Are you still struggling with what you want to be when you grow up? If so, you are not alone. Choosing a career is a major decision, it’s about more than just deciding how to make a living or earn extra income, because our career choice ultimately affects many other faucets of our lives. Career exploration is a life-long process, as we age and grow our lifestyles, experiences and thus career goals may change.
The average American spends approximately 71% of their time, every year at their job. Over a lifetime, this equates to spending a third of their lives at work. Considering this large investment of time, the importance of selecting a career that is a good fit cannot be over emphasized. But don’t worry, If you don’t like your current job, you are in good company. A 2014, study showed that only 52.3% of Americans report being satisfied with their job. This lack of job satisfaction may impact the mental health and well-being of employees. It may lead to job stress, or feelings of anxiety or depression, which can obviously affect functioning in other aspects of life. Thus finding a career that is a good fit is an important component to leading a fulfilling life. Career counseling can be very helpful for students or young adults making their initial career choice, but it can also be helpful for experienced professionals. Career counseling helps clients develop coping strategies to deal with challenging work situations, such as personality conflicts, difficulty with a manager, unemployment, underemployment, reentering the job market, disability accommodations and navigating retirement.
Career counseling generally involves face-to-face interaction, although as our world becomes more and more dependent upon electronic communication, online counseling and online life coaching may also be utilized successfully for career counseling. The most important aspect of career counseling, regardless of the medium utilized for sessions, is the one-on-one interaction between the career counselor and the client. This is the time when the career counselor can work with the client to gain a better understanding of their personality, desires, and boundaries in terms of occupational choices. Fully exploring the client’s expectations and desires related to their career is incredibly important, as career decision and progress towards professional goals play an important role in the development of individual identity, positive self-esteem and interpersonal functioning.
A career counselor helps facilitate the process of self-exploration which helps guide the client through the process of career choice and decision making. A Career Counselor can assist you with learning more about yourself by gaining awareness and knowledge of self through assessing interest, abilities, transferable skills, values and personality as they relate to career choice. A career counselor may explore the importance of lifestyle, socio economic status, culture, social and familial experiences influence career choice. They can also assist clients with learning about decision-making styles and applying those strategies to career decision-making. This process includes clarifying and setting realistic goals, developing an action plan related to those career goals, and perhaps most importantly; utilizing counseling techniques to help clients to develop appropriate coping skills to manage all the emotions that come along with job search and career exploration.
Major career decisions are often accompanied by some feelings of anxiety, stress, and disappointment as people experience the self-growth which comes from the challenging their perceptions, exploring their worldview, and ultimately making
thoughtful changes to their professional career. Thus career counselling focuses on both the internal psychology of the person along with the external factors of education and employment, which provide context for the career choice options and ultimately the person’s professional goals.
Career counselors are typically counseling professionals who have chosen to concentrate on the field of career development. Career counselors utilize their advanced academic counseling training to help them understand the connection between how personality traits, mental health and lifestyle choices impact career choices; paying special attention to how certain personalities perform in various professional and occupational settings. A career counselor will be trained to provide career information resources, discuss career development, administer and interpret aptitude and ability assessments. A career counselor can help anyone who is interested in choosing an initial career, changing careers, navigating job loss, determining options for advanced education, or exploring ways to be more satisfied with a current career. Each career counselor will have their own unique style of practice which will be tailored to the client’s specific needs, however below are listed some actions that are very typical in career counseling:
· Conduct personal counseling sessions to help clarify career goals
· Plan career exploratory activities through assignments
· Provide exercises for improving decision-making skills
· Help the client to develop a personal career plan
· Discuss strategies for an effective job search
· Provide support for those experiencing job stress, job loss, and career transition
It is important to note that the career planning process is a circular one. The skills learned during career counseling will likely get utilized again before retirement. At various stages in their lives, people may return to questioning the trajectory of their career and choose to re-explore their occupational and education goals. This exploration is a healthy process where an individual can discuss what is working well in their career and where they may be open to making professional changes or adjustments.