Think twice how you spend money on your job search, executive recruiter Todd Porter warns.

This is an insightful comment that was left in response to Job Search Coach Rita Ashley's article 7 Rules To Find the Right Job Search Coach for You here on JobMob.

1) Job search coaches

Let me comment in general on both getting a coach and paying for help in recruiting. In most cases, this type of money spent is money down the drain. Everyone should use mentors and people they can learn from but actually paying for services normally results in little success.

Car salesman

I believe strongly in coaches but I have not seen one that can guarantee they will get you a job. This is not to say you won’t get results from paying but normally the price is more than the value. Let’s say you want to start running to get back in shape. Would you go out and pay $1,000 a month for a coach? Probably not. Is it worth $20 or $40 to engage a coach at the local gym for a couple of months? Probably and if not it’s a minimal loss. Would you read books or magazines on running and ask friends who run? Probably.

The major problem with coaching is the ease of entry. Anyone can become a coach (like they can become a recruiter). Just because they have a title doesn’t mean they know how to do the job. Some people would pay $1,000 a month for a coach. I suggest their probability of success would be directly tied to their ability and desire to compete. So when you look at these kind of services, cost is not always a determinant of how successful you will be. Don’t overpay for what you can get cheaper.

There are loads and loads of areas where you can get free advice and job search help. Most is community-based. The majority of people would benefit greatly from this information and service, as much or more than services they have to pay for.

2) Resume writing

One area you might cautiously pay for is resume writing. Even with this, there is a threshold of a reasonable price. I know two guys that do resumes for money. One charges $300 and the other $1,000. They both have a lot of customers. I can tell you the one that does it for $300 is better (in my opinion) than the guy who does it for $1,000 but that second guy has a great sales pitch.

3) Recruiters

Quick word on recruiters who can help in your job search with advice and coaching.

Recruiters will work with good candidates in their area for free, because our customers pay us. Recruiters will not work with everyone because our time is limited. We need to work with the ones we feel we can place and the kind of individuals our clients want to hire.

If you are having trouble finding a recruiter to work with, it’s because you don’t have the skills or background the recruiter's customer wants.


I would just suggest “buyer beware” in ALL cases where someone wants you to pay them for job search help.

About the author

Executive Recruiter Todd PorterTodd Porter started H.T. PROF Executive Search in 1997.  Located in Atlanta and Boston, the company recruits primarily for Israeli companies hiring anywhere in the U.S.  He can be reached directly at TPJOB [at] HTPROF [dot] COM.

If you liked this article, you'll also enjoy An Open Letter to the Recruiters of the World From Job Seekers Everywhere.

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Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. rita ashley

    One of the biggest challenges of being a job search coach (or a recruiter, for that matter) is the credibility factor. Since, as the article mentions, there are no barriers to entry, anyone can become a coach. Which is why I wrote the article about how to vet a coach. Do they have industry experience? References that are similar to you? Years of experience in the employment sector? A visible track record?

    My clients get hired. That isn’t a guarantee, it is a track record. If you enter into a coaching relationship with realistic expectations and are willing to commit, a coach can help you get a better job faster. Coaches don’t get you a job; they teach you how to get a job.

    Clients who follow my advice learn to create a compelling job search based on their skills and style. We personalize the coaching process and leverage their skills and increase their network. Many satisfied clients retain me as a career coach to support their efforts on the job.

    Don’t dismiss all coaches because so many are unqualified; instead, refine your method of qualifying them. Do not be seduced by certifications, look instead for qualifications. Mine, for instance include an MS in Counseling, and MS in Psychology, a career as a technology executive and over two decades focused on recruiting for technology companies. I do not have a certification; I do have a long history helping executives and technology leaders get hired. My techniques are field tested.

  2. Moshe Egel-tal, CSPP

    I would have to agree, mostly with Todd’s analysis. Nice piece Todd.
    My only addition is regarding recruiters: Many times the candidate is over qualified and since the client has set a ceiling price on hiring, this candidate won’t get the job. I have found that most recruiting agencies in Israel to be very unprofessional in that their first question to you is “what are your salary expectations ?”
    This isn’t fair play. Does the recruiter have a real position to offer ? Well then, make the offer. I guarantee that I will tell you if it’s right for me or not. Also, when posting job requirements: a recruiter cannot expect to get someone with all the requirements and experience and pay a entry level position’s pay.
    Another annoying thing is the abundance in recent years of cheap, non-professional employees in many sectors due to new immigrants. This causes employers to seek cheaper employees, but in some cases, like Finance or Payroll positions, which are sensitive areas, it would be better to pay a bit more and get someone qualified, rather than be hiring and firing again and again. If the recruiters are able to convince their clients of this, everyone would come out on the winning side.

  3. Colleen Aylward

    Todd, you know there is some truth to the fact that anyone can hang a shingle and be an instant coach OR Recruiter, since there is no governing board or Standards committee for either. This has been the case for recruiting firms like yours and mine for 50 years. But to globally dys the majority of job search coaches seems a bit strange.

    You say you believe strongly in coaches, but then turn around to say that you don’t know any coaches who find people jobs. This is a bit like saying you don’t know any baseball coaches that guarantee a Pitcher will win a game.

    A coach is a coach. Job Search Coaches do not find people jobs. The coach’s job is to assist the job seeker in the search. Many people coming out of jobs today were not fired for incompetence or laid off due to being the “bottom 10%” of the workforce. The state of the economy is putting executives on the street who have never had to look for a job, never had to hone a digital resume and cover letter, or build a Linkedin Profile, or search job boards, let alone worry about “personal branding” or “elevator pitches” or create a search “strategy”. They’ve always been recruited or hand-picked by former managers, or just naturally landed in jobs. Today’s market is a different animal.

    If you find a good coach, like Rita, you’re lucky. She’s a drill sergeant — a communication specialist — an internet guru — a qualified professional from the school-of-hard-knocks plus a few Masters degrees who worked for major employers for years as a recruiter and organizational consultant. She has a network of executives who follow her — still.

    I’ve owned a retained search firm since 1992, and have recently flipped our business model a bit to accommodate those client employers who have suddenly become job candidates. Part of this new business model incorporates the aid that executives need to launch their search quickly and professionally with the best odds for results. Having seen Rita’s results, I often share these executive candidates with her, and hope that recruiters like yourself would see the value in both of our efforts.

    After all, if we don’t all work to help get executives back into management jobs, none of us will have employer clients who need recruiting firms.

  4. Pingback: Todd Porter: Think twice how you spend money on your job search. | CompletE-Résumé

  5. Jeannine Wirth

    I love to help people too and feel that a job search coach can be extremely helpful to some people. The investment is usually less than one month salary and well worth it to find a job sooner than they would have found on their own. A career coach not only helps people find a job sooner but supports them through the process, as an accountability partner for action and champion for success.

  6. Pam Miller

    Todd, I’m pretty sure I’ve read this same post before but maybe you’re recycling it for some reason.

    Regardless, friends and business associates are great for leads and referrals, but not for coaching. Well, not true, most friends aren’t honest enough to be good coaches and don’t know how to properly approach the various associated topics. They view the world from their own lens, and haven’t observed the hiring process from the C-level exec point-of-view.

    I hire third-party professionals for a reason: I want their objectivity and their advice, not because I need another friend.

  7. Jacob Share

    Good conversation here.

    If a job search coach has a proven track record of success, that pretty much speaks for itself and then it’s just a question of making sure the service will be provided in a way that matches the job seeker’s expectations, as Rita says in her past article. That said, I don’t see how anyone can disagree with ‘buyer beware’; it’s up to the job seeker to make the right decision by asking about track record in the first place.

    The notion of expectations is very important. If a job seach coach is only going to coach, make that clear so that the job seeker doesn’t become disgruntled when a job doesn’t materialize out of thin air.

    Moshe- wise bosses who have money will always look farther, pay more, and make a better effort to retain good people they’ve invested in. Unfortunately, I just described a sliver of all the bosses out there. The best counterpoint is build a stronger personal brand so that more people appreciate the job seeker’s value, quicker.

    Jeannine- you make an excellent point that good paid job search services pay for themselves by finding you a salary quicker than if you done things differently.

    Pam- this article is a reprint of a comment of Todd’s that I chose to ‘recycle’ as you say. I think that being coached by friends can only go so far because people are sometimes reluctant to criticize (even when it’s constructive). With business associates, it depends on what kind of relationship you have with them. They probably wouldn’t be able to coach more than a session or two.

  8. Bob Zelken

    Senior business executive experienced in managing high performance teams to develop strong client relationship and achieve bottom line results. Expertise in delivering real estate and professional services across national and global teams. Adept at translating strategic objectives into tactical plans, and establishing performance metrics that effectively measure business results. In depth transactional acumen, having represented owners and users of office, industrial and retail assets.

    Bob Zelken’s Specialties:
    • New business development: Positioning, presenting, and winning new business.

    • Client relationship management: Leading high performance teams to translate strategic goals into tactical plans.

    • Portfolio Strategy: Developing business solutions to reduce costs, increase productivity and gain competitive advantage by optimizing real estate portfolios.

    • Negotiated more than 1,000 real estate transactions/ 20 million square feet / $2.5 Billion in financial consideratioin.

  9. Kate

    I don’t know anyone who has money to spend on job search coaches. They’re using govt help just to print their resumes.

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