We all approach our work life with some level of drive, hopes, and dreams. But for many of us, days, weeks, and years can go by without fully realizing many of those ambitions.
Many of us rely simply on our instincts and perspective when making career decisions, causing us to miss key insights and growth opportunities. Sometimes the sheer volume of career options can feel overwhelming to navigate alone.
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We have news for you: There’s a better way to approach career growth.
Studies show that career counseling can significantly boost career results and satisfaction. Seeing a career counselor can be the difference between spending ten years in a job you don’t want and going for your dream job right away.
Career counselors will help you crystalize your goals, identify potential weaknesses, and snag that perfect position.
Let’s explore everything you need to know about career counselors and how they can benefit your career growth.
What Should I Expect From a Career Counselor?
Career counselors are professional guides trained in helping people identify a career path that fits who they are. Counselors help clients evaluate their own abilities, strengths, weaknesses, and personal goals.
The path for professional career counselor certification typically includes advanced degrees in psychology, counseling, and career coaching.
You should expect to meet with your career counselor one-on-one and spend time first letting them get to know you. They will ask you questions about yourself, your decision-making process, and your work or education history.
Like any counselor, a career counselor designs questions to help you dig deeper and understand more about yourself. Instead of digging into your childhood or personal trauma, a career counselor helps you mine your talent, ambitions, and unique potential in the workplace.
Here’s what you can expect from your career counselor:
- Confidentiality – First and foremost, as with any counselor, your sessions are completely confidential.
- Answer your job-related question – Not even sure where to start? Career counselors can help answer your burning questions about the job market.
- Identify your values, strengths, and interests – What is important to you? What makes you happy and motivated? What are your natural strengths?
- Identify your needs – What are your salary requirements? What are your non-negotiables for a workplace? What kind of work-life balance are you looking for?
- Identify weaknesses or barriers – What’s hard for you? What type of work settings would be a drag on your energy? Do you have any barriers to the type of job you want?
- Improve job-search skills – Develop resumes and cover letters, practice interviews, and pitches, etc.
- Create a plan and develop decision-making skills – You should leave your final session with clarity on your goals and the exact steps and decisions necessary to get there.
A career counselor will always treat you with respect and as the agent of your own success. They may provide formal assessments to help you identify skills, interests, and blind spots or start you on a path toward certification in a field of interest.
How Do I Find the Right Career Counselor?
So you’ve bought into the idea of a career counselor. How do you find the right one?
Matching yourself with the best career counselor for you can seem overwhelming at first. After all, there are tons of options out there, and they might all seem the same.
The best way to start is to ask friends and family if they know of anyone. If you’re a student or recent graduate, start with your guidance office in the school, or ask a trusted teacher or professor.
Even if you aren’t a student, you can call the career center at a local college and ask them for recommendations.
All the counselors listed with these organizations have good credentials and certifications. You can find in-person sessions or even a career counselor online.
Once you match with a counselor, you can ask them directly if they provide references if you don’t feel like a fit.
How Much Does a Career Counselor Cost?
The cost of career counseling varies depending on how much help you feel you need. You can set yourself a limit of sessions or discuss with your counselor how many sessions they feel are necessary.
A single session usually costs anywhere from $75-$150 per hour, depending on the specific counselor and their experience level. Each session is usually one hour.
Sometimes you can find a free career counselor for a single session or through your college or school.
If you just need one or two sessions to help you start your career search or tighten up your job-search pitch, the cost can be pretty low.
However, if you feel like you need some extensive work – identifying skills, talking through challenges and growth areas, processing past workplace troubles, etc. – you may need to budget for a good bit more.
In the end, the cost is in your hands. You can always try one session before making a longer commitment if you need time to decide.
Are Career Counselors Worth It?
Again, this depends on where you are in your career and how stuck you feel.
For people just launching their career, or people looking to transition to a new career path, we highly recommend seeking career counsel. There’s nothing quite like getting a professional, objective perspective on your skills, weaknesses, and potential path.
The work you do with your counselor will also last you the rest of your career, as you’ll develop self-knowledge and decision-making skills.
While it will cost some time and money on the front end, career counseling usually pays off for years to come. A little investment on the front end can get you a better salary, better workplace, and better culture fit. We think it’s worth it!
Career counseling is a savvy step for anyone launching their career, transitioning to a new job, or simply wondering if there’s more out there.
Career counselors are certified and trained counselors who can help you identify a path that syncs up with your skills, values, and goals.
Career counseling is an investment in you. Ultimately, to us, that’s a worthwhile endeavor – nothing makes a stronger career than knowing your own worth.