Finding the Right Career Professional for You


December 1, 2015

Hiring a career professional is serious business. There are plenty of
folks listed under “employment” or “careers” in the telephone
directory, but how do you decide which one can help you with your job
search or career change?

The players are varied, as are their backgrounds. A few of the job titles you may encounter include recruiters (also known as headhunters), career management consultants, career counselors, career coaches, human services workers, and resume writers—to name a few.

So, what do you do? Here are six tips to help you find the career professional that is right for you:

  1. Look for appropriate training: One of the best degrees in the “career development” field is a Masters Degree with a specialization in Career Counseling. A number of colleges and universities provide this training and require the students to learn career development theories, formal counseling techniques and assessment strategies.
    Generally, the career professional will indicate their educational background on their business card or you might ask them in your initial meeting. Be open to specialized training programs or certificates as well. Some of the best help you might get could be someone who’s life experience or related education is equally valid.
  2. Experience Counts: Your job search or career change is multidimensional. Your level of income, your family obligations, your ambitions, and your longer-term prospects for career success are on the line. Adding to the complexity is the tumultuous world of work, with new fields emerging and competition for good jobs getting tougher every day. That said—you need a career professional who has been around the block a few times. Find out how many years they have been working in the field and what level of professional (entry to executive) they typically work with.
  3. Chemistry Matters: Your career professional needs to be smart, tough and deeply connected to your goals and values. This is your life and it is personal! Most career professionals will offer an initial session and you should expect to pay for the time. This enables you to comfortably ask every question that comes to mind and have the time to fully explain your situation. If, for any reason, you do not feel good about the career professional you have met, ask for a referral and move on.
  4. Be Open to Services Delivered by Phone: The best person to help you may not live in your town. Use your professional network to uncover the best. It is ideal to have your first meeting face-to-face but subsequent work can be done via phone, e-mail and by utilizing web-based services.
  5. Make Sure they Offer an Up-to-Date, Comprehensive
    Career Assessment Process: There are four components to a solid career assessment. These include values analysis, skills assessment, career interest identification and personality clarification. Further, the careers you are introduced to should be current, allowing you to expand your horizons. Too frequently, career professionals administer a single-focused assessment, over looking key elements of your profile. Ask about the instrument they plan to use and make sure it covers all the important areas of self-discovery you need to achieve a focus.
  6. Don’t Let Go of a Good Career Professional: Career management on-the-job is critical to your long-term success. A great career professional can be one of your biggest career assets and, you might get your employer to pay for it. “Career coaching” within organizations is growing at an exponential rate and studies have shown that it increases productivity and reduces turnover. You may find that you share your career pro with your staff, helping your whole team reach their potential.

If you are considering a career change or fear that your job might be at risk, here are some resources to help you find a qualified career professional. Contact the National Career Development Association at 866-367-6232 or visit, or visit the National Board for Certified Counselors at