If you are in the job-hunt right now, chances are that you are considering how you can make the next big move to land a position you want (and love).

In general, there are three different ways how you can approach the job-hunt.

  • Do it (learn) Yourself
  • Hire a (career) Coach
  • Guided Career Programs

Each strategy has its benefits, which depend on the stage of your career.

In this article, I want to compare the three job-hunt approaches by highlighting the pros and cons. Also, I will share with you what you should look out for before deciding (and wasting money) on any of the strategies.

Do it Yourself

Career Coach

Guided Career Programs



€ 300 - 2,000

(some + €10,000)

€ 147 

(some + €1,700)


Cost effective

Builds tractions

Required for highly specialized jobs

Tailored to your situation


Can truly transform your

Good value (access to expert advice)

Effective with tested tools for rapid results

Complete focus on career


Takes lots of time with trials and errors

May get stuck easily

Average application = Average results

Expensive & time intensive

Misses specific job-hunt tools

Often untested by gurus

Requires some investment

Less interactive than coaching

No magic bullet

Recommended for:

-> University Graduates starting out

-> Everyone to some degree

-> Senior managers for big career goals

-> Job-seekers completely overwhelmed

-> Busy professionals for rapid results

-> Average profile who want an edge

How to get your ideal position - Job Hunt Strategies Compared: Do It Yourself Vs. Career Coach Vs Guided Program

Do it (learn) yourself:

The first method is probably the one you are already doing. You are trying to use all possible techniques, tools and strategies that can help get closer to your dream-job.

This can be from reading books on 101 career advice (a great book to start is What Colour is Your Parachute), to listening podcasts on application hacks to buying guides on how to write your perfect CV (e.g. check Vault guides).

  • Cost-effective
  • You start right away and build traction
  • Builds resilience and learning by doing
  • Required for highly specialized or prestigious jobs
  • Takes months to see benefits
  • Lots of trial and errors
  • You can get stuck and get frustrated
  • May become overwhelmed
  • Wrong methods can harm job-hunt with
  • Average application = Average results


For sure this is the most cost-effective strategy (on paper – see below maybe why not) and everyone who wins a top-tire position will have to do some learning.

Doing it by yourself also allows you to start the job-hunt right away. Even if you only get rejections, at least you take action and get feedback. The biggest reasons Why people never reach their dream-job is because they never start.

Regardless of which strategy you use, start doing-it RIGHT now. You can always decide to add one of the other strategies later.

Figuring out yourself all steps required for your dream job also strengthens your resilience muscle. With every failed application, screwed-up interview and unsuccessful negotiation, you get better in the job-hunt (even if this just means that you get more comfortable to hear No).

These trials and errors over time transform your professional profile. As you dig deeper into mastering the requirements of your chosen industry and position you can become the person who is capable to succeed in your dream-job.

Finally, for very specialized jobs, there is no other way than to do most of the learning on your own. For example, if you want to work for the United Nations as a technical expert, then you must follow a very extensive and rigid application procedure that takes months (expect roughly 6 months). No coach or online class will teach everything or do the application work for you.

Similarly, if you want to work in highly competitive industries such as strategy consulting, venture capitalist and elite graduate trainee programs (McKinsey, Sequoia Capital, BMW). Entering these industries takes LOTS of work. You will have to become an expert in your business practice and excel at each step of the application process (for example when I was HR VP at a Fortune 500, I saw that 1000 applicants applied for 10 global trainee positions). Here I recommend you combine different approaches to get best result.

PRO TIP Do it yourself:

Partner up with a friend or colleague who you call regularly to share your progress and who you ask for advice. Make sure the person is positive and does not drag your efforts down.You will target the advise of the career coach on what you need and thus see rapid results for your professional growth. 


The biggest problem with trying to do it on our own is that it takes time with many trials and errors before you see results. Seeing my MBA students, it takes roughly 4-5 months until they get results from their application efforts.

When I graduated Oxford and tried to enter the workforce, it took me six months to get a basic level of how to navigate the job-hunt and secure actual offers. Overall, it took me years to master all parts of the job hunt. Sadly, many professionals forget that their time is money.

It can also be lonely to motivate yourself to keep moving towards your dream job. Your friends and family start to give you (bad) advise, which just drags you down (“Just settle for a lower job and finally make money)”.

Doing the job-hunt by yourself can also be overwhelming. With so many, life-hacks, application tricks and guru advise, it is hard to know where to start and how to improve your job-seeking. Often the advice sounds good on paper but it rarely tells you what to do.

More problematic though: there is simply too much bad job advice out there that harms your chances to land a top level job. You then stay stuck (in your head) and get frustrated you do not see progress. This is completely normal, as it is very hard to keep all parts of a successful job-hunt in mind.

However, making essential mistakes can be especially harmful if you apply to ‘prestigious jobs’. Normally you have one chance, as companies will black-list your application for years after a rejection (happened to me in my early twenties at the Boston Consulting Group).

Finally, trying to figure it out all by yourself is what everyone does. Yet, if you do what everyone else does then you will get what everyone else gets: An average job.

Just ask yourself how many of the last 100 applications you sent were actually successful?


Most likely there is no way around that you will have to do parts in in the job-hunt by yourself.

Each job is so unique that there is simply no-one who can take over the entire job-hunt for you. Especially if you are entering the job market as a recent graduate, I recommend you invest considerable time in learning the basics of a good application deck (as a start see my job-hunt checklist).

Recommended For:

  • Graduates entering the job market
  • Professionals who are satisfied with their job but want to look around
  • Highly motivated self-starters who love the challenge to learn everything by doing
  • Job-seekers who target highly specialized jobs (consider using an expert to polish key aspects in your application deck)

Some resources to do it yourself:

If you learn on your own, try to avoid the risk that you oversee all important aspects in the job-hunt. You can use the structured career plan I outlined I n my previous post.


Life & Career Coaches

The second method probably has the most buzz and you may see coaches all around you. You hire a coach who will help you reach your professional goal. The coach will act as your partner who encourages you on the way.

  • Interactive - Someone guides you and holds you accountable
  • Usually tailored to your unique situation
  • Can truly transform your work-life to be more fulfilling
  • Can help you reach big career goals or prepare you to land prestigious jobs
  • Can uncover what truly holds you back or why you always get rejections
  • Expensive (usually +1000 EUR)
  • Time intensive (usually 3-6 months)
  • Focus often on finding deeper meaning but not on rapid results
  • Often misses specific job-hunt tools or techniques
  • Often untested or generic career advice

Broadly there two types of coaches:

Life Coaches

A Life Coach has a more psychological background. She will try to help you deal with important issues and champions you to reach your professional goals. Often, the focus is on ensuring that you are thriving in all important elements in your life (health, career, family, sports, etc.). She will then guide you to become a better version of yourself. Ultimately, this will help you reach your career goals.

A good life coach will try to identify roadblocks, uncover your unique strengths, and energize you to improve the distinct elements in your life. In addition, she will try to understand why certain elements are out of sync and then develop a custom plan, so you see rapid improvements in areas of your life.

Career Coach

A Career Coach is normally much more focused on your professional life and will help reach a specific career goal (e.g. a promotion to a Vice President). The focus is on uncovering what holds you back or what it requires to reach your next career step.

A good career coach will tailor a career strategy to your unique strengths and weaknesses as a professional. He will then propose specific exercises to grow in the areas needed for your next career level. For example, you may learn how to be a better communicator or how to use your social skills in team meetings. 


Hiring a coach for your job-hunt can be very effective, if you are looking to reach a transformational career goal that will take lots of time (e.g. you are currently a mid-level manager and want to become a managing director).

The biggest benefit of having a coach is that you will have someone who helps you analyze your current job situation, develops a specific career-plan and holds you accountable.

In addition, they can be extremely helpful in breaking road-blocks that kept you back for years (e.g. why you always negotiate a lower salary because of fear of rejection). Many company leaders account their success to the right coaches, and the best will do life and career coaching.

Life coaches will help you use, discover and honor your unique strengths in both life and work so to take the next big leap in the job-hunt.

Career coaches can offer you very specific advice in the job-hunt, for example how to position yourself with a mediocre profile, train for an interview or assess different career options. Especially if you are targeting a prestigious job in a highly competitive industry, you can greatly benefit from working together with a right coach that help you master all aspects in the job hunt (I used a coach to help me become the youngest member of a the corporate leadership team).

PRO TIP Save your money:

When you are in the job-hunt save your money on a career coach. Instead, consider a more affordable career program that equips you with the same job-hunt tools and techniques that a career coach offers (check below). You will feel much more empowered when you land great job on your own. Once you have the new job or a more much more clear about the aspects of a career then consider a coach.
You will target the advise of the career coach on what you need and thus see rapid results for your professional growth. 


There are three problems you can have with using a coach in your job-hunt.

1) Excellent coaches are expensive. For example, a career coach typically charges 300 EUR per session and you will need around 4 sessions to see some benefits in your job-hunt.

2) The focus may be on uncovering the deeper values in your professional life. However, it will slow you down to see concrete results as a job-seeker. For example, many coaches will spend considerable time on uncovering your true passion for a job. While this certainly is interesting, spending too much time in these ‘life-meaning’ exercises can block you from actually applying to a job.

When I hired an executive coach it took many years to see lasting result. She was extremely helpful to understand why I kept struggling with stress and low confidence. However, I completely overlooked that to get a dream job I would have to the work needed to get there – meaning mastering the application.

3) Most problematic, many coaches never had a career on their own nor managed people in competitive industries. You may therefore end up with generic advice that at best give you average results and at worst makes you lose a job opportunity. (Of course there are coaches that have an impressive career and helped executives reach important goals, however be prepared to pay several thousand Euros over several weeks).  


If you are serious about making the next very big goal in your life than a coach may be right for you.

Also, if you a seriously struggling with the job-hunt and feel completely stuck then consider a life coach. Finally if you are once you are very successful you will need a coach to keep growing in all your areas of your professional life. You will want someone who advises you to make sure that you do not overlook your core values to live on your terms.

For example, I also offer private advisory to clients. But only once there are ready for it and can afford it (e.g. NOT graduate students). I strongly believe in brief and effective advice, not endless coaching sessions that trap my clients in never ending “finding your life purpose”.

Recommended For:

  • Mid-level managers or experts who want to make the next big career move
  • Anyone who is completely overwhelmed or stuck in their job-hunt
  • Anyone who wants to discover their unique strengths and use them to transform their work-life over months
  • High achievers who need to master a very specific area in their job-hunt (e.g. strategy consulting case study)
  • Senior executives, CEOs and start-up founders who require guidance to balance their professional and private life

CAREFUL about CV agencies

There are agencies that promise you to improve your application deck. Some even write your entire CV and Cover Letter. Be very careful. A friend of mine (EMBA student at INSEAD in Europe) just paid 200 EUR on such a service. While the formatting was nice, the content was far too generic and simply did not work for the level of jobs he applied to. Basically, it included key phrases that could fit for any job but that completely erased his unique profile.
Do not do this. (So far) there is no way around writing the letter yourself. However, you can learn the blueprint for writing an application that deck that sticks out in my Guided Career Crash Course.

How to find a right Coach:

Coaching is not a protected profession and therefore millions of people call themselves coaches. To get a good coach you will have to pay a good compensation. However, this can save you from spending your time in endless sessions on finding your passion while not seeing progress.

For a Life Coach I recommend you to look for a trained psychologist or a professional with a Masters degree in Psychology/ Counseling/ or HR from a respected university. Study their webpage and see if they specifically target professionals. Also ask them about their unique coaching method and what results they can show.

For career coaches, I recommend that you specifically check their professional credentials. Were they working in competitive positions? What experience do they have in hiring, HR, talent management or leadership development? Can they name you clients, companies, or industries?

Regardless of your choice, make sure you 1) have clear expectations beforehand, 2) receive a tailored coaching plan and 3) feel comfortable in your first session.


Guided Careers Programs

The last strategy is probably the one that saw the biggest growth during the last years. Instead of figuring out everything on your own you ‘pick’ the brain of an expert in the job-hunt field and/ or who landed prestigious jobs.

You learn a proven approach that systematically targets key parts to land a top level position. Usually experienced HR managers or Heads of talent create these systems and then deliver them in person or virtual-workshops and via online tools were you learn on your own.

Therefore, I also created such a system as I believe a guided career program is the most cost effective way to get closer to your dream job in a short amount of time.

To receive the highest benefits from a job-hunt or career program, it should be smart, effective and guided.

  • Good value – Access to career tools that can easily cost 1k EUR
  • Time saver - You focus on a few key parts in the job-hunt
  • Effective - Tools and techniques are proven either from experience or science
  • Builds traction - Specific exercises for rapid results
  • Guided - Community for questions and life application hacks
  • Complete - Tools improve all parts required for a top job
  • Requires some time & money investment
  • Active work for exercises required
  • No magic bullet & no get rich quick promise
  • Less interactive than coaching
  • Serious programs will not promise big life transformations or help you uncover deeper meanings


The biggest benefit from job-hunt program is that you can access tools or techniques that are normally accessible to senior leadership or executives. As I mentioned before, good career coaching can easily cost several thousand Euros, which is inaccessible to most job-seekers. With a job-hunt program you can access similar content for a few hundred of Euros.

You also save LOTs of time as you do not have to figure out everything by yourself. Especially as an ambitious professional your free time is one of the most important resources and you will want to only commit to high value activities in you job-hunt. Also, good program will only focus on the task at hand: Show you effective tools so you find a top position fast. Not on fluffy endless self-help advise such as “finding your purpose”. You therefore can improve your job-hunt substantially in a short time.

In addition, you move from guessing what may be effective to using a proven approach that successful candidates used before to land their dream-job. This way you can get the same edge in competing for a prestigious job as top talent.

Another important benefit is that a systematic job-hunt program will guide your through all aspects that are needed to launch a successful career. Many applicants get stuck in trying to improve just one specific aspects (e.g. CV) and therefore overlook all the parts that are required to land a prestigious job (see the Ultimate Guide here).

However, one of the greatest benefits of job-hunt program is if it is guided, where you receive (and are expected) to do targeted exercises. This has three benefits.

  1. It moves you to take action and thus overcome the feeling of being stuck.
  2. Good exercises will help you improve specific parts of your profile right away. This way you do not have to wait to see benefits but can already apply to jobs and see rapid results.
  3. You can enter a community where you can share worries, ask questions and simply encourage each other for results. In my view it is so much easier when you see real examples of others how they improve their job-hunt.

Finally, and in my view most important, a good system will set you-up for long-term success. The goal is not to give you a one time boost for your application. The goal is that you master yourself the tools to win the your job-hunt. Each little improvement will add up and will transform your profile over time into a top talent. With time you can then return to specific parts and re-use them at later stages of your career.

This empowering approach ultimately develops your growth-mindset and resilience. Two core qualities that science shows us are qualities of the most successful high performers.

CAREFUL about too good to be true promises

Many online programs will try to teach you only ‘one-time’ exercises and then will try to trick you into buying (expensive) follow-up master classes. You will have a short boost of motivation but then are left alone HOW to win the job-hunt. I despise this approach. Any program should equip you with the tool and techniques that you can solve your problem at hand.


Although I am convinced that a guided system is the best approach to land a great job fast, there are in all honesty limitations.

First, it is not magic. A good job-hunt program can substantially bring you closer to your dream job. Even if you have big gaps in your work-life, have a non-ideal background, were unemployed for many years or simply lack relevant work experience. However, it will not make you the next CEO. You will not move from Junior Consultant to Managing Partner in a year (maybe eventually) and most likely you will not triple your salary. Every program that promises you this is simply a scam.

It will also require your time and active work. Although guided programs can substantially reduce your time to land a great job (for example you only send high impact application instead of hundreds), they will not do the work for you. Yes, you will get guides and best practice application tips (e.g. how to write a cover letter, key phrases in a CV, interview hacks) but you will still need to create your profile, write your application decks, interview and negotiate your salary.

However, once you get ‘how’ all those stages in the job-hunt work, applying is fun! Once I got comfortable (and confident) to apply to prestigious job, it was AWESOME to fly to new cities for interview (pre-corona), talk to senior people and simply sleep in fancy hotels.

Compared to coaching, it is less interactive and you cannot expect the same tailored advice as in 1:1 coaching. If you are completely overwhelmed, struggle mentally or face other severe challenges , a coaching program (or psychologist) will help you most.

Why I don't want you as my coaching client:

My aim in my guided program is that once you finish the program you have everything you need to master all aspects of your job-hunt on your own . 

Thus you lay the foundation for a successful career. This way that you do NOT need any additional private advisory as you realize you can get (nearly) any job on your own with the right approach. This is also good for me as I simply do not have time to engage in endless 1:1 advisory sessions.

Also, I believe that most applicants rather save their money on my 1:1 sessions, build their own job and once they are an executive return to me so we design an HR strategy for their workforce.

Excellent programs nonetheless will offer you interactive sessions, where you can ask your questions, get feedback or simply get encouraged for your next big move. For example, I make sure that in my program I offer weekly calls with a few participants. This way everyone has the chance to ask questions and see real-life application improvements. Also, I offer a virtual community so everyone feels connected.

Finally, you cannot expect that a brief program will your BIG life transformation. Some courses promise you to find your passion forever. But you will be quickly disappointed. After you spent a few thousand EUROS, your motivation burst quickly fades away and you realize that it is not that easy to find your passion.

Therefore, all my methods follow clear scientific evidence that your passion will not come before your job, you must work for it, discover it and finally build it while working! However, this is much more liberating as you become the owner of your life passion and can re-adapt it.


A guided career or job-hunt program can be the most time and cost effective way to see rapid improvements in your job-hunt. 

I am convinced you can get closer to your dream job and earn a higher salary if you make sure the program is 1) smart (focus on the most important parts of your professional profile), 2) effective (only use proven tools and techniques that improve your application) and 3) guided (exercises for rapid result and interactions).

However, to benefit from such programs you will need actively do the professional exercises, invest some time in learning new application and be aware that no BIG life transformations will be possible. In addition, if you are an executive and/ or trying to fulfill a long-term career (life) goal, then consider a career (life) coach instead.

Recommended For:

  • Ambitious professionals who want to move to the next job-level (e.g. Analyst to Senior Consultant, team leader to manager)
  • Busy professionals who wants to improve the application success fast
  • College (MBA) graduates trying to enter a top talent job (but not government – see 1.)
  • Experienced professional who re-enter the job-market and need an application crash course
  • Anyone with an average profile who wants to stand out from the competition
  • Anyone stuck and in need of effective application advise (CV, Cover Letter, interviews)
  • Anyone who is overwhelmed doing on their own and searches guidance in their job-hunt

Conclusion: Each job-hunt strategy has its place ... But a guided program can have the biggest impact on application success

There are so many ways how you can approach the job-hunt. However in my experience these are the three.  All of them have their place at different stages. However you can be smart of how to use them. Always do your research (specifically check the profiles of the people who teach you).

And don't expect a silver bullet. No serious job-hunt solution will take over the work for you. But you can avoid much pain if you use them right approach.

I recommend to start the job-hunt on your own so you get a feeling of the different stages.

Then subscribe to a guided course to learn the specifics how to get closer to your dream job.

Once you have the new job, then hire a coach to tailor a program that builds your success loop. After finishing the  Career Crash Course you will benefit much more from a good career coach or advisor as you will know where you need help in your professional and personal life. 

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About the Author

Work Psychologist & Advisor, with the sole purpose to find and offer you the most competent advise so you grow professionally and live a fulfilling work-life on your terms. 

Find out more: How I went from being an anxious, always pleasing and stuck in the rat-race professional to creating a well-paying career and fulfilling life on my terms.


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