The Case Against Deceptive Career Coaches

The Case Against Deceptive Career Coaches

As job seekers continue to struggle in a downed economy, it seems more and more of them are hiring career coaches as a last resort. They feel they are qualified for the jobs, but something is missing and that is why they aren’t getting noticed or hired. “Maybe it’s my interviewing skills or maybe my resume doesn’t impress the reader” they say to themselves. Then they come across a website like that is promoted on The San Francisco Bay Guardian, a low grade newspaper that has paid listings on topics ranging anywhere from astrology to music (and one topic so unprofessional that I can’t list it here), as “The Bay Area’s Best Career Coach”. The problem with this is that being called “The Bay Area’s Best Career Coach” by such a low grade paper that is driven by paid promotions is not only deceptive and gives job seekers a false sense hope, but it is highly unethical as well. The Guardian is hardly an industry expert in job searching or careers. Not to mention, if you go to Marty’s website, it looks like it was designed by a high school kid. How in the world could he be able to market you effectively if he can’t even create a nice enough presentation for himself? Sure, you can choose to pay $450 for a two hour phone conversation with a guy who missed his chance at real success only to be told the obvious career advice if you wish. But if you think about it, that’s no better than hiring someone to show you how to tie your own shoes after being promised you’ll be able to run faster. It just makes no sense.

In fact, hiring a career coach like this guy is worse because the effects are far greater. Not only are many of his clients more than likely unemployed and struggling to pay the bills, but this guy expects them to shell out nearly half of a thousand dollars so he can blabber on about what he thinks is best during your job search without even knowing who they are. This seems very cut and dry for a service that prides itself so highly. A two hour phone conversation is hardly enough time to discuss and formulate a job-search strategy for the entire 20-year career of a seasoned professional or executive. In my opinion, career coaching services that charge this high of a fee to tell people what they already know are borderline fraudulent. Especially when you think about people who are professional-level managers or executives who are very smart (which is how they got to where they are today) but are simply struggling to land a job due to the high-volume competition they are facing as a result of massive layoffs that have been taking place since late 2008, and struggling not so much due to a lack of career management abilities.

For most professional-level jobs, employers use resumes not just to see applicants’ abilities, but to assess their key strengths, gauge their accomplishments, and project how the candidate will contribute to future results of the company.  Wouldn’t it make more sense to hire a resume writer instead of a career coach, who in fact is sort of like a career coach in that they will still give you job search advice and interviewing tips as part of their resume writing services for much less than what career coaches charge just to chat with you for an hour or two? Well, at least the good ones will.

According to Marty Nemko, his thoughts are completely opposite as stated in his article “The Case Against Resume Writers”. He apparently sees no value at all in a resume writer’s ability to translate a job seeker’s skills from one industry to the next by showing how prior strengths can help them transition into a career in a completely different field. What Marty obviously doesn’t understand is that not everyone’s strongest strength is writing, and more than likely writing is not going to be the main thing employers look for in candidates unless they are applying for editorial, teaching or journalist type jobs that require it as a skill. His take on this is quite hypocritical given the fact that it’s basically the same kind of advice he gives his career-change clients verbally, only telling them how harness their skills and passions themselves instead of doing the actual work for them. In fact, many good career coaches actually provide resume writing services as part of their career coaching packages or make referrals to expert resume writers who have a high success rate in helping their clients land interviews. The good ones also provide helpful tips on how to properly structure a resume and convey certain industry-specific terms properly. So, why is Marty so hard on resume writers? If you know anything about the World Wide Web, the most effective marketing tactic to get people to read your articles, according to social media statistics, is to write about negative topics then promote your own website at the bottom of the article that you wrote. It stirs up controversy and that’s exactly what Marty was after. No, that’s not at all what I’m trying to do here. I am just stating the facts.

Marty then goes on even further to say “If it was ethical to hire someone to write your résumé, why, at the bottom of each résumé, don’t résumé writers write, “written by Jane Jones, professional résumé writer?” Well…Marty – If it was ethical to hire a career coach, why, at the end of each interview, would a job seeker not say, “my career coach told me to say that?” I mean come on, what an ignorant statement. Luckily the majority of people reading your article are smart.

An applicant who chooses to do his or her own work because he or she can’t afford to hire a professional is not unfairly penalized at all. There are plenty of ethical career coaches and resume writers out there who have Helpful Tips sections or Blogs on their websites that provide free advice on interviewing and resume writing best practices. There’s no excuse at all as to why a candidate ends up getting hired over another just because they had a better interview etiquette or resume. This same concept applies with Free Enterprise and Capitalism, which are the foundations of why the United States is such a great country. Businesses who have better advertisements prepared by advertising agencies sell more products on TV. That’s a fact Jack! How is this any different than having a better advertisement of your skills prepared by an outside agency?  Even the best career coaches in America will tell you this.  Promoting yourself and your abilities effectively is the only way to sell your personal brand in such a competitive job market.  Whether you do this yourself or have someone else do it for you, if you take your career seriously, you will make sure things are done right either way.

In summary, hiring a career coach and hiring a resume writer are both ethical practices. However, hiring a career coach or resume writer that berates the other’s profession is bad because that person is doing nothing more than deceptively advertising his or her own practice by putting down the other. Beware of this. Legitimate career coaches and resume writers work together and provide very similar services to job seekers which is why it makes no sense for a career coach to act so immaturely toward his sister profession. Enhancing a resume is just the same as enhancing one’s career management skills, whether it’s through verbal communication or written correspondence.

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  • tina

    Just perfect Justin. People need to be educated on what we really do vs. gross opinion from individuals proclaiming to know.

    Nicely done!

    August 2, 2013 at 11:14 am

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