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A vocational counselor or employment counsellor or vocational guidance counsellor , or a career development professional, are professionals engaged in occupational guidance who advise, coach, and supports people who are planning, seeking and managing their life/work direction.
Career development professionals help clients of all ages:
- select education and training programs
- balance work and other life roles
- navigate career transitions and stages
- enhance career satisfaction
- find employment or self-employment opportunities, write résumés, develop portfolios and prepare for interviews.
Working with clients individually or in groups, career development professionals may:
- help people develop a better appreciation of their unique characteristics and how those characteristics relate to career choices
- use various assessment tools to help clients identify their interests, values, beliefs, lifestyle preferences, aptitudes and abilities, and relate them to the world of work
- help clients identify educational requirements and develop training plans
- facilitate career management and career decision-making workshops
- work with clients who have disabilities, language and cultural differences, or other special needs that affect their employment prospects
- help clients deal with barriers to achieving their career plans
- help employed clients plan career laddering within organizations, cope successfully with job dissatisfaction, or make occupational or job changes
- provide current labour market information to help clients make realistic occupational or employment decisions
- market clients to potential employers and help clients find job or work experience placements
- assist clients with implementing effective employment search strategies, writing résumés, and developing career portfolios and interview skills
- plan and implement career and employment-related programs
- refer clients to appropriate services to address their particular needs
- work co-operatively with community groups and agencies, businesses and other organizations involved in providing career planning resources
- use computers to write reports and proposals, and research information on the Internet
- perform related administrative tasks such as keeping records.
Career development professionals may work in a variety of settings but usually work in offices where they can conduct private interviews with clients and in classrooms or boardrooms where they conduct group sessions. Depending on the organization, their hours of work may include some evening and weekend work.
Career development professionals need the following characteristics:
- a genuine interest in and respect for people from all walks of life
- patience, understanding and the ability to listen non-judgementally
- excellent oral and written communication skills and presentation skills
- objectivity and tact
- the ability to motivate and inspire clients
- the ability to facilitate communication in groups of eight to 20 people
- good organizational and planning skills
- the ability to work effectively with other professionals and community agencies.
They should enjoy consulting with people, compiling information and working with clients to develop innovative solutions to problems.
Most career development professionals have post-secondary education in a related discipline such as psychology, education, social work or human resources development. Increasingly, employers are looking for applicants who have a certificate, diploma or degree in career development, or an equivalent combination of education and experience.
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