Recruiter or Career Coach – Who You Gonna Call?

You needn’t go at a job search alone. Carving out your desired career is tough work and if you really want to get ahead, it makes sense to enlist the support of trained specialists who can guide you on your way.

Be wary though, the careers support market is saturated with recruiters and career coaches all wanting your business. It’s no different to the jobs market being saturated with candidates all vying for the same opportunities. Just as hiring managers have to go to great lengths to ensure the new hire is the best for their business, you need to make sure you’re working with the correct professionals, who will get you where you want to go.

Career coach or recruiter?

Given the abundance of free online information, is a career coach actually worth the money? Should you just apply for roles yourself directly, or work with a specialist recruiter?

The need for career support doesn’t discriminate age or demographic. Graduates who are novices in the corporate world need help just as much as older generations and those at their professional peak. The type of support needed though will differ, so you need to first identify what you are looking for and what you need.

So, who you gonna call? Here’s who to go to when you need:


If you need help identifying your true passions and the path you should be taking with your career, it’d be beneficial to seek the help of a career coach. While some career coaches specialise in getting you the job you already know you want, others specialise in helping you pinpoint what is right for you, and then coach you on how best to get there. Recruiters are specialists at finding suitable candidates for existing opportunities, not the other way around.


If you’re time short, paying for a career coach to dedicate themselves to your job search might be what you need. A lot of people feel disillusioned by recruiters who fail to win a job on their behalf. This tends to arise from the common misconception that their recruiter is their career coach, which is not true.  Recruiters are paid by their clients, not their candidates. While they probably do have the skills and expertise to provide a career coaching service, they are NOT career coaches. They are talent specialists, who’s clients pay them to operate in their best interests, not yours.

If it’s commitment you’re after, a career coach might be just what the doctor ordered. They measure their success on your success, not a fee from a client.

Industry introductions

If you have your heart set on a particular job or company, working with a recruiter who has pre-existing relationships within your preferred industry is probably what you need to help get your foot in the door. You will be able to leverage off their network, instead of having to go in cold on your own. Recruiters will be able to tell you what roles are live, and can thoroughly brief you and market your skills to their clients. Career coaches are great at tracking down opportunities, but probably can’t compete with a specialist recruiter’s network and market knowledge.

Specialist industry advice

The likelihood is that specialist recruiters will know more about what it actually takes to get ahead in your career than you do – their business is built around this expertise and they live and breath it every day. They see candidates just like you make excellent and poor moves, and will be able to coach you on how to get certain positions. A specialist recruiter could likely be the golden ticket to your desired step up.

To save money

For people who are looking for generic advice on best practice tips and industry-standard job application guidelines, career coaches probably aren’t needed. A conversation with a recruiter might be all you need to get you on track and give you a bit of free advice. Most recruiters will be happy to have a quick conversation with you, as you might teach them a thing or two as well about the industry they recruit in.

It’s also important to fully qualify a career coach if you do decide to spend the money . Make sure they have a reputable background in placing people into careers. There are a lot of shams out there; people who claim to be a career coaches after having read one book, and then charge for the delivery of information that is freely available online. The genuine ones will be able to talk you through their successes, credentials and case studies.

Confidence & motivation

Career coaches are most necessary for people who need a boost in confidence and help finding direction in their career. For people who don’t have a supportive network around them to fill them with confidence and motivation, a career coach can fill this void, which is something a Youtube video cannot do. Recruiters have to be selective about the candidates they work with, so as to fill their client’s brief. The likelihood is, unless you are in process with one of their clients, or the perfect fit for a role they are working on, they won’t have the time to spend with you to really boost your personal brand and confidence.

Interview and CV advice

Depending on what you’re after, a recruiter definitely can help you to learn the best practice interview and CV tips. A career coach will also offer specialised bespoke training, at a cost to you. However there is a lot of free information and resources online that it would be worth checking out first, before you spend time or money engaging a professional. You can probably get what you need here by a good Google search!

What are your thoughts – do you agree on the above? Let us know in the comments below!

By Phoebe Spinks

Account Executive at Link Humans, download our 12 Essentials of Employer Branding eBook now.