When should you seek professional career advice?

When should you seek professional career advice?

Seeking out professional career advice is no different to many forms of professional advice. You can find a certain amount on Google, but if it doesn’t answer all your questions or tell you where to start, you can feel no more confident than when you started. Paying for professional help is an investment and you want to make sure that investment has been worthwhile and paid off. There are two main factors that will determine whether it’s been money well spent. 

What’s your need?

Necessity is the mother of all invention – it also helps us focus on what we need to get done. If you have a deadline for an application, worsening situation at work or you’ve given yourself a deadline to make a decision, but can’t seem to find the head-space to make progress, then professional support and advice will help. Professional support generally means you work through a process and are held accountable by someone that’s objective to your situation. 

There is no shortage of free information available on the internet. When you read enough of it, you soon realise it doesn’t tell you everything you need to know. The main reason is generic advice can’t speak directly to your situation or concerns. General information found online may read like a novel – interesting but it doesn’t relate to your real-world needs.

The third common reason we find people seek out professional help is they can’t afford to leave it to trial and error. Maybe you’re in a specialised field, or at a point in your life you’re concerned about wasting time and effort, or you’ve been trying but not getting any traction. Professional advice may help you identify a specific direction to take and the strategy to achieve it. There are no shortcuts, but knowing how and where to focus your effort can save a great deal of time and stress.

Who should you work with?

Like all professions, no two practitioners are the same. Career practitioners can range from large providers, with structured programs, to boutique business or individuals. Each career practitioner may range in background including psychologists, education career counsellors, coaches or those from a mixture of industry backgrounds.  Career practitioners tend to work broadly across industries, as clients come from varied backgrounds. 

Remember, the consultant you work with doesn’t need to be able to do your job, but they need to have an understanding of your industry and the nature of what you do. 

If you want some assurance, professional members of the CDAA are all accredited in career development, either through qualification, industry experience or a mixture of both. 

How to be confident in who you choose to work with

  1. Be clear on what outcome you want to achieve from professional advice.
  2. Ask friends and family if they have worked with anyone in the past they’d recommend. 
  3. Search CDAA and LinkedIn to read who may be a fit for you.
  4. Pick three and request an initial phone conversation to firstly gauge whether you warm to this person and feel you could trust them, and then whether their program and pricing is a fit for you. 
  5. Decide if the timing is right to invest the time, energy and money to make the most of the momentum.

We often speak with potential clients that have a career dilemma, and after talking with them confirm they have the confidence and a good network around them, but no deadline or not under time pressure. For these people, we’ll actually advise them to use their time to explore some options, and if they exhaust those or find there is a deadline, then the timing maybe right to invest in professional advice. 

Working with any professional advisor, is a active relationship that both need to invest in. There is no magic wand, so don’t expect answers after one meeting, but if at any stage you don’t think you’re moving towards what you need, not challenging your thinking or you’re not learning anything new about yourself or the market, then don’t be afraid to speak up. 


Professional career advice varies in the market, to meet the varied needs of people from all sorts of backgrounds and level of support required. Finding the fit that is right will make all the difference. 

Andrea has spent over 25 years working with organisations, leaders and employees at every stage of a business and career life cycle. She has created positive impact for organisations through her work with executives, leadership teams, and diverse functional teams within the arts, education, government and media organisations as examples. With over 15 years experience within career development and coaching, her direct knowledge of individuals fears and challenges and insights across a broad spectrum of sectors and organisations, creates a unique understanding of what employees need to thrive.