Canada Markets open in 9 hrs 3 mins

Should you hire someone to help in your job hunt?

·Marlene Skaff
Why You Should Be Getting Ready to Ask for a Raise

The economy’s jobless rate is dropping, but that’s little comfort to working or unemployed Canadians who are hitting a career wall or looking for that next challenge.

With the plethora of free job-hunting resources and services (think Service Canada, community outreach programs, online job, and networking sites such as Workopolis and Linked In, both of which charge for upgrades), why pay someone to help you on the road to employment?

Career and professional development counsellors say it’s all about putting someone in your corner to get you in job-hunting shape, much like hiring a personal trainer to help you reach peak physical condition.

“Career decisions can be stressful, emotional, and sometimes financially taxing. When hiring me, clients gain a trusted partner and confidant,” Canadian career strategist Maureen McCann, founder and owner of ProMotion Career Solutions, says in an email interview from Belgium, where she is temporarily living with her family.

McCann charges on a sliding scale, with students paying less than professionals. Developing a resume customized for the client and tailored for each specific employer, for instance, begins at $495.

Regard the cost as an investment in your future, she says, giving this example:

“Let’s say someone is making $100,000 annually and loses their job. Now let’s say it takes them 18 months to find a new job. That’s $150,000 in lost revenue. The numbers don’t have to be that big and this is a very simplistic example, but you can see that even six months of not working – and I won’t even mention the blow to one’s self-esteem and confidence - would result in a loss of $50,000 in revenue to that person. The question then becomes, ‘What would a job seeker be willing to invest to help themselves shorten their time on the market?’”

Eileen Chadnick, a Toronto-based certified coach in personal and professional development, says deciding whether to go it alone in your job search depends on how resourceful you are, because it takes “blood, sweat and tears.” A professional can help you look at things that you never would have considered, adds Chadnick, principal of Big Cheese Coaching.

She first guides clients to get a handle on their “inner compass, really getting to know yourself so you can choose appropriately, get the right strength and your values, needs and must-haves aligned. For example, if you want a lot of freedom in your work, you might not be able to work in a particular role.”

Both McCann and Chadnick maintain the privacy of their clients. But one of McCann’s clients - who didn’t want his name used - agreed to share his experiences using her help in securing another career after he leaves Canada's Armed Forces in the next three or so years.

The military officer from Gatineau, Que., turned to McCann for her expertise - including helping him develop a resume that translates his current work into civilian terms - early in his job search.

"When you start looking for work, you wonder, 'Where do I start.' It goes back to, 'What do I want to do?'" he says, noting that he’s gearing his search to a managerial position in communications. "I also needed a resume that was able to open doors.”

He adds: "People like Maureen are not magicians – you have to get involved with them early on for them to assist you; it can take up to 18 months to really get a good job." Since he finished working with her for about two months, at a cost of about $1,000, he has been offered a few jobs but is still looking.

McCann also suggests these free or inexpensive job-hunting vehicles and tools:

Career transition support
Leaving a job? Take any career transition support – webinars, video tutorials, one-on-one meetings - offered by your outgoing employer. “If you don’t like the agency you’re given, try to negotiate a career professional of your choosing, but this must be done before you sign off on your severance.”

Employment centres
Federal, provincial, and local employment centres are available throughout Canada. In most instances, you need to be underemployed or unemployed to receive free job search-related services.

Campus career centres
For recent college or university graduates, and sometimes even alumni.

Web resources
LinkedIn, company websites, websites of career professionals, blog posts and other online tools. “The more informed a job seeker is about their industry and their local labour market, the better,” McCann says.

Public libraries with job search resources
A free way to get access to business and career books, magazines, newspapers and digital media.