Opting to use a recruiter, job site, or network means using the same platforms everyone else is using. While these are all good options for finding a job and climbing your career ladder, they tend to be overused and crowded with your competition. When every person going in for a job interview is doing and saying all the same things as you are, it can be frustrating to figure out how your are going to stand out in the crowd — and get that job.

You may also be struggling with exactly what it is you really want to do — and maybe you are unsure if it is even possible to do what you really want to do. Instead of turning to the traditional channels and tools, you want a “hack” that will give you the unfair (for them, not you) advantage in your job search by setting you apart.

Today’s worker is anything but cookie cutter. There are the Millennials, the seasoned professionals, the telecommuter/freelance/outsource specialist crowd, and the returning-to-work group – just to name a few. Essentially, every worker is now unique with different career paths and individual situations and needs. The contemporary employer understands this new phenomena in the employee search, and is looking for you, specifically. But, how does he/she find you?

Individual Career Advice

This is where a career coach comes in and serves as that “hack” you’ve been looking for. A career coach looks at the various differences each individual has and determines how to leverage these qualities into a custom-tailored career solution that elevates one candidate above all others in terms of skills and capabilities that can bring to an employer.

A career coach can fast track the recruitment process by helping the professional prepare, build, and execute a strategy in a job market that is characterized by rapid change where one-size-fits-all career advice just doesn’t cut it.

A Jack (and Jill) of All Trades

Here’s what a career coach can do:

  • Put you through the paces to unlock your true potential by conducting assessment tests and utilizing other techniques that help them understand you better.
  • Determine, define, and decide career goals to focus on, enhancing your self-awareness.
  • Educate you about the current job market, which is especially beneficial if you have not been working or you are fresh out of school.
  • Recommend ways to articulate personal strengths and unique abilities to a prospective employer.
  • Identify areas of improvement in terms of communication, interview skills, and resume content in a constructive way.
  • Offer advice related to building further skills or knowledge, including recommending courses.
  • Improve networking abilities and serve as a connector.
  • Build your personal brand, including attributes and strategy to broadcast the brand.
  • Suggest career transition tactics if another opportunity is a better fit for your skills or provides a way to be more passionate about work; and
  • Offer emotional support during the job search experience that helps to boost confidence.

Just like a sports coach, a career coach looks at everything about you: the playing field, your jersey, your personal techniques, and then the coach looks at the competition to see what you personally will need to do to win the game. Only then does the coach come back with a game plan specifically designed to make the most of your strengths, while working on how to improve (or downplay) any weaknesses you may have picked up along your path. While a recruiter is there in the short-term to connect an employer with you, a career coach is there with you and in it (the personal connection) for the long haul. Essentially, you are not alone. The coach is there to see you all the way through the process, celebrating successes and providing sympathy, giving sound, unbiased advice – and will guide you through a new strategy should a job or path not work out.

Objective Advice

When looking for a career coach, you want to find someone who you feel you can connect with and that “gets you,” but you do not want them there to agree with everything you do and say. Trust me, you don’t want another “yes” man/woman here. Instead, to be truly effective with the benefits a coach will deliver, your career coach needs to remain democratic and objective rather than be your best friend. As you work together on career planning, you will definitely learn more about each other and build rapport that will  serve to improve the results of what a career coach can do for you.