Career counselors and recruiters have become an increasingly popular choice of job seekers in recent years—and of employers. The declining job market and correspondingly high level of applicants for many positions have made experienced and effective counselors and recruiters into important brokers of positions and employees.
Career counselors and recruiters not only save time by going through the arduous process of searching for jobs and sifting through applicants; they can also offer professional advice to help applicants and employers find just what they are looking for and sell themselves more effectively.
You may become confused about the difference between a recruiter and a career counselor. That ad that caught your attention was put there by a recruiter, sometimes called a headhunter or placement specialist, who is either an employee of the company looking for new and qualified employees or a third party contracted by the company to help with the search. In the latter case, there is usually a fee involved, but this is typically paid by the hiring company, not the job seeker.
If you go to a career counselor or career coach, you will probably handle the cost, unless this is an outplacement service provided to you by your former employer. A career counselor will not help you find a job, but will help you figure out what kind of job you should be looking for. If you're confused about the job market, a career counselor can help you clarify career goals and point you in the right direction.
But be careful what kind of contract you sign. Some counselors insist on being paid up-front, with fees as high as $2,000–$15,000. Opt for a counselor who has Master Career Counselor credentials, is licensed by state counselor licensure boards, and charges fees by the hour. One resource to help you find a counselor is the National Career Development Association.
Here are some tips for working effectively with recruiters and counselors:
Respond to inquiries if a recruiter or counselor reaches out to you, even if you're not interested in the position. You want to stay on their radar screen and make a good impression because there may be another position in the future that you are interested in.
Stay in touch to build rapport and remain at the top of their mind when new opportunities emerge.
Be candid about your job expectations and goals—what you are interested in as well as what you're not interested in.
Don't double dip. If you've been working with one recruiter on a particular position and another one contacts you, be up-front about your existing relationship.
Feel free to tell recruiters and counselors that you want them to respect your confidentiality. While most operate under that assumption anyway, it's best to make sure you are both on the same page from the outset.