What is a Career Counselor?
When you think of career counseling you most likely think of getting help with your resume and cover letter in a college career center. But there is so much more to it than that. The counseling part helps you figure out where you want to be and where those resumes need to go.
Decide what career success means to you. What you may define as success may be different than what I have defined as success in my career. Some people define their success by salary others by job duties. Consider these 6 things:
- Salary – Salary can be a motivator for career choice for many people. Unfortunately, this can lead people to pursue careers that make them unhappy. Of course, realistically, salary does have to be a part of your decision when accepting a job offer, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be how you define success or choose your career path.
- Status – For some people having a career that is well recognized is the most important thing when they search for a job. It makes them puff out their chest when they can say something like “I work on wall street” (well maybe that isn’t so prestigious anymore…). The kicker is that many times choosing a job based on the chest puff factor can lead you down an unhappy path. Then people stay in those jobs because they get comfortable, are well paid, and feel secure. The problem is they come home too tired to enjoy their family and too stressed to enjoy life. You have to decide if status is important to you, and if so, what career you can choose that will allow you to attain status and maintain balance.
- Enjoying your work – There are going to be two groups of people out there: those who read this and say “Of course I want to enjoy my work, duh!” and those who say “Work is work. I don’t need to enjoy work, as long as I have a steady job and get paid.” There are strong arguments for both. There is a particularly strong argument for the second group of people in an economy when so many people are struggling to find jobs. I’m not saying that everyone is going to find a job that they love so much, they sing about it on their way there every day and come home with a smile every night. The key is to find a job where you like the majority of the work enough, that the few parts that you don’t like are not a big deal. Finding this blissful balance is tricky but very possible. Is this an important part of your definition of success?
- Liking your co-workers and work environment– O.K. so you won’t actually know your co-workers until you work with them. But, you can have an idea of the type of people you want to work with and where you can find them. If you wanted to work in politics and you are a democrat you certainly wouldn’t go seeking out a position campaigning for a republican. This should apply when you are making career choices, too! For instance, if you want to work in education but you are a free spirit who enjoys connecting with parents and students in a more casual environment, you may not want to go work at private prep school. Things there might be very structured and follow very specific rules. Your boss and even the parents you deal with may want to hear very little from you and just expect to do as told. So, you may be in the field you want –education- but you may be unhappy with your surroundings and colleagues.
- Being the BOSS – Being the boss is important to a lot of people. But unless you are starting your own business, or have a ton of experience, you probably aren’t going to start out as the boss. Some people just get so sick of following orders that they are determined to be in charge the next time around. But have you considered what it means to be in charge? Being in charge comes with a lot of responsibility, can come with long hours, and can cause high stress levels. This may not be true in all fields but do your research and take a look at how your current boss lives before you make this your priority.
- Flexibility in schedule – 9-5 is not the only option for working hours. There are options for different shifts, the opportunity to spend some time working from home, or even working longer hours fewer days a week. Having a flexible schedule is particularly important to a lot of parents who want to bring kids to school and/or pick them up, want the option to leave without scrutiny if there is an emergency at home, and don’t want to feel so overworked that they cannot enjoy their family when they are home. Is this your biggest concern when searching for a job or starting your career?
If you could pick just one of these which would you choose to help you to define success in your career? This is the first step on your career counseling journey!
Career vs Job vs Calling
Why do I keep using the word career? Isn’t it just a job? Here are some interesting articles to help you understand the important difference between having a career and having a job:
Career Versus Job – important information for working mothers (Forbes Magazine)
Goal Set: Strive for Career Security vs. Job Security
Job, Career, Calling: Key to Happiness and Meaning at Work?
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