When to Ask a Career Expert for Help

We're usually hesitant to spend the money, but here are eight situations when it might be smart to call on an expert to help guide your career.


Few people experience a perfect career. In fact, many of us will experience real troubles over the years.

And, partly depending on the economy, your ability to succeed without help will vary. But even in good times, you can benefit from having an experienced hand to help guide you.

Maybe you need someone to provide important perspective about your situation. Or specific services like resume writing, personality testing, or coaching on job-search strategy.

While we all know experts exist, we’re sometimes hesitant to call. It’s hard to invest the money, even when times absolutely call for it.

Here are eight situations when it might be time to finally pick up the phone and call a career expert:

You hate your job. Several recent studies show that many of us are not happy in our jobs. And when we are not happy at work, that affects our lives. Our families feel the pain, and our best work is often left somewhere in a bottom drawer. So sit with someone who can help you find your ideal job, someone who can build a plan to get you there with confidence.

[See Use Passion to Stand Out as a Job Candidate.]

Your job search is going nowhere. It’s been three months. Or six. You are well past your expected hiring date, and you’re starting to feel desperate. If there’s a real problem with your process, hiring someone to help you fix it makes sense. It will give you peace of mind and new momentum—and both are worth the money you’ll spend.

You want to change functions or industries. Is a career change bubbling up in you? This is one of the most difficult transitions in life. Hiring managers are looking for a great fit, and they’d rather not take a risk with someone who’s new to the job or industry, even when you’re highly confident your skills will easily transfer. Changing industries can be done, but you may need an expert to help you re-brand yourself in a way that will give you the best chance at nabbing a new position.

[See 14 Secrets to Career Change Success.]

You want a promotion. So you love your job. The company is cool and your industry is a place where you feel at home. Great! But maybe the money isn’t great. Or you’re simply an ambitious person. If you want to identify smart ways to ask for and get a promotion, a career coach can help you structure the right approach. A coach can also help you become the type of person who deserves that promotion.

You need to repair a relationship with your boss. Want to drop-kick your boss? If you feel like your boss doesn’t understand or appreciate you, hiring a coach can help you figure out what you’re doing wrong and provide strategies to begin building a stronger relationship. This way, you can diagnose communication problems and personality differences, and turn a bad situation into a tolerable one.

You need to build or re-build your network. Particularly if you‘ve been out of work for a while, you may need to bolster your network. A career coach can help you establish a process, get you set up or optimized on LinkedIn and other social-networking tools, and teach you smart ways to build and tap the community around you.

You want to create a personal brand. Establishing a unique voice and brand helps you stand out, whether you’re in a job search or gainfully employed. But self-analysis often doesn’t work. It can be painful and difficult to write your own resume or create other marketing materials about yourself. So why not hire a personal branding expert to do it right? Consider this before you actually need it, to help yourself get ahead of the curve.

[For more career advice, visit U.S. News Careers, or find us on Facebook or Twitter.]

You want to build influence in your community. Are you a person of influence? Do people know you or know about you? Do they anticipate your arrival at a networking event? Through tools like speaking, blogging, podcasting, or social media, you can become more important than the average person. A career coach can help you get there by turning your expertise into influence.

If your career situation is described above, pick up the phone and at least have a conversation. Search a career expert directory for someone who meets your needs. Learn what an expert can do to get you headed down a new, promising path.

Tim Tyrell-Smith is founder of Tim's Strategy, a site that helps professionals succeed in job search, career and life strategy. Follow Tim on Twitter, @TimsStrategy, and share his 30 Ideas Book with job-seeking friends.


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