How A Career Coach Differs From A Recruiter

Definition of the word Coaching, highlighted with green text marker.A potential client asked during a recent coaching consultation if I would review his resume and provide a list of jobs for him to apply. This request underscores the confusion many have regarding the differing role of a career coach versus a recruiter. What then, are the key differences between these two professionals?

  • A career coach helps clients clarify what career options will be uniquely fulfilling. Recruiters identify positions that are the next logical step based on your resume.
  • A career coach will help you find the companies where you most want to work, and support you in networking your way into the organization. Recruiters match applicants with positions in their job listings.
  • Career coaches help clients compare and contrast the rewards and challenges inherent to the careers you find most appealing. Recruiters do not offer assistance with customized and in depth career discovery exploration.
  • A career coach helps clients learn how to uncover both the pluses and minuses of company culture during the interview process. Based on contracts with hiring employers, recruiters offer limited information about a company’s work culture.
  • A career coach will challenge you to remain true to your most important career aspirations and personal values. This is not within the scope of a recruiter’s function or training.
  • Career coaches work with clients wanting to change careers. Recruiters rarely engage career changers; as a new career direction does not readily mesh with past job titles.
  • You may address and overcome through career coaching issues such as a lack of confidence that can undermine your job search. In contrast, it is best not to discuss with a recruiter any issue that might render you a “weak” candidate.

Although career coaches and recruiters perform different professional functions, it is important to note that there are both many topnotch recruiters and career coaches. In fact, I at times refer clients to a recruiter as one avenue to uncover targeted career opportunities.

© 2016, Seth Kaufman, Psy.D., Certified Career Coach at
All rights reserved. Reproduction or distribution of this article allowed only when credited to its author.

See more articles: