Do you need a career coach?

I am often surprised by how few people really understand how a career coach can help. With the recent recession, more and more people are hiring career coaches because they have lost their jobs or have gone through a life-altering situation such as surviving cancer.First off, it is important to note that a career coach does not find you a job. This means that he or she does not get on the phone and make calls for you to find job openings and usually cannot influence a hiring manager to interview you. In other words, a career coach does not perform the functions of a recruiter or headhunter.However, there are so many things that a career coach can do to assist you in your job search or, if need be, change careers.A coach can help you bolster or rebuild your confidence. As a cancer survivor, you have dealt with one of the most serious challenges of all – your health. All of your energy has been focused on your treatment, constant scans and doctors' visits and getting healthy. Because of this, it's likely that you have paid less attention to your career or professional development. This may cause you to feel insecure about your abilities and the value that you can bring to a new employer or even your existing employer after a leave of absence. Once your career coach learns about you and your work history and achievements, they can remind you of these accomplishments and help you to articulate the value you bring to an employer on paper and in an interview.Surviving cancer often changes your life priorities dramatically, including deciding what kind of work you choose to do moving forward. A career coach can help you with your overall career strategy as well as your job search planning. Hiring a professional to help you look at the big picture is very useful because you will be introduced to different perspectives that you may not have thought of on your own. It's also possible that you haven't looked for a job in a long time and many aspects of the job search have changed, such as using LinkedIn and the way you write your resume. A career coach can advise you on some of the most common issues cancer survivors face, such as how to handle questions about time gaps on your resume as well as potentially illegal or inappropriate questions you may be asked during an interview.Networking with people is the number one method for uncovering job opportunities, yet it can be an awkward skill to learn. A career coach can teach you the elements of effective networking, including how to meet new people and what to say to them, networking etiquette and different ways to cultivate relationships and follow-through to reap results. Your coach can share their contacts with you as well.Interviewing for a job can be nerve-wracking, and a skilled career coach can actually conduct a mock interview with you while helping you to come up with great responses to tough interview questions such as, "Tell me about yourself" or "What would your last manager say your biggest weaknesses are?"As you can see, the list of topics that a career coach can give you advice about is endless. Equally as important is the support you receive and an objective sounding board that you have with a career coach. Julie Jansen is a career coach in the greater New York City area. In addition to private career coaching services (juliejansen.net), she also serves as a pro bono career coach on cancerandcareers.org. Cancer and Careers is a non-profit resource that offers help balancing work and cancer during or after cancer treatment.