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    At some point during your career, you may ask yourself: What is career guidance and counseling? And what does a career counselor do? Perhaps you are just starting out and are struggling to decide on a career path. Or perhaps you are interested in a career change or are struggling to stay motivated at work or do not feel comfortable in your current work environment. Whatever the case, working with a career counselor can help you identify and reach your career goals and maximize your career development efforts.

    Career counseling techniques help people reflect on their career choices, opportunities, and professional goals. While working with a career counselor, you will reflect on your interests, talents, goals, and values. You will also be prompted to consider how these factors have the potential to work together in a career that‘s right for you. 

    A successful career takes careful reflection and planning, especially in this day and age. By identifying your career goals and making a comprehensive career plan with a career counselor, you are more likely to find the right career and pursue meaningful career growth opportunities. 

    What is career counseling?

    So what, exactly, is the meaning of career counseling? And why do people hire career counselors? Career counselors offer a variety of career-related services and valuable career information. Some career counselors may be well-versed in many services, whereas other career counselors may specialize in only a few. Most career counselors have master’s degrees and may be accredited through the NCDA (National Career Development Association).

    Career counseling definition

    According to the American Psychological Association, the definition of career counseling is as follows: 

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    Consultation, advice, or guidance specifically focused on a person’s career opportunities, most often provided in educational, work, and some community settings. It also may have the specific goal of enabling a person to change the direction of his or her career. The counseling will take into account an individual’s preferences, intelligence, skill sets, work values, and experience. Such counseling is offered to groups as well as individuals. Also called career guidance.


    What is the purpose of career counseling? 5 goals of career counseling

    Now that we’ve defined career counseling, what are some common goals of career counseling?

    In a career counseling session, you will engage in career exploration by reflecting on your current career and what you hope for in a new career or future career.


    Find a fulfilling career

    One of the main objectives of attending career counseling sessions is to find a fulfilling career. A career that naturally incorporates your interests, talents, values, and goals.


    Engage in meaningful career development

    Career counseling isn’t just for young professionals. During career counseling sessions you may brainstorm ways to continue to engage in meaningful career development so that you will continue to further your education, increase your job skills, and gain promotions.


    Maintain a healthy work-life balance

    You spend a substantial amount of time at work. This is why it is important to find a positive work environment and work culture so that you can achieve a healthy work-life balance. It’s also important to be able to identify signs of a toxic work environment so that you can maintain your overall sense of wellness and mental health.


    Reach your professional goals

    It’s important to feel continuously engaged in your career by having something to work towards. You may already have clearly defined goals you need help obtaining. Or you may need help identifying and reflecting on your professional goals.


    Increased salary

    Many people who employ career counselors are eager for a return on investment (i.e. they want a higher salary). Working with a career counselor may help you earn promotions or otherwise know when to ask for a raise.

    Who is career counseling for?

    Career counseling isn’t just for high school students, college students, and young professionals. It’s for everyone. Whether you are trying to decide on a college major or are wondering how to change careers at 40, a career counselor can help guide you through the decision-making process and help you reach your career goals.

    What does a career counselor do?

    So what is a career counselor and what do career counselors do? What is a career advisor? This depends on the particular career counselor that you hire and the particular services that they offer.

    Some of these services may include: 

    • Writing and editing resumes and cover letters
    • Assisting with job searches
    • Providing career assessments
    • Providing personality type assessments (Myers-Briggs type indicator)
    • Providing networking strategies
    • Reviewing ​​LinkedIn profiles
    • Helping you reflect on your career goals and career path
    • Providing a guide to a successful job interview
    • Providing salary negotiation strategies

    5 benefits of career counseling

    Let’s take a look at some practical benefits of engaging in career counseling services. Learn how and why career counseling is integral in the world of work.


    Matching personality traits to career opportunities

    By using various career and personality assessments (such as the Myers-Briggs type indicator), your career counselor can help you identify potential careers that match your overall interests and personality type. This will likely increase your workplace satisfaction in the future.


    Learning about career options

    Similar to a guidance counselor in high school, a career counselor will be able to provide you with lots of job-related resources, research, and opportunities. It’s possible that you may not have even heard of your ideal career! A career counselor is a trained professional who is well-connected and familiar with various industries. Use their expertise to help you reflect, brainstorm, and plan for your ideal career.


    Gaining networking skills

    Networking is one of the most valuable professional tools available for you, especially if you are interested in engaging in professional growth, career development, or are looking for a career change. It’s important to know how to form and maintain meaningful and productive professional relationships so that more job opportunities will be available to you in the future.


    Gaining job interview skills

    Gaining a job interview is an important achievement, but in many ways, it is only the first step. To receive a job offer, you will need to have strong job interview skills. A career counselor can provide you with valuable tips and strategies for success. From discussing the effects of body language to practicing some of the most popular job interview questions, a career counselor can help you feel prepared for all of your job interviews.


    Learning salary negotiation tactics

    Learning how to negotiate for a higher salary is an important part of the hiring process. That said, this process can feel overwhelming. Having a professional to help guide you through this process can make a huge difference in your career and finances.

    What to expect from your personal career advisor

    Although each career counselor will likely have their own method, there are a few things that should remain consistent. Let’s take a look at a few things you can expect from your personal career advisor.


    Provide personality and aptitude tests

    Personality tests can provide key insights into your professional strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has different manners of thinking, problem-solving, and engaging with the world. By gaining insight into your personality traits, you can get a better idea of which careers you are naturally suited for.


    Discuss your interests and talents

    It’s important to discuss your interests and talents. You may be successful in a career, but if it doesn’t incorporate your interests and talents, you likely won’t feel satisfied for long. By discussing your interests and talents with your career counselor, together you can brainstorm meaningful careers.


    Discuss your values and goals

    Similar to your interests and talents, if your career doesn’t incorporate your values and goals, you likely won’t feel satisfied for long. To feel fulfilled and achieve a healthy work-life balance, your values need to be in alignment with your career.


    Discuss career options available to you

    Career counselors will provide you with career-related research, resources, and opportunities. Career counselors are familiar with the world of work and are well-connected. Use their connections and expertise to explore career options available for you.


    Provide career-related resources

    From aptitude tests and career assessments to a list of common second interview questions and networking events, there are endless resources a career counselor may provide you with.

    Key takeaways on career counseling

    Working with a career counselor can help you find greater job satisfaction, whether you decide to remain in your current career or pursue a new career. By evaluating your interests, talents, values, and goals, a career counselor can help you actively reflect on your career goals. They can also help you make a comprehensive plan to reach these goals. If you feel like you could benefit from the help of a career counselor, reach out to learn more about our services


    Still have questions or concerns? Read the frequently asked questions and their accompanying answers below for more insight.

    Career guidance and counseling can help you feel purposeful in your career decisions. To pursue a fulfilling career and engage in professional development, you need to have goals. A career counselor can help you identify these goals and make practical suggestions as to how to complete each goal.
    Career counseling therapy is when an accredited therapist uses career counseling techniques to help their clients understand their past career choices and mental health. A career counselor will also address any underlying issues and concerns so that the client may focus on creating meaningful work opportunities and choices in the future.

    Holistic career counseling is a comprehensive counseling model that provides lots of different services and resources. Likely, it will include assistance with your resume, cover letter, job interview, networking, and salary negotiation. Holistic career counseling also places a specific emphasis on work-life balance and pursuing a career that aligns with your personal values and feels meaningful to you.

    You will often see these two terms used interchangeably. This, however, is misguided as there are important differences between the two. Firstly, a career counselor primarily focuses on your job history and tries to identify ongoing challenges and obstacles to help you meaningfully move forward. A career coach, however, will focus on your present situation and provide actionable steps to reach your goals, similar to a life coach. It is also important to note that career counselors and career coaches often have different qualifications and credentials.