What is career counseling?

Although career counseling is not for everyone, it has recently become more popular. Today’s economy is often volatile, and millions of Americans change their jobs or careers every year.

This change can sometimes be easy, as some fields have more job openings available at any given moment. Going at this change alone can be stressful and confusing, but there are certainly ways to get the help that you need when you are making such an important decision.

While many associate getting a career coach with being a student, the actual counseling practice is open to anyone who wishes to get a jumpstart into their next career by planning ahead for the future. By doing the right searching and preparation for the next stage in your life, you can be ready to make a transition into a better, more fulfilling career. This article will discuss the different facets of career counseling, as well as how to find a counselor that meets your diverse needs.

What does career counseling entail?

Finding a career advisor can be a unique experience, as you may not at first even think to do so. Most Americans go through a career transition without seeking any help, which puts them at a greater risk of making an uninformed decision. While getting a counselor is not the only way to choose your next career, it is often a practical and methodical way of organizing your job search and getting help with making such an important decision. You are never required to get counseling help, but doing so can be a beneficial activity for anyone, regardless of their career interests or job security.

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Career counselors have a number of different responsibilities, which can range from simply getting to know and understand your personality and likes, to tailoring career suggestions for you based on their extensive lists of career services and resources. Their primary job is to listen to you, and give you practical advice that can lead towards getting a new career than fits your needs. Taking advantage of these services can be especially useful if you are still new to the professional workforce, and may not know exactly what you want to do in the future. Advisors can give you a list of possible field suggestions, and even leads to follow in order to find an open position in those fields today.

How can I know if a career advisor is right for me?

Using career services is generally a great way for workers to take their first step into a new career. However, not all advisors may be the right fit for your needs. Some of the different factors that make a good advisor include:

  • Listening skills. While any advisor could simply look at someone and say, “You should be an accountant” it takes a good listener to really understand their client’s skills, aspirations and needs.
  • Is your advisor properly trained to give you career advice? There are many career counseling services that claim to be reputable but do not actually have the certification needed to truly give the best advice.
  • When you go in for an advising meeting, you always want to walk out of that meeting with some concrete ideas and resources that you can use in your new job search. While a good advisor may give ideas for job search websites and recruiters to use, great ones will lead you to professionals working in that field and potential employers that could use an applicant like yourself.

Tips for Getting the Most out of Career Counseling

Before you can learn to find a career counselor that is right for you, it is important to know how to properly use one. You can get the most out of your advising sessions if you:

  • Go into the process with an open mind. A counselor’s job is to help you to learn about potential career options that you may not know about or have considered. While you have the choice to ignore their advice, it would be wise to not shut any of their ideas down. Even if you cannot see yourself in a certain position today, that does not mean that you will feel the same way tomorrow.
  • Ask questions, and answer them as well. If a career advisor does not know enough about you, they cannot do their job properly. Inform your advisor of all of your skills, experiences, aspirations and even flaws. The more they know about you, the more likely they are to find the career that best suits you.
  • Do not take their word as law. Counselors are meant to help you, but they are not supposed to be your decision-makers. If a counselor is pressuring you to make a certain career decision, it is likely time for you to get a new counselor.

How to Find a Career Counselor for Little to No Cost

There are plenty of great ways to get the counseling that you need to get your next job without breaking the bank. For example, career counseling online is one of the fastest-growing counseling methods out there, often with very good results. If you are to go onto a career website and video-chat with a licensed counselor, you may be able to get the help that you need from the comfort of your own home. Of course, there are also plenty of in person options for your counseling needs if that is what you prefer.

Most counselors will charge an hourly rate, which can be helpful for those who would like to decide how much counseling they wish to pay for. However, some career advisors charge a flat rate per session, so it is important to be aware of the kind of payment plan that your counselor asks for. The vast majority of advisors can be found through the International Coaches Federation (ICF), or the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARCC).

If you are still in school or are a recent graduate of a college or university, many schools’ career development programs will allow you to meet with an advisor for free. Even if you have been out of school for a while, it is always a good idea to see what kind of alumni services your school has to offer. While going to a specialized career development agency is always a possibility, you usually cannot go wrong with working with school advisors for a much lower rate. Finding the career coach that best works with your needs and your budget can take some time, but the payoff for finding the right one will allow you to start your new career with the resources that you need.

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