As a society we are constantly bombarded with sometimes unsolicited advice whether we like it or not.With the rise of social media we are inundated on a daily basis with advice on almost every subject – weight loss, breast feeding, teeth whitening, fashion, cars, medicine and health. Given we are constantly lapping up what feels like a tsunami of information from our surroundingsit is not a surprise that we get stuck with our decision-making. During these times, it is only natural that we seek wisdom from our beloved friends and family who are quick to respond with well-intentioned anecdotes which sometimes confuse us even further (e.g., don’t become a hair dresser, you know what happened to Auntie Lorraine she has RSI in her arm!)

Our need to talk things through with others and collect information to help us make a decision is almost default. It is surprising then, that many people do not think to speak with a career professional (also referred to in the industry as carer consultant, career advisor, career psychologist and career counsellor) for career decisions. I mean really, if you are going to invest 3+ years at uni for a degree (and rack up a huge government fee debt of 20K+) wouldn’t you want to check in with someone before committing to that pathway? Or if you were torn between two options for example vet nursing and personal training, wouldn’t you want to speak with a professional for peace of mind, instead of relying on your cousin’s anecdotal advice about her local vet nurse or basing a decision on a conversation you overhead on a bus? (Yes, this actually happens). Just some food for thought.

When you think about the amount of time we spend working, or even the time (and money!) we invest in getting qualified for certain careers, it seems counter intuitive that professional advice is not commonly sought to facilitate such an important life decision. It is certainly possible that many are unaware career counselling exists, let alone what it provides in terms of career development. Even clients who have been explicitly referred to me from other professionals have outright asked what career counselling is. Once explained, clients have expressed sheer delight and surprise, stating that they had been aware of such a valuable service.

Career counselling – so what is it?

Career counselling is about:

  • The facilitation of career decision-making through a confidential and professional platform using counselling frameworks based on research
  • Working through decision-making barriers
  • Placing careful consideration on the unique circumstances of clients
  • Raising self-awareness which includes helping clients uncover meaning, working towards an understanding of how work fits into their life, identifying connections and themes in previous decision making and experiences
  • Exploring and expanding on study and work options
  • Ensuring clients are well informed about study and job options
  • Practical support with job/course applications and interview coaching
  • Providing clients with concrete steps empowering them to take action
  • Helping clients learn about and accept change as part of decision-making
  • Teaching decision-making skills which clients can replicatein future decisions.

What career counselling IS NOT

  • About diagnosing or treating mental health concerns. Working through career related stressors or barriers can alleviate certain mental health symptoms, but career counselling does not claim to provide clinical treatment
  • ‘Just’ advising – Yes, career counselling involves advising and the provision of information but it is more focussed on the process of facilitating decision-making through counselling techniques and frameworks.

The benefits

The benefits of career counselling are undeniable. I have worked with many clients who have referred to it as ‘magic’. The process itself is not quite so elusive and there is no crystal ball or fortune telling involved. It is however, a process. A process which provides each client with the respectful ear of a professional and someone to help them work through the complex interplay between work and life by asking the right questions along the way.

How to find a career development professional

A basic search online (with keywords such as career advisor Sydney, career consultant, career advisor, career psychologist, and career psychologist Sydney) will reveal a number of career development professionals. The career development field is a mixed bag which includes professionals from varied backgrounds (e., business, engineering, teaching etc) who have made their own career transitions into career development roles. The counselling field overall in Australia is not a regulated, and although there is a professional counselling association, there is no regulatory body which governs qualification requirements for people who work under the ‘counsellor’ title (this is distinct to psychologists who work as counsellors, as the psychology field is regulated).

Before looking for a career development professional, consider exactly what you require and evaluate your needs against the professionals approach and background (including qualifications if you are interested in this – probably most important if you are seeking career counselling). It is important you find a career professional you ‘gel with’ and feel comfortable talking to so it is a good idea to call up and have a quick chat about your situation. This way you can get a vibe about how well you could work with the professional as well as a better understanding about how they can potentially help you.

If you are at a crossroads with your study or work, can you afford not to speak with a career development professional? What are you waiting for?

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