Career counseling, career guidance and career coaching are similar in nature to other types of counseling or coaching, such as marriage or psychological counseling. What unites all types of professional counseling is the role of practitioners, who combine giving advice on their topic of expertise with counseling techniques that support clients in making complex decisions and facing difficult situations. The focus of career counseling is generally on issues such as career exploration, career change, personal career development and other career related issues.

Career counselors serve as teachers, confidants, and advisors to their clients. They help people examine their interests, styles, and their abilities to find and enter the profession that best suits them. They can be helpful to people who have yet to choose a career and people who are unhappy with their choice.

Working With A Career Counselor

Early career counseling sessions explore the history and behavior of the client to help the clients understand their own motivations and desires more thoroughly. Working with younger people, especially, career counselors must understand and appreciate the role of parents and the student’s home environment. An understanding of the client’s peer and familial pressures, along with a familiarity with current events and culture, allow the career counselor to make contact and earn the trust of his or her clients.

After conducting a thorough evaluation of the client’s personality traits, counselors must use their expertise to help clients assess their skills base and direct them to a career wherein those skills may be most profitably employed, both financially and in terms of job satisfaction. Counselors are responsible for knowing what skills are needed in a broad variety of professions, how much they pay, and what a hiring authority will want to see in a successful applicant. They then coach the client through the process of researching fields that match their interests, setting up informational interviews with people to supplement their research, and finally targeting or creating specific job positions that meet their needs. Counselors try to empower the clients to become as active as possible in their search.

People who participate in career counseling can benefit from the use of aptitude tests, or career testing. Career testing is often done online and provides insightful and relatively objective information about which jobs may be suitable for the test taker based on combination of their interests, values and skills. Career tests usually provide a list of recommended jobs that match the test takers attributes with those of people with similar personalities who enjoy/are successful at their jobs. There are various ways to test an individual for which field he is suitable, psychometric testing being one among them.

Psychometric testing covers a wide range of skills, interests and values of people and can be of use in career counseling in different ways. For example, the information won from such tests can be of help for the professionals who mentor, coach or counsel individuals. With psychometric testing, there is no pass or fail, but the quality of the information won from the tests can vary. Psychometric testing uses in-depth psychological profiles to assess personality and intellectual levels. Different test companies use different theoretical approaches to testing, such as the psychometric approach, the psychodynamic approach, the social learning approach and the humanist approach. Different test companies have their own methods of testing, some of them being protected with copyrights. Two commonly used assessments are the Strong Interest Inventory and the MBTI, for example. Usually, psychometric testing uses multiple sets of questions relating to personality type, how the test taker would handle aspects of work and home life, what his or her goals are for the future and his or her strengths and weaknesses. If the test taker is honest and the employed tests follow scientific standards, the results should be fairly accurate and useful for career counseling activities.

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