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Career Counseling: A Career Counselor’s Approach

career counselor approach

Career counseling is a complex process with many moving parts, as is the job search. Tailoring resumes and cover letters to better help the client’s audience understand their value proposition, enhancing digital brand, applying online, networking, assistance with interview preparation, salary and offer negotiation are all common themes within the career counseling process. 

A Unique Approach

All clients are unique, however, and therefore I avoid a cookie-cutter approach. My approach is to first establish rapport, asking thought-provoking questions, and listening to the client to draw out and gain an understanding of the client’s background, skills, interests, needs and wants. Occasionally, career assessments will be offered as a means to help in expanding the client’s thinking around career options. 

I find that the single most requested service is resume assistance and that collaborating with clients in the resume writing process can contribute to rebuilding a client’s self-worth, especially after job loss. Storytelling about their accomplishments and activities they were most proud of throughout their career or schooling helps clients to get in touch with and recall their knowledge, skills, and strengths.

The Importance of Networking

While not always the most popular technique, networking is and has always been part of process. I encourage clients to consider the job search an interactive process with the assistance and support of others. I encourage clients to practice leveraging and building upon their existing networks by incorporating modern digital tools, such as LinkedIn and other social media, in addition to the more traditional means of communication, including emails, phone calls, job fairs, hiring events, employer information sessions, meet-up groups, joining associations, and volunteering, as well as simply getting to know their neighbors. 

Know The Employer

Applying online then waiting for a call can result in missed opportunities. I coach clients around building a target list of employers to focus on each week. Researching employers online provides some insight, however, thoughtful, planned, and strategic networking, such as inviting others into information-gathering sessions, can better assist clients in determining cultural fit and mission/values alignment, which is important job selection criteria for sure.

After all, why join a company without a strong reason to be there or without knowing something about the employer? Employers are anxious to know what motivated a job candidate to apply for work with them. I pose that question to my clients…challenging them to justify their motivation and encourage clients to be more selective in applying for work with employers they really desire to support.


By Pam Harris, Career Counselor, JFCS Career Development Center