Deciding on a career or course can be really tricky and frustrating. There are professionals out there that are equipped to help you with this decision… But is it worth it?
Deciding upon your career can be a daunting experience. Few of us know where to start. Whether we’re at school and deciding what or where to study, at university and undecided on what subjects to major in, or a recent graduate looking to enter an industry to work in, we become confused with so many possible options or routes.
All of this adds pressure to the already stressful and important decision. Hence the birth and popularity of career guidance ccounsellors and the various services they offer. But is career guidance worth it? Will they help you make important decisions about your future? First, lets start off with the basics: what exactly is ‘career guidance’?
What is Career Guidance?
Career guidance consists of services that help people successfully manage their career development, starting from the very beginning of their studies and career, all the way to retirement. Although this aspect of human development occurs on its own – as we mature and progress through our lives, everyone stands to benefit from assistance through this process, regardless of the situation they find themselves in. Since career guidance counsellors intend to support an individual through his or her entire career, they generally include help with the following situations:
- Choosing a career
- Helping with job searching
- Early, mid- and late-career advice
- Job loss recovery
Perhaps most relevant to you reading this article is the career choice component, so let’s focus on that aspect for the remainder of this article.
A guidance counsellor specifically assesses a student in terms of their skills, strengths and personality, and provides them with a set of recommendations for their career development – based on the findings. They combine their many years’ worth of training and experience with each student’s unique attributes, and provide an informed decision thereafter for a career pathway.
Career guidance counsellors may administer self-assessment instruments or teach their clients how to use self-administered tools, to help them learn about their interests, values, skills and personality type.
The most common instrument used is an aptitude test. This is where a practitioner conducts a test designed to determine a person’s ability in a particular skill or field of knowledge. The results of this comprehensive test are then combined with the counsellor’s own subjective evidence on the person. Advice is given based on these results, whether in the form of verbal communication, or a more detailed report detailing subject selection, tertiary qualification institutions and options.
Who Provides It?
Professionals who provide career guidance include career counsellors and career development facilitators. This can be in the form of an individual working in his or her own capacity or a company that provides such individuals. At some schools, Life Orientation (LO) teachers offer these services to students.
When in university, students can seek career guidance from the career services offered at his or her institution. These are generally located on campus. There are also countless books, YouTube videos and, more recently, brilliant Internet platforms that provide free information on career options. Generally, the most common form of career guidance is one-on-one consulting between guidance counsellor and student.
The selection of the career guidance counsellor is of great importance as they are likely to have a powerful influence over your career development. In addition, choosing a professional with the correct set of skills, experience and knowledge, can help capture the advantages and avoid the disadvantages of career guidance. Let’s discuss these in more detail below.
Advantages of Career Guidance
Career counsellors conduct various aptitude and career assessment tests that have been developed to identify the weaknesses and strengths of the candidates. With such guidance from a professional, students are able to identify their strengths and direct their careers with those in mind, while avoiding working in a profession that they won’t enjoy.
Many career guidance counsellors do not only help students choose a particular career path, but also equip them with the knowledge to determine it on their own. They educate individuals about how to explore occupations that are most suitable based on the information acquired and then teach them how to decide which one is the best choice. This is a skill that can be applied later in life, should the person become disgruntled or unhappy with their work and wish for a change.
Many students have some indication on which industry or profession they would like to start their career in. However, they require some form of validation. Parents and friends can tend to offer bias advice, based on what they believe is best for someone. Career guidance counsellors can provide validation for students who wish to head in a completely different direction.
A major advantage of a career guidance counsellor is that they can offer a clear view about the career options that are available in today’s world. They know which careers are in demand, and those that are in decline. They are able to provide a range of possibilities for students and can explain in detail the opportunities within each of those professions.
A good career guidance counsellor is one who offers support and motivation to the student and encourages them to reach a final decision on their own. As mentioned before, it is a daunting challenge deciding on a career and having constant support from an industry expert goes a long way in easing the process. Emotional support from a career guidance counsellor is also hugely valuable.
For individuals who are searching for a job, generally recent university graduates, career guidance counsellors can help them research prospective opportunities available. They encourage and support individuals throughout the process by helping them with effective interviewing techniques, as well as tips on writing a strong and captivating cover letter and a CV that expresses the candidates strengths in a compelling way.
Disadvantages of Career Guidance
Whilst there are numerous advantages to career guidance counselling, there are a few minor disadvantages. These need to be taken into account whilst determining whether or not to visit a counsellor.
To me, the answer is yes: career guidance is an extremely important endeavour at an early stage of education or a career. The advantages listed in the article significantly outweigh the disadvantages in my opinion. However, I do feel it is important to note that no one besides you can truly understand what profession is best for you. In this sense, a career guidance counsellor that facilitates the process rather than determines the process is what you should look for. You need someone that will help guide you to that final decision, not someone who will make it on your behalf.
I feel that free platforms like this one (FundiConnect) are hugely beneficial for students to get a general overview of the career options available. They should explore these free options thoroughly before paying a career guidance counsellor and going empty-handed with no starting point in mind when meeting them.