How to Get the Most From Career Counseling

career counseling
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At some point during your career, you may need professional advice. Maybe you are choosing a career for the first time or want to change your current one. Perhaps you need help with your job search. Career counseling can help you with these and other career-related dilemmas. Find out how to get the most from this very valuable service.

Choose the Right Career Development Professional

Once you decide you need career counseling, you will have to find someone who can provide it. There are a lot of people claiming to be experts in this area so you must be sure to find someone who has the proper training to help you. Make sure the person you choose has training in career development. She may be a career counselor, a career development facilitator or a career coach. For the sake of simplicity, in this article we will refer to the provider of career counseling services as a career counselor or simply a counselor.

Avoid getting help from someone who may have an ulterior motive. For example, a recruiter or placement counselor at an employment agency will be unlikely to have your best interests at heart. Her job is to find someone to fill open positions not to help you find a satisfying career.

Share Your Expectations With the Counselor

Either before your first meeting or during it the career counselor should ask you why you want to meet with him. Thoroughly explain your reasons for scheduling an appointment. Do you need help looking for a job, for example with writing a resume, organizing your job search and preparing for interviews? Are you thinking about changing careers? Unless you are clear about your expectations, the counselor won't be able to help you. If you are unsure about what you need, let him know that too. For example if you don't know if you need a new job or a brand new career, ask for help figuring it out.


Don't Be Late for Your Appointment

To get the most out of your appointment, you must be punctual. Arriving on time allows you to fully utilize the entire session. The counselor usually won't be able to continue to meet with you after your appointment is scheduled to end because other clients will be waiting.

Don't Expect a Career Counselor To Tell You What Career Is Best for You

Even the most well-trained career counselor won't be able to tell you what career is best for you. You should be very wary of anyone who claims they can. She should be able to help you figure out what careers are a good fit but only after you provide her with a lot of information about yourself including your interests, work-related values, aptitudes and personality type. This will be done through discussion and the use of self assessment tools.

Be Honest

Career counseling can only work if you are truthful with your counselor. Don't withhold any information that may impact your ability to reach your goals. For example, if you are suffering from anxiety and you know that rushing headlong into a job search will exacerbate it, let him know that you need to move slowly. A good counselor will be willing to work at the pace you set. If financial difficulties are going to keep you from getting the training you need for a new career, say something. He may be able to help direct you to scholarships and financial aid resources.

Do Your Homework

Some counselors give their clients assignments to work on between sessions. For example, she might ask you to bring in a couple of job announcements that interest you or may ask you to research an occupation or two. Arrive for your sessions with your assignment completed. Doing so will allow you to keep moving forward.

Follow Your Counselor's Advice

You hired a counselor because you needed help. While you don't have to do everything he suggests, not following his advice means you are wasting your time and money. If you find you are not doing what the counselor tells you to do, ask yourself why. Are you just being lazy, are you scared of making a change, or do you think you are getting bad advice?  If you truly think he is giving you bad advice, it could be time to find a new counselor.

Make Sure You Are Getting What You Need

If you're like most people, you don't want to spend an infinite amount of time in counseling. You want to resolve the problems that brought you there in the first place and ultimately meet the goals you set for yourself. Every now and then ask yourself if you are moving forward. Are you getting out of career counseling what you wanted? Is the counselor attentive to your needs?

Remember that you may not be able to reach all your goals as quickly as you might like, for example you may not have a new job yet, but are you in a better position for getting one than you were when you started? If the answer is "yes," ask yourself if you have more to gain from continuing to meet with your counselor. If it's "no," ask yourself if you could benefit more from trying someone new.