Career counseling isn’t just for young folks attending colleges and universities. In fact, adults facing a job hunt or contemplating a career shift may be in even greater need of individualized coaching and advice.
Dan King, a Boston-based career consultant (and member of the New Workplace Institute advisory committee), provides such assistance. His firm, Career Planning and Management, Inc., has been serving individuals and organizations since 1987.
Dan kindly agreed to be interviewed for our “3 Questions” feature, and here’s what he had to share with us:
1. Dan, how did you get into the field of career counseling?
David, I’d love to tell you that I was one of those people who always knew what he wanted to be when he grew up. But I wasn’t. I graduated college with a liberal arts degree and a few vague notions about career success. Like most 21 year-old newly-minted grads, I was eager to earn some real money, acquire possessions, and of course, still have ample time for an active social life.
By age 32, after several unfulfilling jobs, I was disheartened and discouraged by the path my career had taken. I had allowed my career to just “happen by accident” and knew I needed to be more strategic about my future. I started reading everything I could about careers and vocation, which ultimately led to the decision to pursue a graduate degree in Counseling Psychology, concentrating in Career Development. I wanted to help others avoid the same pitfalls of poor career planning that I had made – and that’s what I’ve been doing for over 25 years now.
2. What are the backgrounds of your typical clients, and what services can you offer them?
My clients are primarily “mid-career professionals,” with some experience behind them and full careers ahead of them. They range in age from mid-30’s to late-50’s and come from many backgrounds, including business, education, healthcare, law, non-profits and more.
Frequently they’re looking to improve their worklives, to pursue meaningful work that more closely aligns with their interests, skills and values. Other times, they need help organizing an effective job search plan, including the more tactical details of resume development, interview coaching, networking skills and salary negotiation. And sometimes they just need to speak with an objective outsider who can serve as a sounding board and trusted advisor. Many of my client engagements have evolved into on-going relationships that have lasted throughout the development cycle of their careers.
3. Many readers discover this blog because they’ve dealt with bullying and harassment on the job. They may be unemployed, and their self-confidence has taken a hit. What can an independent career counselor do for them?
I’m glad you asked this question. A good career counselor will wear many hats – as coach, mentor, devil’s advocate, teacher, cheerleader, crying towel, therapist and sometimes drill sergeant.
When I’m seeing a client, I understand that they may not be at their full-functioning best. They’re burdened by the stress of transition – and symptoms can show up as fear, anger, shame, or a sense of worthlessness. It’s not uncommon for a client to exhibit behavior typical of an abusive relationship with an authority figure. And anyone who has experienced unexpected job loss knows firsthand the rollercoaster of emotions that follow.
By providing a safe non-judgmental climate built on trust and understanding, an effective career counselor can help their clients give voice to their feelings, rebuild their self-esteem, and project the confidence necessary to achieve a meaningful and satisfying worklife.
Starting in 2012, “3 Questions” is a regular feature presenting short interviews with notable individuals whose work and activities overlap with major themes of this blog. Go here to access all interviews in the series.