Few would argue that there are times when it’s best to seek out a specialist about your health. The same can be true when your career needs a check up or a serious intervention.
Since this decision involves both time and money, and can have a significant impact on your career path, it’s important to know what to consider in selecting a career counselor.
What exactly is career counseling?
How do you go about choosing a professional?
What can you expect?
Career counseling is a well-established profession with its origins dating back to the industrial revolution when jobs on farms were shrinking and new technologies were increasing. The demand for workers was an incentive for veterans returning from WWI. But, they needed guidance from career counselors to help them understand the marketplace, find training and secure jobs.
Credentials for career counselors vary from state to state. In Maine, a license is not necessary to practice, although a Master’s Degree in Counseling is one indicator of a professional’s level of expertise.
If you are considering a career counselor, determine if they meet most of the following criteria:
Earned Master’s Degree in Counseling or Career Development or a recognized Coaching Certificate with a specialty in Career Coaching.
A record of success helping individuals reach their career goals and a process they can explain to you
Ability to guide you through a process of determining what you want to do next (if you are not certain you want to continue in your field)
Expert knowledge of the job search process and the most effective strategies for securing employment (including proven expertise in Linkedin as a way to leverage contacts as well as present your professional persona)
Current knowledge of the local marketplace, including salary information
Ability to assist with relevant connections and introductions to people in your target area
Here are examples of situations that warrant a career counselor:
Bored with your career with an increasing lack motivation to go to work
Have been out of the workforce to raise your family or care for a family member and you’re unclear about your marketable skills
Want to raise the bar on your career and need a strategy to do this effectively
Have lost your job due to restructuring and want to assess your career direction
Have just graduated from college and need help launching a career
Want to be ready for the next professional opportunity and need a new resume, Linkedin profile and a clear way of communicating your value
Anticipate retiring in 3-5 years and want to begin to think about your life and work in this phase of life
Have retired from a primary career, took some time off, and now need a renewed sense of purpose in your life
Career counselors typically meet with clients in person. They may charge an hourly fee for each session, or they may ask you to commit up front to a group of sessions.
Do your research: check out their Linkedin profile, company website, education and experience. Request a brief phone conversation to consider their approach and note how well they listen and seem to understand your situation and needs.
Trust your intuition as well as the specific information you learn and choose wisely, since this relationship could impact the rest of your life.