Should You Hire a Career Coach?

Blogger G.L. Hoffman test his son's theory on career coach cliches.

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GL Hoffman

I was talking to my son the other day and he admitted that he didn’t understand what career coaches could do for anyone. “They just offer up a bunch of clichés, or stuff you could look up online,” he said.

He might be right. Or wrong. What do you really think?

Even though I am not a career coach by occupation (although, admission: I do "coach" a very few people), I decided to test his theory of cliché-driven advice and what he knows from his Googling.

I asked him to tell me what he knows about informational interviews and the prevalent “May I stop by and introduce myself to you, Mr. Big, our mutual contact Joe Smith said you would be a good person to talk with” situation.

“What would you do during that interview?” I asked.

“I’d just come prepared to ask a lot of questions and hear what Mr. Big has to say about his field. Hopefully, my questions would be good enough that he is impressed enough to pick up the phone and introduce me to someone,” he said.

“Ah, so you are hoping to impress him, not really get information?” I say.

“No, I want the inside skinny on the industry too…and maybe the players too. But I would hope he gives me some people to call, at least, and allows me to use his name.” He's thinking on his feet now.

“So during this part of the conversation, do you expect him to just start rattling off names of companies and people to call?

“Yeah, why not?” he says.

“It might happen. But why don’t you try this: Come to the interview with a prepared sheet of paper--a grid/chart really--of the companies you are most interested in, with the names of employees at his level in those companies, with their E-mail addresses, LinkedIn profile information, phone numbers, and maybe even a big issue facing that company today. That way, when you ask him if he has some ideas or people for you to call, give him the paper. You can at least prime the pump a bit, as it were.”

“Ok, thanks,” he said. “That might work, too.”


G.L. Hoffman is a serial entrepreneur and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig , and his blog can be found at or at


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