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I Just Blew Thousands on Free Career Services

Free is so tempting-especially when you're out of work. If you can get something for free, why pay for it? Right?

Free (or nominal cost) services are often available through universities for their alma mater and through church and community groups. [In fairness, there are many such services out there, and the quality and terms of service vary tremendously. We tend to hear from the people who, like Sandra, had bad experiences].

Sandra's Experience
Before becoming our client, a woman we'll call Sandra cancelled our initial meeting. She was relieved to find that a nearby community organization offered free career services. A friend told her, "Never pay for career help!"

The staff at the community organization's office looked at Sandra's resume and made a few comments. She attended large workshops that gave general advice on job search fundamentals: networking, interviewing and LinkedIn. Those were somewhat helpful, but their individual coaching was not.

When her networking broke down and no one was giving her referrals, she got only very general advice. When she doubted herself and expressed confusion about her career direction, they didn't know what to tell her. Later, when she got a job offer, her coach just told her to be sure to get paid what she's worth, since women are often underpaid. Sandra pushed too hard for more money, and the employer retracted the job offer. Ouch!

Joe's Story
I met a man I'll call Joe at a job networking meeting where he told the group, "I recommend that everyone hire a coach-if you can at all afford it. You get what you pay for."

Later, Joe told me about his experience with a church career ministry with a ridiculously-low fee. For just $100, he could have one hour-long meeting per week. That sounded great, so he paid the fee and made an appointment.

The hour quickly flew by as Joe told Coach #1 his situation. Joe was considering a rather tricky career move, and this coach understood the issues. They couldn't accomplish a lot in an hour, but Joe felt good about their rapport. But at the end of the meeting, the coach told Joe that since he volunteers only a few hours a week, and is a popular coach, he couldn't meet Joe again for four weeks.

 "Four weeks?" Joe groaned to himself as he made the appointment. In the meantime, he scheduled a meeting with Coach #2. Again, he spent most of his hour telling his story. The advice he got seemed formulaic and irrelevant to his situation. Joe decided she wasn't a good fit and asked about an appointment with Coach #3.

Joe's Meeting with Coach #2 Didn't Go Well

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Call us for a no-obligation conversation.  If you'd like, we can schedule a 2-hour Career Action Plan Meeting. We'll dig into your career situation and develop a solid plan to reach your goals. Call 847-673-0339 or send us an email.

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Once again, Joe spent most of his appointment covering the same ground he'd discussed with the other coaches. He thought Coach #3 was OK and met with him a second time, but he was eager for his second meeting with Coach #1. Sure enough, his meeting with Coach #1 was great, and Joe was feeling back on track-until the coach told him that he was going on vacation and was real busy with some projects at work. He couldn't meet Joe again for six weeks.No coach was available for the following week.

At this point, Joe did some calculations-and serious thinking. Yes, he was saving some money by getting services for almost nothing, but he had been making a six-figure salary. Every week of unemployment cost him over $2000-minus his meager unemployment benefits. He made a quick decision to hire a coach and discontinue the career ministry.

Here are just four of the changes Joe appreciated when he hired a coach. Access. No limits of one hour per week. After hiring a coach, Joe and his coach put the pedal to the metal and got his search moving-pronto.

Customization. The advice was customized to him and his needs.

Continuity. Joe wasn't passed from coach to coach, but consistently met with someone who knew him and his campaign.

Expertise. Instead of dealing with well-meaning volunteers, he was working with professionals who kept him on track and helped him through the tough issues.

A well-managed campaign can launch you swiftly into a new position. Poorly-managed campaigns can damage your self-esteem, professional credibility, lead to immense frustration, and cost you a lot of money.

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