How To Get Help From A Career Counselor (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Nov. 24, 2020

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If you remember talking to your guidance counselor in high school, you’ll know the value of unbiased, professional advice. Maybe you were struggling with the classes you wanted to take or what you were going to do after you graduated, and they gave you some sound insight. If nothing else, counselors can help you think through your options and come to educated decisions.

The same thought process can be applied when thinking about your career options. After all, being in the process of choosing a career, deciding whether you should change careers, re-entering the workforce, job hunting, or recovering from a job loss can all be stressful and overwhelming decisions.

Luckily, just as a guidance counselor may have helped you in the past, a career counselor can provide you with the advice and insight you need to make those important decisions in the future. Remember, if you’re stuck thinking about your career, there’s no harm in seeking professional and unbiased advice.

In this article, you’ll learn about career counseling and how it can help you tackle all of these potentially difficult decisions.

What Is Career Counseling and Coaching?

Like any other counselor, a career counselor can help you address your current position as it relates to your future choices. They may suggest paths you should take by either giving you new information you weren’t aware of or backing up what you already know. Additionally, unlike your family and friends, a counselor can be a truly unbiased voice in your life.

Ultimately, career counseling is a service designed to help you figure out an ideal professional path. Regardless of your field, major, background, or experience level, career counselors provide applicable guidance.

Remember that it’s the career counselor’s role to help you understand your options and evaluate challenging professional decisions. Further, when it comes to research, a career counselor can also support you by providing resources, administering tests, and recommending tactics for securing a great job.

How to Choose a Career Guidance Professional

If you’ve decided on utilizing the skills and knowledge of a career counselor, it’s crucial that you choose someone who fits your personality, experience, and needs. Here are some tips to aid your search.

  • Look for personal referrals from friends, relatives, and colleagues

  • Search through the websites of professional associations

  • Request free initial consultations with different counselors

  • Research the credentials of counselors you’re considering

    Job type you want
    Full Time
    Part Time
    Internship
    Temporary
  • Decide whether you’re more comfortable having sessions via phone, e-mail, or in-person

  • Know your schedule and what dates will work for you

With these tips in mind, it’s also essential that you know yourself and have a general idea of what you want. A career counselor can help you, but you should still have general ideas of paths you’d like to take, even if there are major things you’re unsure of.

That being said, be aware of what you know and don’t know. Are you looking for a career counselor because you’d like help with the entire job-search process, or do you simply need help with a specific skill? Here are signs your career counselor will be a good match:

  • The career counselor helps you identify your unique skills

  • The counselor has experience in working with people in your age range and from similar backgrounds

  • You and the career counselor easily form a partnership when mapping out steps to reach your goals

  • The contract between you and the professional specifies the desired outcome of your counseling

If your career counselor fulfills these specifications, they will probably be a good fit for you.

Career Counselor Responsibilities

Once you’ve found the right career counselor for you, it can be useful to know their specific responsibilities.

Career counselors are qualified researchers, advocates, and communicators with the education and training needed to help their clients. Most career coaches complete a master’s degree, and some even pursue doctoral degrees. Therefore, their comprehensive career development education allows them to discuss your potential career path. Some of the responsibilities of career counselors include:

  • Administering and evaluating aptitude and character tests

  • Collaborate with you on applicable and actionable career goals

  • Teach you valuable job search techniques

  • Give insight on building a professional network

  • Demonstrate effective interview techniques and give you specific interview tips

  • Assess and help you improve your resume, cover letters, portfolios, and social media profiles

  • Advise on future certifications and any higher education you might need to achieve your goals

Overall, career counselors utilize their education to provide research, active listening, critical thinking, and problem-solving, helping you shape your goals and develop a professional career plan.

How Can a Career Counselor Help You?

When you consider a career counselor’s responsibilities, there are many ways to help you achieve your goals. Here are some of the most important career-related tasks a counselor can help you with:

  1. Guidance. Regardless of whether you’re looking for assistance in choosing a career path or considering a change to your career path, a career coach can guide you through the process. Your career counselor can help you understand your skill set, identify your professional goals, and give insight into potential career matches.

  2. Assessments. Your career counselor may administer an aptitude test or a personality assessment to shed light on the best potential career options for you. These assessments can help you understand your worldview and decision-making process, which will give you a better idea of what jobs will be a good fit for you.

  3. Resume and cover letter assistance. For any career path, you must apply with a strong resume and cover letter. A career coach can advise on how to structure these documents and what to include in them. For example, they help create an easy-to-read format and identify key skills that will highlight your professional experience.

  4. Interview advice. Making a strong, positive impression during an interview is a crucial step in advancing your career path. Your career coach can give you advice regarding the structure of an interview and help you think of effective answers for common questions by giving you an idea of the personal, professional story you should weave from your experience. Additionally, they can offer you comprehensive tips about preparation, how to dress, and other details that are critical to your interview success.

  5. Desired salary tips. When job hunting, it’s vital that you have an idea of what you could be paid and what you want to be paid. A career counselor can help you understand how your education and job experience will affect your potential salary. With that, they can also give you tips on how you should approach negotiating your salary in interviews.

  6. Job change counseling. Often, you might find yourself in a position where you want to change jobs or change careers. Career counselors can help you approach these decisions thoughtfully and outline the most beneficial options.

Could You Benefit From Career Counseling?

With all this information in mind, here are some signs that you should consider career counseling:

  1. You’re not sure where to begin. Maybe you just graduated and are unsure what to do with your major or don’t know that much about your career options. Fortunately, talking to a career counselor can give you the resources and advice you need to get started.

  2. You’re unhappy with your current field. There’s no need to be ashamed of moving away from your current career to pursue something you’re more interested in. However, when you take on a possibly momentous change, a career counselor can guide you toward success.

  3. You’re seeking advice on how to progress your current career. A counselor can help you maximize your potential growth in a career. With their education and experience, they can help show you potential advancement options and give you an idea of how to get the most out of your current career.

  4. You feel as though you no longer have a defined career path. Even if you had an idea of your goals in the past, it’s okay for you to want to change things going forward. A career counselor can help you map out a new career path so you can regain control of your professional life.

How to Find a Career Counselor

When looking for a career coach, you should start by using the family, friends, or professional sources on the web to locate potential counselors for you. Consider the type of path you’d like to take, so you can find counselors that specialize in your field. The more targeted your guidance will be, the better.

You should also consider your budget and how the fees the career counselor requires will fit in. Sometimes counselors only require a one-time fee, and sometimes they require an ongoing monthly fee. Consider these costs and decide what you can afford.

Finally, you should talk to the coach before you commit to long term sessions or advice. Establish concrete goals and ensure that you and your career coach agree on these ambitions and pathways.

Taking these steps will ensure that you’re matched with a career counselor that fits you.

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Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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