It might not be a job you’ve ever given any thought to. Your experience of careers advice may have been a short interview in a drab school office with the only choices on offer being administration or construction. But careers advice has moved on a lot and you may be surprised to hear that it’s a varied, interesting and developing role.
But is it for you? Here’s a short guide to the central skills, interests and attributes you’ll need to succeed in this field.
Everyone has a story that deserves to be told…..
When a person begins talking about their career, they tend to start with their most recent job, or training, or qualification. This really is the tip of the iceberg. There are so many experiences and factors that can shape and change a person’s direction. Listening to how someone arrived at their careers choices can mean discussing emotions, family and friends, aspirations, politics, class, equality, gender, mental health, finance and social mobility. And more! You don’t have to be an expert in these areas, but you do need to want to hear all about your client, not just their presenting situation. Natural curiosity is a must.
Communication is key
And by that I don’t mean talking! Your role is to enable the client to open up, see their situation from a new perspective and evaluate possible ways forward. The onus is on the client creating their own strategies for change, with your support. Questions are important; few people will offer up everything without prompting. The true skill however lies in being able to truly listen to what a person is saying. Putting aside all distractions, being present in a completely non-judgemental way. This creates a ‘safe space’ for you and your client to build mutual rapport, for your client to feel heard, for trust to be created. And for change to take place!
You’re no expert
There are countless careers and qualifications out there. An overwhelming amount which is one of many reasons that careers support is so essential. However, the role of an adviser is not to pinpoint specific careers for individuals. It would be impossible to know everything about every career, and everything about the client you’re working with. The only person who can really know what is best for a person is the person themselves. So your job, rather than being an encyclopaedia of careers, is to support the individual in deciding what information they need, and how they will seek it. Of course it’s sensible and necessary to have a good understanding of the labour market, varying job roles, career paths and skills needed. But if a client is empowered in their search and you’re able to suggest reliable information sources, then that is often enough.
Does that sound like you? A facilitator, enabler, listener, supporter? Then maybe it’s time to visit your university careers office or local careers service.