Finding the Right Career Resources for You
- Kevin & Kay Marie Brennfleck National Certified Career Counselors
- 2003 9 Aug
Are you thinking about a career change, but don’t know what type of work would fit you best? If you are like most people, you are confused about even how to go about figuring out which career path to take. (If this describes you, we invite you to read our Career Master Planning article for an introduction to the career planning process). There are many types of career resources competing for your attention – books, recruiters and employment agencies, schools, career counselors, career consultants, career coaches, career testing services, etc.! This article addresses some of the resources we have been asked about most frequently over the years. Becoming knowledgeable about different resources will help you choose the resources that will best meet your career planning needs.
"SelfHelp" Books: The majority of career self-help books relate to job searching (resume writing, interviewing, networking, etc.). There are fewer books that deal with career assessment and exploration. "What Color is Your Parachute?" by Richard Bolles is undoubtedly the best known career resource, selling over 20,000 copies a month, and includes some self-assessment and well as strategies for conducting a successful job search.
Books are terrific sources of information! For a great number of people, however, a book is not sufficient help to guide them in making a career decision and career transition. There are two primary reasons this is true. First, successfully moving through the stages of career planning requires both information and skills skills in assessing your design thoroughly and accurately, skills in identifying the best options and gathering sufficient information about them, good skills in decisionmaking, and skills in finding job openings and marketing yourself effectively. For most people, reading a book is not an effective way to learn skills.
Secondly, career and job changes are scary for most people! When people approach the edges of their "comfort zones," and their anxiety begins to increase, it is tempting to put the book back on the shelf (or throw it across the room!). Many people need the support and guidance of a career professional to make a successful job or career change. A guide is very helpful when you are in unfamiliar territory! (Richard Bolles recognizes the value of career counselors, listing career counselors across the country. We are listed as career counselors who work from a religious point of view.)
So, if you have one (or more) copies of "Parachute" or other career books, and still are stuck, don't feel bad! You may just need some additional resources in your career planning!
Employment Agencies, Recruiters, Headhunters, Etc.: These types of resources can be useful if you are job searching, and are looking for work that is similar to what you have done before. Don't be a passive jobseeker, however, relying an agency to do your job hunting for you. Overall, agencies place only about 512 percent of the people who come to them for assistance! If you are only using the classified ads (including those on the Internet) and agencies, your job search will likely take much longer than it needs to!
Are you, however, hoping that an agency can help you get out of the type of work you are currently doing and move into a new field? If so, please understand that helping people make career changes is not of interest to them. Agencies get paid when they successfully fill a slot, and to fill that slot they are going to look for a candidate with a strong track record in that type of work. They are not in the business of helping you to break into a new line of work, or helping you figure out what type of work will fit you best.
Career "Test and Tell" Services: This category include services such as Johnson O'Connor's aptitude testing, career testing offered by community colleges, and "Career Direct" from Larry Burkett's Christian Financial Concepts organization. Career "test and tell" services offer you the opportunity to take a battery of tests and receive feedback in person from a counselor or by mail (as with "Career Direct"). The information received from such a service is a part of the assessment stage of career planning. Although testing results usually indicate general directions for career exploration, they do not lead you through the exploration and decision making processes. They can only provide a foundation of information to use in your exploration and decision making. Many people need professional assistance to know how to best utilize the results from their career tests in their career planning. (In response to the desire to help clients maximize the use of the "Career Direct" information, Life Pathways has developed a Career Consulting Network of counseling and career professionals who have been certified in the use of the Career Direct assessment. We are a part of this Network, and have been certified to help people better understand and use their Career Direct results.)
Education: When people are thinking about a career change, often their first thought is, "I'll go back to school!" The problem is that many times people return to school without a clear occupational goal. They assume that completing a bachelor's or master's degree will somehow bring them career clarity. But, unfortunately, what often happens was described by a recent client. As she stated, "Now I have my MBA and I still don't know what I want to do!"
Education is expensive in terms of both time and money. Most adults who return to school don't want to take classes just for the sake of taking classes. Yes, they want to learn, but they also want to move ahead in their current career or transition into a new field. It is critical that before you begin an educational program, you have a clear vocational goal AND you have researched the field and know this particular educational program is the best means of preparation.
Education should be a part of the fourth stage of career planning: implementing choices. It is not the best or most effective way of identifying and exploring career options. Career planning should precede education, so that you know you are making the best investment of both your time and money!
Career Counseling Services: If you are serious about wanting professional assistance in determining your best career path, and in making a job or career change, career counseling with a competent professional will be your best investment. Why? Because career counselors are the only type of professionals who have been trained to guide you through the career planning stages. Also, (unlike employment agencies) we do not have a vested interest in fitting you into a particular slot. Our goal is to help you find the career fit that is best for you.
In choosing a career counselor, we recommend considering these three factors: qualifications, experience and faith perspective. To find a qualified professional, look for someone who is a National Certified Career Counselor (NCCC), which is the highest level of certification for the profession. To attain this certification, the individual first must become a National Certified Counselor, and then meet the additional requirements for the specialty career certification.
In addition to a career counselor's qualifications, ask about the type of clientele with whom they work. A counselor, for example, who works primarily with high school or college students may not be right for you if you are a working adult, as the career issues are quite different. And, we also believe that if you are dealing with issues of finding your mission/calling, God's will for your life and other theological questions that are intertwined with career planning, you will be best served by working with a Christian career counselor who understands and is experienced in helping clients work through these issues.
Working with a career counselor can be the key to your success! If you are interested in exploring career counseling for yourself, see our offer of a free consultation session. We would consider it a privilege to work with you in helping you find your career niche!