What You Need to Know About Career Services

Have you considered enlisting the assistance of a career coach or counselor to help you get back on the career path that’s perfect for you?

You’re not alone.

Everyday, scores of professionals feel the need to take external assistance in helping them get out of a rut, change a career path or just help them get started in their nascent careers. While career services professionals, like resume writers, career coaches or even recruiting agencies themselves may not be at fault, many times applicants enlist these services only to discover that they didn’t need them, they misunderstood what would be obtained or just didn’t take full advantage of the service.

At the minimum, this is a big waste of your time and money. In the worst case scenario, you might have quit your job and taken up a new role only to find out it’s not meant for you at all. Now you’re stuck.

As is the case with everything in life, use your judgment and make the final decision for yourself. Career service professionals are advice givers and network connectors. They can give good advice, in some case great advice and in most other cases bad advice. You need to make sure that the people you’re enlisting to help you have your best interests at heart. You also need to consider the advice and assistance they give you as just that: advice and assistance. You’re still in the driver’s seat, and they’re not.

Having said that, finding the right professional for you is not easy. A Google search for any category of career development services will yield thousands, if not tens of thousands of results if you don’t know what to look for. If we try to condense all these services into a few basic categories, we would get something like the following:

1. Resume Writing Services

Synonyms: resume writers, CV writing services, cover letter writing services (not exactly a synonym but a related service)

Resume Writing Services

What they do: These service providers help you present your profile through a resume or a cover letter. Usually, certain industries require information to be presented in a certain way, whereas other types of sectors may want the resume to be a certain size or format. This information is available online if you look for it, but enlisting the assistance of a resume writer might pay off very well if they know what they’re doing.

Be careful about: Entrusting the wrong people to help you. While there are a great many resume writing service providers out there, not everyone is capable or qualified to be helping you. Some people just have a standard template that they force everyone’s resume into, and that’s not really going to help you. Also, you won’t really know how good they are unless you have a way of verifying that they indeed got good results for their previous clients.

2. Recruiting Agencies

Synonyms: staffing agencies, recruiters, headhunting firms, placement agencies

What they do: In a nutshell, these agencies give you access to professional networks you did not have access to before. Usually, they do end up getting applicants interviews and sometimes job offers, but in quite a few cases they would require that you pay them a percentage of your salary for a period of time over and above what you’ve paid them already. Their job is to sell you, and they will usually succeed in their efforts unless your profile is really not suited to the jobs you’re trying to get into or if this industry just isn’t having many openings at this time in the general location you’re looking to work in.

Be careful about: When you’re enlisting the help of a recruiting agency, make sure that they have a track record of success, especially in your industry. Since they are expensive when compared to other career service types (because their service is relatively more valuable), make sure you’re choosing the right people to partner with.

3. Career coaches

Synonyms: Career consultants, career advisers, career counselors, job consultants

Working with Career Counselors

What they do: They will basically give you advice about what you need to do in order to get where you want to go. This type of service usually benefits an advice-seeker who is not sure what direction they need to go. Sometimes, the advice they give you will be something you may already know. In this case, it would be wise to stop procrastinating and start acting on what you need to do in order to get to your goals.

Be careful about: The fact of the matter is that whatever advice you receive, you and you alone are responsible for the consequences. The career adviser may be right in what they advise you, but then again its up to you to make sure these kind of career services work out for you.

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About Tarun

Tarun is a Chemical Engineer with a passion for helping people succeed in their careers. He spends his work week as a consultant to industry. In his free time he's usually formulating his next article for GradsUp.