Resume-Magnifying-GlassWhen you look at what services a particular career professional lists, it can be like wading through mud. Without a guide it can be hard to tell just what, exactly, is the difference between “career transition coaching” and “career advancement coaching.” These are valuable services without a doubt, but a better explanation of each service entails can make it easier to compare between two career professionals you might be considering — as well as ensuring that you really are getting exactly what you need to move your career forward. This list will guide you through the wide variety of career management services and help you refine your search.

You may find that different career management services come in different varieties. A recruiter, for instance, may only work with one type of professional or individuals who have reached a certain career level. An image consultant might only work with one gender or a specific age group. In this list, such repackaged services haven’t been broken out of their overall service.* They are available, though, and can provide an additional level of help in managing your career.

Career Coaching and Consulting

  • Career development coaching — Assessing an individual’s current career, developing a plan to help an individual meet his or her career goals, and providing guidance on carrying through such a plan.
  • Networking coaching — Educating an individual on how to find networking connections, developing conversation skills, and providing networking advice.
  • Career transition coaching — Also known as job search coaching. Educating applicants on job search strategies, practicing interview techniques, researching employers, and developing an overall plan for a job search.
  • Life/personal coaching — Discussing both work and home issues in an effort to find balance and handle obstacles.
  • Job negotiations consulting/coaching — Setting goals for an applicant’s negotiations for salary, benefits, and other job factors, as well as educating an applicant in negotiation techniques.
  • Career advancement coaching — Assessing an individual’s current career, setting goals for the future, and developing a plan that will allow that individual to reach his or her career goals. (The main difference between this and career development coaching lies within the process: career advancement coaching is goal-oriented, while development coaching spends more time on the journey.)
  • Vocation/occupation coaching — Discussing an individual’s interest and talents to discover a vocation and clarify a career objective.
  • Business etiquette coaching — Educating a professional on business etiquette as well as the manners necessary to appear professional in social situations.
  • Leadership development coaching — Developing leadership abilities and attitudes of the individual.
  • Retirement coaching — Developing plans for an individual’s personal, work, leisure, and spiritual futures in retirement.

Career Assessments

  • Career assessment — Testing to determine an applicant’s interest and skills. Interpreting such results to predict how suited an applicant is for a particular career.
  • Leadership assessment — Testing to determine an applicant’s aptitude for leadership and determine in which areas the applicant needs to improve.
  • Talent/skills assessment — Testing to determine an applicant’s skill level. Some employers require a relevant skills assessment for certain positions.

Career Marketing Materials

  • Resume writing — Writing, formatting, and editing a new or existing resume. May also write cover letters and customize resume to specific job openings.
  • Resume assessment — Reviewing resumes and making suggestions for improvement; suggestions can range from format to content.
  • Resume coaching/training — Educating professionals on how to write and update resumes, as well as how to tailor one’s resume to a specific job.
  • Cover letter writing — Writing either a basic cover letter that an applicant can customize for each position or writing cover letters targeted to each position.
  • Online resume posting — Posting resumes to online job boards. Can also include distributing resumes to recruiters and human resource departments.
  • Web portfolio development — Creating a website to host an individual’s portfolio which will reflect his or her career skills. Can include uploading portfolio pieces as well as website maintenance.
  • Social profiles setup — Creating and completing profiles for an individual on one or more social networking websites. May include updating profiles as needed.
  • Online identity strategy — Developing a cohesive plan for an individual’s online communications, which can include a personal website, social networking, and blogging.
  • Career portfolio preparation — Organizing an applicant’s past work into a cohesive portfolio supporting his or her total application.
  • Business card design — Designing personal business cards.
  • Online presence setup — Creating the sites necessary for an online presence, including a personal website or a blog. May also include creating social profiles.
  • Personal marketing materials — Preparing resumes, portfolios, websites, and other marketing materials intended to promote an applicant to prospective employers.

Job Search Services

  • Job search strategy — Helping an individual devise an plan and targeted approach for finding a job.
  • Interview training — Preparing for interviews through learning to speak in public, practicing answers for common questions, and other techniques.
  • Job search assistance — Aiding an applicant in submitting applications and finding job leads.
  • Recruiter — Locating prospective employees that match criteria set out by the hiring employer.
  • Headhunter — Finding individuals with specific skills and experience (typically manager level and above) that meet an employer’s specifications. In some cases, can approach specific individuals about a job on behalf of a company — even if that individual is already employed. Individuals can also retain the services of a headhunter.
  • Outplacement services — Aiding with job searches and providing limited career consulting. In most cases, provided by an employer as part of a severance package.
  • Job lead reporting — Reporting on openings that meet the applicant’s criteria that either appear on job boards or are shared by recruiters. Can include research on individual employers.

Personal Branding Services

  • Personal branding assessment — Examining an individual’s branding and determining how it promotes both the individual and his or her career. Can include specific advice on modifying personal branding.
  • Personal branding strategy — Developing a plan to create a personal brand that reflects both an individual’s skills and goals.
  • Personal branding education — Educating an individual on the elements of a successful personal brand.
  • Publicity coaching — Educating an individual on how to handle the media, including positioning him or herself as an expert in a particular field.
  • Public relations crisis management — Handling crises in such a way as to minimize their affects on future career opportunities.
  • Image consulting — Assessing an individual’s current wardrobe and general appearance, and modifying them to aid in that person’s career. Can also include improvements to both verbal and non-verbal communications.
  • Visual branding — Creating a personal brand through appearance, attitude, and etiquette. Helping individuals look the part and make an impression on prospective employers.
  • Wardrobe consulting — Developing a personal style that is appropriate for an individual’s profession.
  • Personal online marketing — Developing a plan to promote an individual’s expertise and skills online, through social networking, blogging, and other techniques.
  • Public relations outreach —  Developing and executing a PR plan to help get your name out there.


  • Identity protection services — Mitigating the effects of the sheer quantity of information most applicants post online or submit to employers during a job search.
  • Time management assessment — Assessing an individual’s time management and organization skills, and analyzing the results to identify areas for improvement.
  • Behavioral assessment — Assessing an individual’s behavioral styles and preferences (using psychological-profiling models like the DISC behavioral model), and using the results to help improve his or her personal brand or ability to work with or manage others.
  • Workplace expectations assessment — Uncovering and exploring an employee’s expectations in a variety of employment situations, including working on a team, transitioning to a new position, and experiencing organizational restructuring.

Image credit: peepo / iStockphoto


*Career management service professionals tend to repackage their services in the following ways: lines of profession (e.g., financial industry); career level (e.g., entry level or executive level); generation (e.g., Gen Y); gender; and race/ethnicity.

Post updates:
- February 15, 2009 at 10:30 AM ET: Added public relations outreach and personal branding education.
- February 15, 2009 at 9:30 PM ET: Added time management assessment, behavioral assessment, and workplace expectations assessment.
- March 7, 2009 at 2:30 PM ET: Added leadership development coaching, retirement coaching, and job search strategy.