portfolio career

by Alyson Garrido, Career Coach

Q: I am starting a job search and the number of resources available have overwhelmed me. There are coaches, consultants, recruiters, mentors, CV writers and courses, to name a few. How do I differentiate and decide on the best resources to help me in my job search?

A: Friends, bosses, coworkers, coaches, mentors: the list of people who can help you in your job search can seem endless. When it’s time to seek outside support to find your next move, it can be hard to find the right resource. Each option serves a unique and beneficial role in helping a candidate land their next role. In my answer, I’ll provide more explanation around the type of support you can expect to receive. I’ll also cover the pros and cons of using the resources you mentioned in your question.


According to the International Coach Federation, it is a coach’s responsibility is to discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve. Further, they encourage self-discovery, elicit client-generated solutions and strategies and hold the client responsible and accountable.  This is very surprising to most people. Coaches are often thought of as professionals who give direction and sets goals on behalf of their clients. In pure coaching, the client is the expert and a coach helps the client reach their own conclusions through thoughtful questioning with the goal of forward movement.

A coach is best suited for someone who is comfortable setting an agenda and is looking for a partner, rather than a guide in reaching their goals. The client is the expert because coaching is about finding the right answers for individual. In job search coaches are ideal for people who are considering a new career path, but aren’t sure what they would enjoy doing in their next position. Coaches help their clients move forward and clear roadblocks to success.

Working with a coach might be frustrating for someone who wants answers provided right away or wants to defer to an expert. Coaches are typically selected and paid by the client.


Consultants are experts in their fields. In working with a consultant, a client is able to tap in to the consultant’s expertise and learn from the consultant’s experience. They tend to be highly directive and have mastered best practices to help their clients get the best results in a job search.  A consultant will provide answers to a client, as opposed to a coach’s approach of helping a client discover answers within themselves.

For someone who would like a guide in the job search process, a consultant is ideal  A consultant may have a step-by-step process to get a job or a provide incremental goals for the client.

A consultant’s approach might not work for someone who would like to create their own agenda or employ a highly customised solution. Consultants are typically selected and paid by the client.


Recruiters work with companies to fill open positions. Companies often hire recruiters because they do not have the capacity or desire to take on the initial screening process in looking for the ideal candidate. Through their strong relationships at companies, recruiters are able to hone in on the best candidates for a role and present the candidate to the company. Recruiters have a clear understanding of the company’s needs and culture.

Job seekers with a proven track record of experience in an industry are well served by working with recruiters who also serve that industry. Even those who are not actively looking for a new role might regularly hear from recruiters asking if they are interested in new opportunities. An ideal candidate for a recruiter is a person who is in a role and performing exceptionally while also entertaining serious inquiries to change companies. Even if you are not looking for a new job, it is a great idea to engage with recruiters when they reach out, as you might team up with them at a later date.

Recruiters are often juggling multiple roles at the same time and may not be in touch with candidates consistently. Companies retain and pay for recruiters.

CV Writers

CV writers are typically certified professionals who support those across industries in branding and marketing themselves in job search. Many will provide cover letters and LinkedIn writing in addition to CVs. Those seeking an updated or new resume will typically answer a questionnaire from the CV writer which allows the writer to construct your document and present your accomplishments in the best possible light.

CV writers are ideal for those who do not have the time or desire to construct these important documents themselves. This is because getting the attention of hiring managers and recruiters can be achieved by working with people who know the appropriate formatting and verbiage. It also allows tapplicants with time constraints, or difficulty creating the ideal document, to outsource this task to an expert.

It is important to remember that, while CVs are very important, they are just one part of job search. Having a fantastic CV will not take the place of building your network or speaking clearly about your qualifications. Therefore, don’t rely solely on your resume to get your foot in the door of a new organisation.

Clients are the ones who typically select and pay for CV writers.


For most people, mentors are in the same industry and have several years of additional experience to the mentee. Mentors can provide advice and guidance in navigating a similar career path to their mentee. They will also have advanced knowledge of their industry norms and best practices for job search.

Ideally, one’s mentor is the personification of their career goals. They will be able to share their experiences and lessons learned throughout their career. Mentors can also regularly make beneficial introductions and recommend action items to push their mentee’s career forward.

A mentee typically leads these relationships, as the mentor is a busy professional with competing priorities. In order to get the most out of these relationships, the mentee must keep in touch regularly and come prepared with thoughtful questions to help their mentor provide the appropriate guidance. Mentors may be paid professionals through an organisation or could be organically formed relationships.

Online Courses

There is a sea of online content on every topic under the sun. You can easily find courses and webinars on job search, career change, interviewing techniques and salary negotiation. LinkedIn partners with Lynda.com, which has heaps of valuable content. This is free for many public library cardholders and those subscribed to LinkedIn Premium.

Motivated people who are ready to work on their own will find online courses a good fit. In order for courses to be effective, a job seeker must have the time and desire to complete assignments and do the work involved. Courses are a great first step to see if you need to enlist a professional, or can work alone.

Before purchasing a course, it is important to check the reviews and the instructor’s online profile. Many free courses are light on action items and they focus on encouraging the student to buy an upgraded service. In other words, the course is just an advertisement for a more expensive product. Learn as much as you can before you buy and try to get referrals or references to ensure you’ll receive value from an online course.

Mix it up

There is often overlap between many of these roles. For example, in my practice, I provide coaching to help candidates identify their ideal role. I then take on a consulting role as we tailor CVs or craft elevator pitches and interview responses. Many recruiters also provide customised resume feedback when necessary.

It is important to understand what will be provided before investing time and/or money into your job search to ensure that you are receiving the services that you need to help you move forward in your search.  Each option provides value that can propel a search forward and position a candidate to land an ideal role.



Alyson Garrido is passionate about helping women advance their careers and find jobs they will enjoy. As a career coach, she partners with her clients to identify their strengths and create a path toward a more fulfilling career. Alyson provides support around interview preparation, performance reviews and salary negotiations. She ensures that her clients present themselves in the best possible light. Learn more or book a session with Alyson by visiting www.alysongarrido.com.

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