Last Tuesday I presented at a networking event for local job seekers. There were 3 other career coach-types (technically I’m not a coach, but hey…let’s just call them coaches for this article to make things simple) talking to groups of 2 to 5 people at a time for about 15 minutes.

One was doing resume reviews, the other was talking about working with recruiters, and I was teaching about personal branding.

Every 15 minutes, the people at each table would migrate over to the next coach. It was kind of like speed dating, but for job seekers.

During one of my conversations, I was asked this question:

There are so many career coaches and job search programs out there, how do I know which one to hire? Is it even worth it?

Your Job Search is Like Running a Business

I know you’ve heard this before. But let’s get real with it. When a business hires a consultant, it is viewed as an investment, not a cost.

ROI is determined. Need is greater than the cost. And the decision is made. (plus consultants are tax-deductible)

I find it very alarming that job seekers don’t see their executive career coaches as a similar investment. Instead, most people make the mistake of only looking at the price tag. And that is bad business.

After all, your career coach may be able to shave months off of your job search.

Determining Your Investment

First, think about how much you used to earn. Let’s say that is $4,000 per month.

Therefore, the opportunity cost of not having a job is $4,000 per month minus unemployment benefits (if you have any).

You lose $4,000 every month.

A career coach or some kind of job search program will cost you between $200 to $1,000 in total.

Here’s the problem. There is no way to prove how many months a coach or a program has shaved off of your job search. So here is how I work around it.

Take Her for a Spin

Take your prospective job coach or job-seeking program for a test drive. Try one out per week. And if you notice that your emails are getting returned more frequently, that your resume is higher leverage or that overall, your results are starting to pile up faster than before, you can pretty much assume that their advice is working.

For example, people who work with me tell me that they get 50% more callbacks when asking for info interviews.

The average time for a job search is between 6-8 months.

50% response rate improvements mean you may have a job in 3-4 months instead.

Therefore, 3-4 months of not loosing $4,000 per month equals $12,000 – $16,000 back in your pocket for an investment of between $200- $1,000.

I’m not a business genius, but I can see that this is a no-brainer.

What Questions Should I Ask?

When deciding on a career coach or job-seeking program, you only really need to know one thing: How many months can they shave off my search. So ask them:

  • What is the average number of months your clients take to get a job?
  • How many job interviews do you think you can help me get per week?
  • What is your success rate?

Where to Start

If you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, you really need to see a full-on career coach. Someone who can help you with self-assessments and personality matching.

My friend Sean Harry is excellent at that. If you are interested, you can learn about his programs here: Career Management Solutions.

If you happen to like my advice and think that I can shave some months off of your job search, consider taking my “Job Seeker’s Guide to Social Media” video e-learning course.

But whatever you do, make sure you test out your investment first. There are a lot of wannabes who simply can’t find jobs themselves and so they pretend to help others get jobs.

Remember, never think of a consultant, coach, or training program as a cost. Think of it as an investment. Calculate the benefits of that investment intelligently. And you could be back to work sooner than you think.