Working On Your Career, Not Just In It

Question (From A Marketing VP):  Actors have somebody or a group of people actively managing their careers, guiding, preparing, negotiating, etc.  Is there such a thing for a business executive?  You pay somebody a fee, similar to an agent, for the services provided by a number of disparate functions: e.g., recruiting (executive recruiter) for the ideal positions, performing at a high level (coach), negotiating salary and contracts (labor lawyer).  In short, I would be interested in a career manager that would handle my career.  Does this type of service/person exist?

You’re right that there are 3 separate pieces — legal, search, and coaching.  But there are good reasons why all 3 are not under the same arena:

With legal, you want very specific expertise in contracts and compensation/ options structuring, so while there is some coaching offered, a lawyer who really knows labor stuff is going to need to do that stuff full time;

With search, positions are funded by the hiring company.  While good search recruiters offer coaching and definitely massage their candidates before they are presented, their primary relationship is with the company.  The company relationship and fees are worth much more than any one individual can provide in fees;

Finally a coach does work for the candidate.  In this way, a coach could theoretically be on the lookout for jobs.  However there are very strict labor laws against having to pay to have access to jobs, so no coach is going to market as if they are charging clients for access to work.  Coaching is really about getting you to take the actions.  Besides, the fact that the coach is paid by the candidate should make a good hiring firm less trusting of the coach’s recommendation, so how much can coaches really advocate on your behalf.

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