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Work can feel like a dead end. Maybe you’ve been longing for a new challenge but feel trapped in your current job. Maybe you’d like to break into a new field but don’t know-how. Perhaps you’ve been job searching but can’t find anything that seems to fit. In all of these situations, a career coach or a mentor might be able to help you gain some clarity on how to move forward. A career coach or mentor is someone you can call on at any stage in your career, which is exactly why every job professional should consider this kind of support. But what’s the difference between a career coach and a mentor and how can they help your job search?

Career Coach vs. Mentor—Which Do You Need?

A career coach is usually a paid professional.

A career coach is typically a professional that you’ll pay to provide you with advice and support for your current and future career paths. They can help with things like:

  • Career planning
  • Resume building
  • Interviewing
  • Salary negotiating
  • Coaching
  • And more

A mentor is a work or industry colleague.

These are work or industry friends who have more experience than you do but who is willing to share that experience with you. The mentor isn’t paid but instead acts as a kind of professional advisor for your career path. A mentor is often a long-term professional relationship—someone you can turn to often for years to come.

Because these two types of resources serve different purposes you may work with both simultaneously or at different stages in your career. But how do you know which one you need?

  • You’d probably seek out a career coach if you’re looking to switch industries.
  • You may use a mentor if they are in your industry but just further up the chain of command.
  • Both can provide you with interviewing, branding, and resume advice.

Career coaches can help you better market yourself to employers.

They’re good at pulling the best elements of your professional career and helping you tailor your “pitch” to employers to highlight that experience in the best possible way.

A mentor can share what skills were needed to move up the ladder in your industry.

Did your mentor go back to school or seek out additional credentialing to get to the top? What social and networking activities were beneficial to their career growth? Can they recommend books for you to read and other professionals for you to network with? A mentor can introduce you around in their social circles as an up and comer in the field. Depending on the industry, that can be hugely beneficial.

Looking for a Career Coach or Mentor?

Interestingly, many of these same benefits can be found by working closely with a Stellar Staffing recruiter. Our recruiting staff works closely with candidates by reviewing resumes, providing coaching for interviews, and sharing the inside story on great companies that are looking for talent. These services are free to candidates. If you’re struggling to find your next career move, consider giving us a call.

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