Times are tough and the current economy has hit everyone hard. Families are struggling to make ends meet, and the costs of living seem to continue to rise. So why in the world should someone spend extra money on career counseling?
According to Forbes magazine, 71% of people hate their jobs. In December of 2011, CBS News ran a report (based on a survey by Right Management) that stated that 84% of people were planning on looking for a different job. Now, statistics can be misleading, but we can sufficiently say that there are many unhappy workers out there. If we add to that the high number of unemployed, the natural conclusion is that many people are struggling in the career arena.
Career Counseling is an under-used and under-appreciated profession. Therefore, let me give you a few key reasons why investing in career counseling is an intelligent decision that will actually pay off in the long run:
Reason #1: Competition. There are a lot of people out there looking for work. All the tricks that you may have learned years ago may not get you to the top of the application pile this time. Personally, within the last few years things have changed enough that I would not have landed the same jobs I did six years ago if I used the same job search methods now. A good career counselor will keep up with the research and market trends in order to make sure that you have the best chance to gain interviews and land a good job.
Reason #2: Specificity. Most people do not have a clear picture of their own skills and abilities and how they translate into the work environment. In the age of the internet, career assessments are available in many different forms, all for free and in the comfort of your own home. However, a generic interpretation of these results is not sufficient when trying to make a sound decision regarding a career. Assessments like these do not take into account the current labor market, family issues, physical issues, or anything else that may impact a career choice. A good career counselor can help you understand assessment results and apply them to your own circumstances.
Reason #3: Application. Careers are always changing, and there are more choices out there than people realize. There is something that career counselors use called the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. If you were to look at it, you would see thousands and thousands of job titles. As a counselor, I have looked at that for specific jobs that my clients held, and often found that this extensive list was not comprehensive enough to cover all that exists out there in the world of work. I recently was working with a client and asked them to describe their dream job. Once they had described it, they then stated “but that job does not exist!” I asked them to give me a few days, and within those few days I was able to find 4 separate job openings within their preferred commute that actually matched the job they described. It is amazing the type of jobs that are available when a person knows where and how to look.
Reason #4: Investing in yourself. We work a lot. Most of us will spend more time working than doing most anything else in our lives. Wouldn’t it be wise to plan how we are going to use the time we dedicate to labor? I have heard people say, “I would love to meet with a career counselor, but I just cannot justify the cost!” These same people then complain about their jobs, how unhappy they are, and how they cannot see any hope for change. For about the same cost that most people pay to have their hair done, get a new outfit, or spend a night out on the town, they could have a one on one consulting session with a counselor who could help them plan their goals and their future in a way that will lead them to be more successful.
Reason #5: Objectivity. Schools, agencies, and other entities may not have your best interests at heart. What do I mean by that? A client who wanted to go back to school had spoken to an academic counselor. This counselor had stated that my client could finish her degree in a year if she majored in community planning and development. As I spoke to her, she did not know what kind of jobs she could get with that degree, nor did she understand what the job would entail. She had been convinced by the academic counselor that this was a fast way to finish a degree. The academic counselor wanted her to enroll because that is the counselor’s job—to get students. An independent career counselor can help you understand what training options are available and what positives and negatives are associated with these trainings.
There could be numerous other reasons added to this list. As a career counselor, I have said to many potential clients, “When you are sick, you go to the doctor. When you want to lose weight, you hire a personal trainer. When you have a big date, you get your hair done and buy a nice new outfit. Isn’t it just as important to invest in yourself and your future?”
As a professional career counselor, it is my job to look at all issues and circumstances in a client’s life, and help him or her understand all available career options. After we work together to determine a vocational goal, I then help the client gain all the tools necessary to have a successful outcome. It is hard work to pick a career path and move towards it. However, with an appropriate guide, the journey will be more rewarding.