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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Career consultants: Helping you achieve career success

By Linda White
Special to The Sun

If you were serious about succeeding in your sport, you'd likely hire a qualified coach and commit to training. But when it comes to succeeding in your career, are you willing to make the same investment?

For many, hiring a career consultant only makes sense. Consider the job seeker who hasn't written a resume in a decade or someone who's unhappy in their current position and doesn't know where to turn for direction. Hiring a consultant costs money, but it can save them valuable time and alleviate stress.

"Successful people know they need to leverage professionals to achieve their goals," says Sharon Graham, executive director of Career Professionals of Canada (CPC) and principal consultant with Graham Management Group.

"Companies like Coca Cola or Pepsi pay big bucks to leverage marketing professionals. They know the return is going to surpass anything they would have achieved on their own, even though they know their product very well," she says. "Successful job seekers leverage the expertise of (career) professionals to achieve their career objectives."

Take a resume for example. If yours is going to land you an interview, it needs to stand out from the hundreds of others that may land on a prospective employer's desk.

"An individual may have a homemade resume that is quite nice and follows traditional formulas -- reverse chronological or functional -- but is not producing results," Graham says. "A professional resume writer would look into the individual's background and accomplishments in depth and create a strategic marketing document that is much more likely to produce actual interviews for the right kind of job."

Resume writers are just one in a list of career professionals committed to helping you achieve your goals:

  • Employment counsellors help you achieve your career and job search goals.
    Career Professionals of Canada

  • Career consultants help you clarify your career path and develop a map for your journey.

  • Interview coaches help you prepare for an interview and gain confidence.

  • Job search strategists work with you to come up with a plan of attack and follow through on it.

  • Leadership coaches help you develop skills so you can progress in your career and succeed in more progressive roles. They typically work one-on-one with executives or within an organization.

    The cost of hiring a career professional can vary dramatically from one type of consultant to another and even within a specialty. Generally, the price tag is determined by a consultant's experience -- the more experienced, the more expensive. Your qualifications also come into play. "Executives can expect to pay more for a resume than someone in mid-career, who can expect to pay more than a college grad," Graham says.

    Finding a career consultant isn't hard. "You can certainly find people in search sites such as Google and Yahoo, but you can also find people in the yellow pages using terms such as 'resume writing' or 'career consulting'," Graham says.

    CPC's website,, provides a free searchable listing of resume writers, career consultants and other Canadian career professionals. It offers a profile of each professional with contact information and links to their websites.

    "You can easily research services and compare apples to apples," Graham says. CPC also offers a free subscription to an e-newsletter designed to help job seekers achieve their goals.

    When selecting a career professional, be sure to do your homework (see box) and understand the service process. "Some resume writers, for example, work face-to-face while others work over the phone," Graham says. "Some might want to interview you and others might require you to fill out a questionnaire. You need to determine which you'd be more comfortable with."

    But remember, hiring a career professional doesn't guarantee success. "You need to make it happen by fully committing to the process," Graham says. "You need to show up eager to win the race."

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