What is Career Development and Career Counseling?

How Career Counseling can help me!

Should I go to college or should I go and learn a trade? I am not really be satisfied with my job anymore, should I find a new career? I need to re-enter the workforce but where do I start? What do I do? I just found out I am getting laid off, what am I going to do? What am I going to do after I graduate from high school? I am planning to go to college but what should I major in?  I feel like I have no direction in my life when it comes to a career.  Maybe you have had questions like these before. Have you ever considered seeing a Career Counselor, a trained professional who can assist you in making some important decisions about your life and career?

What is Career Development?    

Career development is more than just deciding on a major and what job you want to get when you graduate. It really is a lifelong process. Throughout your life you will change, situations will change, and you will continually have to make career and life decisions. The goal of Career Counseling is to not only help you make the decisions you need to make now, but to give you the knowledge and skills you need to make future career and life decisions.

Career development is the process that forms a person’s work identity. It is a significant part of human development and spans over the individual’s entire lifetime, beginning when the individual first becomes aware of how people make a living. For example, when a child notices that some people are doctors, others are firefighters, and some are carpenters, it signals the start of this process. It continues as that person begins to explore occupations and ultimately decides what career to pursue him- or herself. Career development doesn’t end there. After you choose a profession, you must then get the required education and training, apply for and find employment, and ultimately advance in your career. For most people, it will also include changing careers and jobs at least once during their work lives, but probably more often than that.

There also isn’t a set age for when it will begin, some people will start to think about occupational choices very early in life, while others won’t give this subject much thought until they are relatively close to having to decide how they will earn money. While many individuals go through this process independently, almost everyone can benefit greatly from getting expert career guidance. Advice from a career counselor or other similarly trained specialist, or taking a class in school that helps with career development, allows you forge a more satisfying and successful career path. This type of intervention can begin as early as elementary school, and it should continue throughout adulthood. Many people find themselves in need of professional advice as they encounter problems or must make decisions about their careers, for instance when they are thinking of looking for a new job or changing occupations.

What can I expect from a Career Counselor?

They will help you figure out who you are and what you want out of your education, your career, and your life. Be someone for you to talk to about your thoughts, ideas, feelings, and concerns about your career and educational choices, who will help you sort out, organize, and make sense of your thoughts and feelings. Help you identify the factors influencing your career development, and help you assess your interests, abilities, and values. Help you locate resources and sources of career information. Help you to determine next steps and develop a plan to achieve your goals. The Career Counselor will not tell you what to do, or tell you what you should major in or what career you should pursue. The Career Counselor may conduct a series of interest, skill and personality assessments designed to help elicit information about what careers best suit an individual, will explain and discuss test results, and design a strategy to help the client move forward on a selected career path.  In North Carolina all Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC, LPCA, and LPCS) have been trained to provide Career Counseling and assist clients with Career Development plans. A high school guidance counselor may assist students before applying to a college, and a college counselor is available to assist students in college before choosing or changing majors. Career counseling can help anyone who wishes to change careers, leave work altogether, or explore ways to be more satisfied with a current career.

What Influences Our Career Choices?                                                                                                         

Of course our families and family traditions, our friends, those who have had influence over you such teachers, mentors, and clergy may influenced your decision making of a career choice in life. And certainly our talents and gifts may influence us as well. Do you know that personality and personality types such extravert or introvert may also influence your career choices and your personality may be one of the best indicators of the field of work and what type of job you should pursue within that field? Knowing and understanding our own personalities may help you make some of the best career choices in your lifetime.

When your personality matches your career it is believed this will make you the most satisfied and happy at work. A study conducted at the University of Zurich found that people “who can apply their personal character strengths in their careers, experience more enjoyment, and meaning at work.”

This Zurich study calls these personal character strengths “signature strengths”.  These strengths are “particularly distinctive for a person” and something “he or she likes to use frequently.” Signature strengths can be regarded as friendliness, self-control, kindness – characteristics that you exhibit and practice daily. According to the study, people generally have three to seven signature strengths and the more strengths an employee can actually use in the workplace, the more satisfied and productive he or she is.

The study recommends using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Instrument (MBTI) to discover your strongest personality traits. These tests tend to define you as, for example, a ‘realistic’ type or an ‘artistic’ type. Based on your tendency to lean towards a certain type, the tests then provide a list of careers that might suit you best.

Taking stock of yourself and your traits will not only be helpful on a personal level, but doing so may also give you an advantage when applying to job postings and interviewing. Knowing what works for you, and also knowing that employers are increasingly assessing personality types, will allow you to showcase your best attributes and also ask appropriate questions concerning workplace environments.

Commonly Used Assessments in Career Counseling:

Many Career Counseling professionals often administer the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Instrument (MBTI) and the Strong Interest Inventory to help their career clients understand both their personality and their preferences.

Your results from the MBTI will provide a profile report highlighting 16 personality types so that you can verify your best-fit type. The MBTI reports tell you your preference for each of four pairs: Extraversion or Introversion E or I ; Sensing or Intuition S or N; Thinking or Feeling T or F; Judging or Perceiving J or P.  The four preferences together make up your whole type. There are 16 possible personality types. Some types are more common than others and studies have been done to determine the breakdown in percentages of the MBTI types in the general population.

The Strong Interest Inventory contains 291 items that ask users about their preferences in regard to occupations, subject areas, activities, leisure activities, people and characteristics. Your Strong Interest Inventory yields a report presented in six sections known as General Occupational Themes (GOT). These six sections represent the personality types that most people fall into and are based on a persons’ interests and approaches to life situations.  The six sections are: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional. These two assessments coupled together can help career clients know themselves better and find occupations that will better fit their personalities and interest.

So if you are in the crossroads of trying to decide what job you should be in, regardless if you’re a high school student trying to decide on colleges and majors or a seasoned worker/employee looking to make changes, changes that is not just as in the means to make money but helping you make choices that may benefit you a lifetime and career choices. You may want to contact Sure Hope Counseling and Training Center and get an appointment with one of our Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC and LPCA) and start working on your career development and career planning.

Jim Katsoudas