“What do I want to do with the rest of my life?” “How do I get more out of my current work situation? “How can I find a job that is more meaningful (or has a higher salary, or is a better match for my skills and interests)?”
If you find yourself asking yourself questions such as these, you might find career counseling to be of great assistance. Often meeting with someone knowledgeable and experienced in career exploration can help you see your current situation from a new perspective. Career counseling can also afford you with “real data” about yourself that you can use in decision-making for the future.
A career counselor will talk with you about your educational and career history as well as your aims and dreams in life. Be prepared to be asked to give an overview of your life up to now: where you grew up, where you went to school (& why), what subjects and activities most interested you (especially how you became interested in your current career/job situation). The counselor will also be interested in hearing you talk about your family and community and both the direct and indirect “messages” you may have received from them about work and various careers and professions.
Further discussion will center on how you make decisions and how you have explored various options in your life thus far. Importantly the counselor will be listening for the things you may have been or are currently “passionate about.” And, do you have the opportunity to do those things now? Where? Often the best match between a person and a career setting is where ones’ skills, interests, values, personality and intellect overlap. The careers most residing in that “overlap” would provide the most useful area in which to focus.
In addition, there are many career related assessment instruments that may be useful in getting “your compass reset.” A professional in the career counseling field can help you determine the inventory most relevant to your situation. The Myers Briggs Type Indicator and the Campbell Interest and Skill Inventory are just two examples of a large group of inventories that can help you assess your interests, values, skills, and personality traits related to career and life satisfaction.
Becoming involved in a career counseling process, with an experienced professional (often no more than 3 – 5 sessions), can help you have a much clearer and confident view toward what you should be doing in your work. And, knowing what’s important to you can be an invaluable asset in developing both your career and your life.
For more information
- Occupational Outlook Handbook Occupational Outlook Handbook is published every two years and available in community libraries and book stores and on line. It has excellent, in depth and balanced descriptions of major US career categories. It gives updated information on sub-specialties, related occupations, educational requirements, salaries, job outlook and links to professional association websites. Google Occupational Outlook Handbook or go to www.bls.gov/oco/.
- The Onet provides information on hundreds of careers. The site allows you to see related occupations at a single glance and gives information on key skills, values and educational requirements (provided by the US Department of Labor Statistics).
- Job Hunter’s Bible: Companion website to What Color Is Your Parachute, by Richard N. Bolles – the gold standard career exploration and job hunting guide
- “Do What You Are” (4th Edition), 2007, by Paul Tieger & Barbara Barron. This is well worth it if you are familiar with your Myers Briggs Type and want to learn how to best apply your personality temperament to a rewarding career. More info at www.personalitytype.com
- LinkedIn: In addition to the “monster” websites out there, this one seeks to provide the introverts (& extroverts) among us a way to do networking on the web. It is especially useful at helping people tap into their alumni in their geographic area for networking.