For the past year, since the publication of In Search of the Fun-Forever Job: Career Strategies That Work, I’ve been answering readers’ questions on the Ask Ellis pages of the book website. There are some questions I’m asked so frequently, I wanted to choose one of the most popular, and the answer, here.
Question: I'm out of work and short on funds. Is it worth spending the money to see a career advisor?
I've been out of work for six months. I've always been good (successful!) at search, and have been resourceful enough to figure out the best techniques. Yet, something's not working this time. I've been told over and over that I should find a good career advisor to help me, but I hate spending the money during this time when I don’t have much to spend, and don't quite know what to expect from an advisor.
Answer: You’ll gain perspective and a whole lot more
This one is always a bit uncomfortable to answer, because it's tough to avoid appearing self-serving. Obviously, I think seeing an advisor is a great way to help you get through this difficult time--otherwise, I would've chosen a different career myself. (Sometimes, though, there have been times when I have told prospective clients that they might benefit more from consulting with professionals in another field.)
Okay, that's out of the way, and I'll be as objective as possible.
My major reason for suggesting a career advisor is about the emotional aspects--search is isolating. You've been separated from your routine, from a part of your identity, and from people you may have liked. Left on your own, you ruminate. You try to interpret every aspect of the search, for example:
- Why is this person not calling back?
- Why isn't my resume working the way resumes should?
- Why is it five days since they said they'd call and they had promised three?
- Have I made the right choice in what I'm seeking?
- Maybe it's time for a radical change?
- And, my favorite: Why are so many people so incredibly rude during this process? In the last interview, they told me I was the lead candidate! And I’ve been unable to contact them again. Total radio silence.
You go round and round in these thoughts (and so many others), don't get anywhere, and start to over-think every aspect. Some people end up reworking their resumes 10 or 12 times, almost always a serious waste of energy. Sometimes, the result of all the rumination is to make bad career decisions, just to avoid the anxiety of the process itself.
If you have a significant other or family or both, that will probably add to the stress, no matter how supportive friends and family may be. After all, if there’s a significant other, for example, that person is just as stressed about the situation as you are. Maybe more.
What's lacking here is perspective, and I think that's where the experienced listener and advisor play a most critical role. It always amazes me that at the end of a successful client experience, one of the comments I have heard the most over the years is--"You really understood what I was going through."
The comments are not usually about the technical aspects of the transition, even if we spent several meetings reviewing networking, resume, and all the rest.
An experienced consultant will be knowledgeable about the (over-hyped) significance of resumes, will help with decisions about appropriate targets, will work with interview presentation and content, will teach the value of high-touch relationship building, and, I hope, will understand and show the value of social media and social intelligence in the process.
As for the money--if it helps you, it's worth it. Don’t think about the immediate cost; it’s all about the big picture and achieving the desired overall result. Another perspective is that it’s an investment--in you.
For a quick course on networking, pick up my Ebook, Networking: How to Make the Connections You Need