What is a Career Counselor?
Career Counselors are professionals who work with individuals and groups in the process of making career decisions and plans. A Career Counselor can be extremely helpful in assisting people in the process of identifying those life values, personality characteristics and interests that are most important to them to direct this career selection process.
Counselors offer guidance
First clients discover their best choices among a wide variety of professional occupations through vocational testing and/or research. The counselor then often works as a coach to teach and encourage the client to implement networking and job search strategies or to make plans for appropriate education or training.
Career counselors must be licensed by the state where they practice to call themselves “counselor.” (They may also be in the process of getting their license and working in a setting where they are supervised by someone with a state license.) People who do not have this credential may call themselves “consultants”, “advisors”, or “coaches”, but by law cannot call themselves “counselors.”
A counselor has spent many years in education and supervision to meet a high standard of practice. If you seek career assistance from someone who is not a counselor, make sure you have good references and know what training they have to do this type of work. A non-licensed coach or consultant may actually be a good choice for career guidance, as long as they have relevant skill and experience for the needs of the client. Someone with human resources experience, for example, may be able to provide guidance to people who want to thrive in the corporate world, but the consumer must beware because anyone can call themselves a “coach” or “consultant”. It is up to the person seeking career guidance to determine if the person they are hiring to help them is qualified for the job. And that goes for counselors, too! Not every licensed counselor has significant career counseling experience so do a little digging to be sure you are getting a good match.
Career Counselors offer assistance with:
- Identifying strengths, interests and priorities
- Understanding personality type as it relates to job choices
- Finding career paths and work environments that are the right fit
- Overcoming roadblocks to finding a direction and making tough decisions
- Deciding if a change of job, employer, career path or industry makes sense
- Plotting a course and establishing a time frame for a change
- Planning a job search strategy
- Writing effective resumes and cover letters
- Building and interacting with a network of contacts
- Preparing for interviews
- Troubleshooting a job search that is not productive
- Evaluating and negotiating job offers and salary
- Dealing with issues on the job, such as politics or a difficult boss
- Asking for raises or promotions
- Mapping out a plan for long-range career development
Counselors do not typically do job placement, that is, they do not find jobs for clients. They may, however, suggest helpful resources such as networking groups and job fairs to help clients find jobs.