Developing a therapeutic relationship

As with all forms of counseling, career counseling is most successful when the counselor forms a meaningful connection with their client. While many career counselors use career aptitude tests and personality tests, the top career counselors have completed a clinical mental health master’s program and use their clinical training to go beyond simple vocational guidance. They work to understand their client’s worries, interests, fears, and desires on a level that is much deeper than what any test might reveal. By establishing a therapeutic relationship with their clients, the top career counselors can provide fuller support and guidance.

Creating room for self-exploration

Top career counselors don’t just hand their clients the results of vocational tests. They get to know their clients and, most importantly, they give their clients the space to talk through the issues affecting their career and career choices. A good career counseling session can be a gateway to self-discovery, but only if the career counselor is skilled in helping his or her client open avenues of self-reflection. For the top career counselors, data like vocational assessments are only the beginning.

Defining goals

The top career counselors set specific goals with their clients and redirect their clients toward those goals if the conversation drifts too far toward other concerns. That said, career counselors might ask clients to describe their perfect job, or consider where they would like to be 5 years from now. Career counseling professionals might also focus their clients’ attention on what is important to them in life and what they enjoy accomplishing at work. All of these questions can help define a career-seeker’s goals.

Understanding the job market

It does little good to be told you’re well suited for a career that is in steep decline. Likewise, there’s not much utility in being told you’re well suited for a career you lack the skills for. The top career counselors know this and work hard to stay abreast of the issues facing the job market. They pay close attention to the ways automation, outsourcing, downsizing, and global competition affect job opportunities and specific careers. Additionally, they understand the skills and attitudes workers need to succeed in a modern employment environment. Often, counselors work with their clients to make sure their clients are competent with technology, accepting of diversity, prepared to handle modern job insecurities, and capable of maintaining the level of occupational awareness needed to avoid falling behind or becoming redundant.

Helping turn life themes into career goals

The best career counselors don’t just recommend possible professions. They help their clients uncover a previously unrealized passion for specific careers. To do this, career counselors take a holistic approach, viewing each client as a whole person and then seeking out life themes that have a natural connection to a career for which the client is qualified. There’s little long-term benefit to entering a career that you’re good at but dislike. The best approach is to find a career that’s in tune with your abilities and your life goals. The top career counselors can help you do just that.