Some of people have known since childhood what it is they want to do when they ‘grow up’. That passion dictates many of their life choices like taking extra lessons after school or choosing which tertiary course to take. Others may have an inkling of the kind of work they like without having a specific career in mind. Or they may be influenced by their physical, financial or social circumstances.
Regardless of our situation, we all share a common desire – to find work that we enjoy and that complements our personal goals. Sometimes the pathway to this work is clear but often we have trouble even knowing what our goals are. We might start a job we like but after some time we feel stuck in a rut, unmotivated or we lack the confidence within ourselves to try anything different.
It has been said that many of us plan our holidays in more detail then we plan our lives. When we see a travel agent we always have a destination in mind but we need help to find the best way to get there. The travel agent will ask about our preferences for transport, timescales and activities. Or to put it another way, they will help us determine where we want to go, how to we want to get there, when do we want to arrive and what are we going to do once we are there?
Career counselling uses the same clarification process to help us plan where we want to ‘travel’ in order to find work that we love doing.
Your counsellor will initially go over your current skills and employment history. They will also give you the opportunity to discuss your ideal work ‘destination’ and what you think might be involved in getting there.
A career counsellor can help you to:
Where to you want to be?
Your counsellor can help you discover the type of employment that would make you truly happy. If you have no idea where to start, they may suggest industries or roles that suit your personality. For example if you love ‘helping people’ they may examine opportunities in health services or hospitality with you.
If you have a job in mind career counselling is helpful to determine if your expectation is realistic and if it will meet all your needs. The focus will always be on what you can do rather than what you can’t do. If you want to change careers your counsellor will discuss the implications this could have on your lifestyle, finance and family goals.
What challenges do you face?
Sometimes people seek career advice from a counsellor because of road-blocks in their current work situation. Others feel restricted due to personal issues. These can include:
These issues can make it hard for some people to perform at their best at work. As a consequence they may feel uncomfortable dealing with colleagues or may be overlooked for promotions.
Those entering or returning to the workforce may not feel they have the skills to apply for their ideal job so they only apply for jobs within their comfort zone.
A career counsellor will help you to break down these issues and work out which ones you can control or work-around. Together you can develop tools and strategies to use to get past your obstacles so that you can continue to move forward in your chosen career.
How are you going to get there?
A common misconception about career counsellors is that they provide a kind of job agency service. While they will not match you up with a particular job they will help you explore the options or ‘itinerary’ that will help you move towards your career destination. They may give advice on:
Once you have worked out all the different pathways you can take to reach your career goals you will need to start making some choices. Together with your career counsellor you can break down the goal into a series of smaller attainable steps and work them into a specific plan of action.
What will you do once you are there?
When we reach our career goals most of us are not content to stop there. We always have new paths to explore such as enrolling in further training, becoming self-employed, seeking new job opportunities or going on to pursue other personal goals.
Some people can manage their careers just fine on their own or with the support of family and friends. However using the services of a professional career ‘agent’ can open up so many more possibilities.
Sharing your experiences with others either individually or in a group session without being judged can give you the confidence to take a few more risks and push your personal boundaries. It might just be the catalyst you need to move forward and create a better, happier life for yourself.
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