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Do You Need a Career Coach?

When does it make sense to hire a career coach? If you want personalized help in resume writing and interview preparation, a coach can help. (Hausman's meetings with her coach included resume review, in addition to a Myers-Briggs personality test, as well as an analysis of Hausman's contacts to figure out whom she should be in touch with.) Coaches also specialize in "match," leading their clients to the best available opportunities that correspond with a job seeker's particular skill set.

The coaches' methods may vary, says Mook and the other coaches interviewed for this article, but coaching sessions are often conducted like talk therapy -- to allow job seekers to find their own answers about their strengths and ambitions in the labor market. Indeed, the ICF stresses that coaching can overlap with skills taught in executive and leadership coaching, much of which can touch on issues that arise even after hiring.

"Organizations have become leaner," with less room for in-house consultation, Anita Attridge, a New Jersey-based career coach with tells AOL Jobs in an interview. "There's more pressure to perform, and so people turn to a coach." She says she's helped clients on how to handle tension with coworkers.

"The process is relevant for everyone," says Next Step Partners' Melcher. "Assessing what are your past competencies to what you want to accomplish, making the right connections, finding out what's the right match, seeking professional fulfillment -- who does this not apply for?"

Coaches see their work as a second resort. "It's a process that makes sense when what you're doing isn't working," says Miriam Salpeter, a job search consultant since 1996, and owner of Keppie Careers, who blogs for AOL Jobs. Seek out a career coach, she says, "when you know financially you don't have time for the trial and error. Every day of not being employed has a cost."

What can you expect from a coach? Longtime job seekers stress that a career coach cannot change certain fundamentals of a bruising labor market. "People whose job searches have already been lengthy will get their hopes up too high if they utilize a career coach," warns Fran Hopkins, an AOL Jobs contributor who spent 34 months trying to find a full-time job. "If you're a baby boomer, all the resume tips and interviewing practice in the world can't change the fact that you were born between 1946 and 1964."

But according to advocates of career coaching, like Hausman, coaches can help guide clients to their niche in the workforce. The coach "kept telling me I needed to run my own show," Hausman says. Now her firm has its own office space in Manhattan, two employees, and revenue growth of 30 percent since last year. Her client list includes the architects working on the new pedestal at the Statue of Liberty, the towers above Carnegie Hall and artists working on public installations at New York City sites like Roosevelt Island. Working with a jobs coach played a "vital part" in her "transformation," says Hausman, helping her to realize her own strengths.

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