How a Career Counselor Can Help You Find the Right Professional Path
Although the unemployment rate is on the decline, that’s not always good news for job seekers. Approximately 159.19 million people were in the US civilian labor force during 2016 and since then, the number of workers has only grown.
During the past year, approximately 2.1 million people entered the American workforce in search of gainful employment. Despite that, the Washington, DC area added 20,300 jobs during the 2017 to 2018 period, and there are countless people who are still out of work — or who are eager to change careers.
In today’s economy, it’s hard enough to find any job. But finding a job you actually enjoy may feel like a completely impossible task. While recruiters certainly have their perks and can help you make connections with organizations, a career counselor can help to illuminate your goals even more clearly and guide you through the beginning stages of this new professional venture.
What is career counseling?
Let’s first discuss what career counseling actually is. This discipline essentially combines psychotherapy principles and counseling techniques in a setting that’s focused on providing productive exploration and guidance to those who need career development, professional shifts, and employment options. It’s a professional service that can allow a job seeker to more adequately choose, change, or even leave a career with help from a qualified, licensed therapist.
Whether you require help choosing a career path right out of high school or college or wish to make a complete career transition in middle age, career counselors can provide some much-needed guidance throughout any stage of employment.
Even if you’re taking advantage of every connection and skill you have, finding a job can take months. Some experts estimate that you’ll likely spend one month searching for every $10,000 you want to take home in your paycheck. And while getting hired when you’re young is hard enough, it can be even tougher if you’re attempting to completely switch career paths later in life or if you’ve been out of the workforce for an extended period for whatever reason.
How can a career counselor assist you?
Let’s face it: the process of finding a job can be overwhelming and exhausting, especially if you feel like you’re in over your head. But a career counselor can help you through virtually every step of this process, from identifying potential interest areas, better understanding your ideal position, to highlighting your skills and experience on your resume.
First, a career counselor can help you identify the possible career options available to you. If you need help narrowing down the list of potential avenues or could benefit from a bit more versatility in your search, your counselor can help you focus on those areas. He or she can also determine what you already do well and what you might need to work on.
Your counselor may have you take a variety of aptitude and personality tests to determine the kinds of jobs that will be the best fit for you. Not only can this give you a clearer picture of the types of positions for which you’ll want to apply, but it can also offer some valuable information about how to turn the negatives into positives when interviewing or when furthering your skillset.
Your career counselor can also help you to set some attainable professional goals. Because the job hunting process can be anxiety-provoking, it can be difficult to even recognize the right actions to take (and the order in which to take them) to further your career. It may help immensely to have a knowledgeable outside perspective here.
Your counselor can assist you in creating an action plan of both short-term and long-term goals so you can make professional progress and informed decisions pertaining to your career. If you’re someone who needs a little push to move forward in your career, it may be helpful to you to be accountable not only to yourself but to your counselor as well.
A career counselor can also offer branding advice. If you want to be a successful professional in any industry, you need to learn how to market yourself properly. This will allow you to find your unique voice in the professional realm and show potential employers exactly what you’ll bring to the table. You can also utilize this branding concept to ensure your resume, cover letters, and professional website and headshots stand out for all the right reasons.
Helping you grow professionally
Finally, don’t overlook the fact that a career counselor can offer valuable emotional support during a difficult transition. Being able to talk through the challenges associated with applications and interviewing can make the process seem a lot less daunting.
Although you may have a support system of your own, it may help to have someone in your life devoted to discussing your career-related challenges and triumphs. Best of all, he or she will be there just for you. You won’t have to feel guilty about taking up their time or feel foolish for not having all the answers.
If you’re feeling stuck, confused, or uncertain with your current employment situation, you certainly aren’t alone. But you don’t have to struggle without help. Your counselor will bring a wealth of experience to these sessions. This can improve your confidence and help inform your decisions throughout your professional career.