Answering your questions about Career Counselling

Career counsellors bring a wealth of diverse expertise and experience to the field. Selecting a career counsellor to work with is a very personal choice and it should be the right fit for you and the areas of your career life you want to explore and/or work on.

I wanted to respond to some of your questions and provide a few comments on the approach and perspective that I bring to career counselling.

I selected the top 7 questions I am frequently asked.

“I feel completely stuck, but I don’t know if Career Counselling is right for me”?

The reasons behind that “stuck” feeling vary but they are usually related to the relationship a client has with work and career: something has changed, shifted, or is currently challenging.

Feeling “stuck” could reveal waning interest in or motivation for their work. They may feel they have outgrown a particular role or occupation. It could be burnout and a strong desire for change. It could be difficulty with a job and not feeling confident. It could be feeling overwhelmed with decisions over career choice.

It is quite common to ask if career counselling is the best option to sort through these kinds of questions and feelings.

Career counselling provides a conversational and supportive space for clients to reflect on their relationship with work and career. It can help a client clarify the issues that are leading them to feel “stuck”. Career counselling helps clients gather information, gain perspective, see possibilities, and if appropriate, design strategies for moving forward.

“How long does Career Counselling typically take”?

This is entirely dependent on the client and what they want to explore and/or accomplish. I believe Career Counselling should be flexible, creative, client-centered, and strategic when appropriate.

I usually recommend two sessions to start. This time frame allows for reflection, clarifying issues, and identifying and designing possible steps or strategies moving forward.

In my experience, clients may want an additional 2 or 3 sessions to work on a specific strategy – labor market research, development of profiles, preparation for information meetings, and/or interviews, career maintenance, or an exit strategy, for example. However, the initial 2 sessions can provide valuable insights and a good foundation for the client to move forward on their own.

I also offer single sessions for an exploratory conversation on more immediate questions. Some examples include: “Should I consider a career change”? “I am having difficulty with a work-related decision I have to make”. “I have an upcoming job interview, I feel ill-prepared and very nervous, can you help”? “I think I am experiencing burnout; can I share what I am experiencing”?

And I also offer monthly check-ins or maintenance for clients who want the time and space to discuss and reflect on such topics as motivation, wellness, stress, aspirations, and professional development.

There are many different options to suit the client.

“What is your process”?

I offer a conversational, reflective (perspective-taking), and strategic process to my clients. I bring existential, experiential, and narrative theoretical frameworks to my work in career counselling. While these frameworks contextualize my approach to career development, career change, and work-related burnout, I also customize the process to the client.

I work with my clients and by this, I mean I work with a client’s lived experience and specific context(s). I work with their unique skills, diverse expertise, and their motivation. I listen to their expectations of work, their dreams, their aspirations, and what is meaningful to them. These are examples, but this is the personal content that shapes a customized process.

In my experience, clients seek career counselling expertise to glean insights, perspective, support, validation, possibilities, and strategies that are personally relevant to building out their career lives.

“What is the best format for resumes and profiles”? and “Should I focus on my resume”?

There are hundreds of resume and profile templates out there and I would be quite reluctant to say there is one “best” format.

It’s a balancing act.

You want, for example:

  • Your resume and/or profiles to stand out.
  • You want the documents to be relevant to your targeted professional area or the specific role you are applying for.
  • You want the documents to highlight your value; you want to be able to recognize yourself in the content of these documents, and you want that content to be consistent.
  • You want the presentation of these documents to be well-spaced, grammatically accurate, and easy to read.
  • You want these documents to capture the reader’s attention and not be loaded down with jargon.

Every resume, profile, and preparation for information meetings, networking, and/or interviews starts with good content. And this is often the area where I focus first.

Re-assessing a client’s skills (both natural and learned) and experiences is key to identifying their current expertise and the unique story or narrative of their career journey.

Some questions to reflect on might include:

  • What kind of expertise and value do you currently hold?
  • Can you articulate and describe how you work?
  • Can you make a connection between your value and the needs of prospective role you are interested in?
  • What do you want to contribute to that prospective role or profession?
  • What do you want to develop further in your career life?

“What is the best career for me”?

I am asked this question frequently by young adults. This question always has some context. The person asking is often overwhelmed and feels that they must make that one “right” career decision.

I understand these feelings so let me re-frame this question because it is simply too big and too daunting to answer – and it often leads to decision paralysis.

Consider instead the following sample questions:

  • How do I want to start building my career path?
  • What are some good options that I am interested in, and can commit to, at this stage in my life: working, further education, a training program, volunteer work, or an internship?
  • What issues in the world, or within my community, am I drawn to and why?
  • What would I like to learn more about, or gain more experience in, at this stage in my life?

Many young adults will likely have more than one career in a lifetime. This is a reality. Exploration, engaging in a variety of experiences, discovering new skills, life-long learning, and building a flexible and portable skill set are key to building out a career life that is designed for, and resilient to, more than one career. This also helps young adults develop a meaningful relationship with work and career.

“I think it might be time for a career change, where do I start”?

Many clients I have worked with feel that something about their work environment, their role, or their engagement with their current profession has noticeably changed but they haven’t had the opportunity to explore whether the “shifts” they are experiencing mean career change is the answer.

For those who have experienced job loss, the answer is clearer. For others, this may be a situation where one or two sessions are needed to clarify the client’s experiences, gauge the client’s motivation for change, and contemplate possible next steps.

Career changes do include some very practical steps. Some examples:

  • Re-assessing skills, expertise, and the client’s current value.
  • Having a reflective conversation about a client’s work experiences. How they have been working? What is their relationship with work and career? How has this changed? How do they want to work going forward? What are their expectations of work and career? Which skills and/or aspects of their expertise do they want to carry forward? What interests them at this stage in their life? Are there concurrent issues in the client’s life that will influence the direction and pace of a career change? Are there financial or familial considerations?
  • Conducting labor market research, and depending on the client, organizing information meetings might be an important strategy.
  • Re-designing resumes and social media profiles.
  • Preparing for job interviews.

Any combination of these steps might be suitable for a client. But once again, any change starts with clarifying the client’s current context, motivation, expectations, and aspirations since these invariably influence the creation and execution of a strategy.

“I am over 60, am I too old for a new career”?

Increasingly many people are not “retiring” after age 60. There are financial considerations along with a desire for new careers and new opportunities to engage and contribute past 60.

Are you too old? No.

Consider the following questions:

  • What draws you to continue working or to engage in something new?
  • What talents, skills, and expertise do you want to contribute and/or express at this stage?
  • What personal knowledge, perspectives, and experiences could you draw upon to create new career opportunities?
  • What does work mean to you at this stage in your life?
  • How do you want to work at this stage?

Is ageism a reality? In some sectors, it does persist, but it isn’t a standard across all possible avenues for work. The world is changing, and aging populations are increasingly working well past 60.

This is where reflective work helps to clarify the client’s position and to gather information. Research and information meetings can help identify further possibilities for crafting the next steps. And those next steps will follow a similar career change framework.

Interested in learning more about the services available at Canvas Career Counselling? Contact to book a complimentary consultation.