If you are a student, college graduate, or are in a career path that you would like to change, you may want to consider career counseling, as it can be a helpful tool to help you move towards your dream career job.
When you choose a career, you are agreeing to spend decades of your life working in that particular job or industry. To make sure that you are happy with your career choice, you must find a career path that is sustainable for you.
When you look for a sustainable career path, you are not just evaluating its salary, wages or benefits. You are also taking into account its work hours and work demand, your promotional or growth opportunities, and the work environment.
When you choose a career path, you are also choosing your life path since your job has the impact to affect your family life, finances, healthcare options, and vacation time, among others. To make sure that you find the best career path for you, you may want the guidance, coaching, or advice of a career counselor.
What is career counseling?
Career counselors vary, but they include life coaches, therapists, or other certified professionals that specialize in the field of career and personal growth. A career counselor will take the time to listen to your thoughts on your current career path or your hopes for a new one. Then, he or she will advise and guide you towards making the right career choice for you.
Typically, a career counselor will not help you with interview preparation such as resume-writing. However, he or she will work with you toward identifying career goals which will ultimately lead to helping you find potential career options based on several factors, such as self-assessment.
It is common for career counselors to ask you to take a variety of self-assessment tests, which your counselor will use to determine your strengths, attributes, and work options. Self-assessments will also help identify opportunities based on your personality, your job and personal experiences, and your values and interests.
While there are many self-assessment tests available online, it is in your best interest to take one with a professional, since he or she will have the experience to turn those results into an actionable plan for your future.
What are the benefits of using a career counselor?
The most significant benefit to using a career counselor is that he or she will help you to see your current and future life more clearly. It can be hard to see the bigger picture of your life or your identity and attributes if you are uninspired by your current situations. A professional can help by allowing you to take a step back and to see the options that you have before you.
Although self-assessments are helpful, a professional will take the results from the assessment and help you find ways to maximize your strengths. They can also help steer the experiences that you already have in a new direction and a different career path. Without a professional, the chances are high that you will not know what to do with the results of your self-assessment.
When you visit with a career counselor, he or she will most likely review your education and your professional experience. By doing so, they will be able to determine your strengths and your probability of being hired within a specific sector that requires the degrees or certifications that you have.
Your counselor will also review the salary, wages, and benefit options of specific career choices so that you can accurately gauge if it pays enough for you to sustain the lifestyle that you want. You will also discuss the daily operations of the job so that you have a thorough idea of whether you will be a good fit for that role.
Overall, the goal of a career counselor is to make it easier for you to find suitable career options. Depending on your case and the professional, your counselor may suggest that you change the trajectory of your career or help you start your dream career on the right foot. No matter which path is right for you, your career counselor will help you to make the right decision for you based on your meetings.
How to find a career counselor
You can find a career counselor through many mediums, such as the internet, your school or college, or local government. If you are in school or college, you should contact your guidance counselor or career services center for career counseling assistance and resources.
For free tools, you can visit your local library or Chamber of Commerce. You may find that one of these resources offers free or low-cost career counseling services. You can also check with state-wide services, such as the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL’s CareerOne Stop is a resource tool that provides everything from online occupation profiles to local American Job Center offices where you can access career counseling. You can find local American Job Center offices online.
Through your search, you will find job centers that offer free or low-cost services, and services with higher costs, which will include more personalized and systematic guidance.
While there are no legal certifications necessary for career counselors, you may want to consider finding a counselor who is certified through the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP). By doing so, you are guaranteeing that you are finding the right counselor for you who has the professionalism and access to resources needed to help guide you.
No matter where you find a career counselor, he or she will take into account all of your career wants and needs, along with your education and work experience. While they will gather helpful information to guide your career path, it will be up to you to determine which of the options are best for you. If you have a support system behind you, you can have the confidence you need to set out on the best career path for you.