitlin Jenner way, but exploring new opportunities away from publishing that I could assume. At first, I felt useful, getting up every morning with a sense of purpose, going to the agency and participating in workshops, meeting other displaced professionals in the same downsized boat. What I found was that even though there were resources there to help in your job search; printers, faxes, private offices, phones and all the amenities you took for granted at your old job – these former HR professionals were behind the times. They were disseminating information to us as if it was 1999. Three page cover letters? Cold call potential employers? Faxing resumes? With people’s attention spans’ similar to that of a toddler’s, how in the world are you supposed to get noticed by hiring managers with these outdated tips? Regardless, I kept going to the agency for the duration of the 6 months I was allotted for the flavored coffee, air-conditioning and free printing services.

One piece of advice I did take was to visit the Science, Industry and Business Library on 35th and Madison. When my time was up at the agency, I spent my days between SIBL and the Department of Labor (free printing services) researching career programs and new coaches. Using for free. Yup! With your library card number (listed on the back of the card) you can access any of the thousands of courses on the site. Check out: for many of the services and programs they offer.

One coach at the DOL boasted how he was on CNN, AOL, NBC, BBC and every other 3-letter acronym affiliated with a network he could blab about. He was adamant about not wasting your time with the gatekeepers; instead taking time to look up the emails to the hiring managers: the decision-makers. I’ve been doing this all along, but for those that haven’t attempted to do this, it’s a great tip. “Don’t submit as the button urges you to do on that online job application. You are better than that!” He shouted. “You shouldn’t submit to anyone” Ok, I thought, yeah that’s one approach. But, sometimes when you do that and contact the hiring manager directly, they steer you to the company site. It’s happened to me many times. So! You take your chances and see who will respond.

What you have to watch out for with these career coaches, hired by the library and DOL and funded by state is the vague career advice they offer up front so that you can buy their coaching services. Be weary. I’ve seen my share of career coaches that have said everything from: “Don’t even bother with the jobs online. Those are the positions nobody wants” to “The only way you’ll get a job is if you network.” Being in this job search game for a while, I’d say: Spend 30% applying for jobs online – the jobs you’ve discovered, be honest with yourself and determine if you have half of the job requirements listed, 40% of your time writing to hiring managers at your dream companies and spend 30% of your time researching groups on LinkedIn, Facebook and meetups in your industry. I’ve gone to most of these events by myself. It was painstakingly hard, but if I can do it, you can do it.


Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 11.49.30 PM.pngOne coach I thought was useful to my career branding techniques, because of his transparency and patience is Thomas Powner. At first glance, he looks like a retired police officer, but once he starts speaking and showing his slides on the proper way to use LinkedIn, I was impressed, He had an in-depth approach to mastering the extensive features on LinkedIn and explained what they meant. He reported on Stats about what it costs for individuals, based on their previous salaries, to be out of work for a month and year. He also gives new insight on what it means to be unemployed for different lengths of time. Plus, he offers a free 15-minute assessment on your resume or LinkedIn profile (side note: he goes over the 15 minutes!)

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