Should an effective Career Consultant have experienced Unemployment to be Empathetic to his clients?

Recently, after spending close to 15 years, working with Executives, Vice Presidents, Directors and Senior Management who are in career transition as a result of downsizing, layoffs, moving to a new city or other personal situations, I reflected whether my own experiences with unemployment, have made me a more empathetic Career Consultant.

Growing up in industrial Cape Breton, in the province Nova Scotia in the 1970′s and 80′s, I witnessed the hardship that unemployment can have on families and the community. Although, my father was a dentist, who was self-employed, I observed first hand the impact that layoffs had on everyone – either directly or indirectly as a result of layoffs. The town of Sydney, Nova Scotia had one major employer, the Sydney Steel Plant.

When layoffs were announced on the tv or radio news, I knew immediately how bad the news really was, based on the look on my father’s face. Announcements of more unemployment meant that more people would have difficulty paying their bills. Unemployed men and women, no longer had insurance benefits, and would be forced to make cutbacks including their ability and willingness to obtain dental treatment. My father’s income was often affected negatively by the layoffs.

Fast forward to when I graduated from my Bachelor of Commerce degree at the age of 22 years. After completing my studies, I moved to Toronto. Without a network in Toronto, I was challenged to develop the skills that were required to develop the career search tools that would help me to launch my career. Personally, I was experiencing unemployment for the first time. I prepared my resume and cover letter, sent them to many companies and organizations but I was frustrated when I received many negative responses. There was little support that was available or that I was able to access to help me. Needless to say, I experienced many of the emotions that many people in career transition feel.

As time went on, I, myself,  became an Employment Consultant, worked for corporate career transition organizations, community colleges, as well as other community based organizations. Through extensive training and being mentored by experts in the field, I developed the skills and competencies to be a Career / Employment Consultant.

Like any business, there have been highs and lows. Sometimes, business was busy and sometimes not. During the slow times, I was reminded of many of the emotions – including disappointment and stress – that I experienced when I moved to Toronto.

As an Employment Consultant, I have been on site to provide counsel to clients when they have received the news of a downsizing. I have observed the roller coaster of emotions that these clients have experienced from hearing the news of a layoff through their search and until they secured their new employment.

I have the skills, capabilities and characteristics to be an effective Employment Consultant.
Having experienced many of the challenges that my clients face, I naturally have empathy for their situations. I understand the challenges and range of emotions that they are experiencing as they search to secure work in their respective fields. From an online dictionary, empathy is the “Identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives”.

Empathy is a key requirement to be an Employment Consultant. He / she should be able or to do his best to understand the challenges, frustrations, difficulties and highs/lows of the work search.

Should an effective Career Consultant have experienced Unemployment in order to be Empathetic to his clients?

It is not a requirement that a Career Consultant have experienced Unemployment. It is, however, an asset.

As a result of observing the effects of unemployment on my clients and my own personal experiences with it, I can share with you that I am a very empathetic Employment Consultant.


Do I need an Executive Recruiter or a Career Consultant?

Is there a Difference between an Executive Recruiter or a Career Consultant?

In the years that I have worked as Career Consultant, I have been asked many times by clients in Canada, and from other countries, if I as a Career Consultant, can find and secure them jobs.

I have told them many times that I am not a Recruiter, rather I am like a personal Career Coach, but I call myself a Career Consultant

I have spent a lot of time fielding questions from potential clients.  When they look on my web site or on my LinkedIn profile, they say they are interested in my services.

When I explained to them that there is a cost to my services, sometimes, they have indicated that recruiters do not charge for their services.

In a discussion with another Career Consultant recently about this, the opinion was shared with me that perhaps in other countries, Career Consultants are not common practice. So at present, it may not be the practice to hire consultants to support them or provide expertise to them. It is something that they may not be used to – the idea of hiring a Career Coach or Career Consultant to work collaboratively with them and provide the support to them in their career search.

Is it only Internationally Educated Professionals who are reluctant to use Career Consultants?

No. There are many people who think that they never need consultants or professionals to support them or provide expertise to them. Some people, rather do their own taxes rather than pay an Accountant who has the knowledge and expertise of the tax laws and ways that they can save money in the long-term. Some people will try to save themselves money from using lawyers, plumbers, electricians and other professionals in specific fields by doing the work themselves, only in the end spending more time – and often wasting their time, efforts and even more money.

None of us, as much as we would like to be, can be specialists in all areas. In the same way, we need the expertise of professionals to help us with our taxes, we need specialists to help prepare our career research tools – resumes, cover letters, and interview skills – and to provide advice and strategies to us in making changes in our careers or finding new jobs.

I know first hand the importance of securing the support of Career Consultants. Before I developed the expertise as a Career Consultant, I, myself, sought out the support of Career Professionals to help me when I finished university and moved to Toronto. Even today, I appreciate speaking to other Career Consultants to get their opinions, guidance and support.

Other people think why would anyone pay for the services of a Career Consultant – after all, is it not the role of a Recruiter to secure a job for those job seekers?

I do recommend that my clients register with Recruiters but job seekers should not expect that this is the only action that is necessary to secure work in their professional fields. According to statistics, only 10 – 15 % (statistics may vary depending upon the source) of job seekers in Canada, actually find jobs through Recruiters.

The majority of other people secure new jobs and work opportunities from conducting effective work search campaigns through making effective messages in e-mails and LinkedIn messages to employers, implementing a very good work search campaign, networking and searching the so-called hidden job market.

Conducting a work search by oneself can be very difficult. By working with a Career Consultant, he/she will be in a better position to ensure that you do everything in your power to maximize your efforts and save you time in your work search. Even in the best of economic times, there can be competition for finding a job. A little money for a Career Consultant can help you to increase your probability of success and make the investment worth it.