Coaches, Consultants, Recruiters – Building a Job Search Support System

For Candidates

Nora Bright, Vice President at Bristol Associates: “I recently met Alyson Garrido through a mutual friend and was thrilled to have a strong career coach to whom we could refer candidates. We often find that job seekers are unclear on the difference between a career coach and executive recruiter — which is why it’s great to have someone we can send candidates to when they need guidance that goes beyond the scope of our work as executive recruiters. In this guest post, Alyson sheds some light on what a career coach does and how it’s different from the role of both recruiters and consultants.”

by Alyson Garrido, Career Coach

Friends, bosses, coworkers, therapists, mentors — the list of people who can help you in your job search can seem endless. When it’s time to enlist a professional, I see many misconceptions about what a coach, consultant and recruiter do. Each serves a unique and beneficial role in helping a candidate land their next role.

Coaches – According to the International Coach Federation, it is a coach’s responsibility to discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve, encourage self-discovery, elicit client-generated solutions and strategies and hold the client responsible and accountable. This is very surprising to most people, as coaches are often thought of as professionals who give direction and set goals on behalf of their clients. In pure coaching, the client is the expert and a coach helps the client reach their own conclusions through thoughtful questioning with the goal of forward movement.

A coach is best suited to someone who is comfortable setting an agenda and is looking for a partner, rather than a guide, to reach their goals. The client is the expert because coaching is about finding the right answers for the individual. In a job search, coaches are ideal for people who are considering a new career path, but aren’t sure what they would enjoy doing in their next position. Coaches help their clients move forward and clear roadblocks to success.

Working with a coach might be frustrating for someone who wants answers right away or wants to defer to an expert. Coaches are typically selected and paid by the client.

Consultants – Consultants are experts in their fields. In working with a consultant, a client is able to tap in to the consultant’s expertise and learn from the consultant’s experience. Consultants tend to be highly directive and have mastered best practices to help their clients get the superior results in a job search.  A consultant will provide answers to a client, as opposed to a coach’s approach of helping a client discover answers within themselves.

A consultant is ideal for someone who would like a guide in the job search process. A consultant may have a step-by-step process to get a job or provide a weekly goal for the client.

A consultant’s approach might not work for someone who would like to create their own agenda or employ a highly-customized solution. Consultants are typically selected and paid by the client.

Recruiters – Recruiters work for companies to fill open positions. Recruiters are often hired by a company because that company a) does not have the capacity or desire to take on the initial screening process to find the ideal candidate or b) because they would like to have an expert guide them through the search process. It is often the case that hundreds of people apply to a single online job posting. Through their strong relationships at companies, recruiters are able to hone in on the best candidates for a role and present them to the company. They have a clear understanding of the company’s needs and culture.

Job seekers with a proven track record of experience in an industry are well-served by working with recruiters who also serve that industry. Even those who are not looking for a new role might regularly hear from recruiters asking if they are interested in new opportunities. An ideal candidate for a recruiter is a person who is in a role and performing exceptionally while also entertaining serious inquiries to change companies. Even if you are not looking for a new job, it is a great idea to engage with recruiters when they reach out, as you might team up with them at a later date.

Recruiters are often juggling multiple roles at the same time and may not be in touch with candidates consistently. Recruiters ultimately work on behalf of their client companies as opposed to working on behalf of job seekers.

There is often overlap between the Coach, Consultant and Recruiter roles. In my practice, I provide coaching to help candidates identify their ideal goal, then take on a consulting role as we tailor resumes or craft elevator pitches and interview responses. The executive recruiters at Bristol Associates provide customized resume feedback and job search advice, when necessary.

It is important to understand what will be provided when you enlist the help of a professional to ensure that you are receiving the services that you need to help you move forward in your search.  Each has a unique skill set that can propel a search forward and position you to land an ideal role.


Alyson Garrido is a career coach based in Los Angeles. She partners with her clients to identify their strengths and create a path toward a more fulfilling career. 

Bristol Associates, Inc. is an executive search firm with over 50 years of excellence in recruiting nationwide. Bristol specializes in recruiting for the Casino Gaming; Hotels and Resorts; Travel, Tourism, and Attractions; Facilities and Concessions; Food and Beverage Manufacturing; Restaurant; Hospital and Healthcare; and Nonprofit industries.

If you’re interested in working with Bristol Associates, click here if you’re an employer or here if you’re a candidate.

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