Guidance Councilor for Adults?
February 17, 2011 1:36 PM   Subscribe

Are there guidance councilors for adults? I never learned how to find a job or advance within career paths.

I need a career councilor of some kind. I'm stuck between two paths: get a better job in the field I work in (or related field) or go back to school in order to switch careers. The problem is I never leaned how to navigate career paths.

I know how to put in an application with a local retailer, and I know how to search craigslist. What I don't understand is how Career A exits to Career B or Career C. I really don't even know how to ask this question properly.

Once you've left high school, who do you turn to for career information? Are there services to teach Advanced Job Searching?
posted by lekvar to Work & Money (11 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
You can talk to a career coach in your area, or search on-line for a career coach in the field you're interested in.
posted by ldthomps at 1:38 PM on February 17, 2011

In addition to career counselors, there are also people who bill themselves as life coaches who help folks make decisions like this.
posted by OmieWise at 1:39 PM on February 17, 2011

Response by poster: Any suggestions of how to find a good career coach? Are there professional organizations that can give a referral? Any personal recommendations in the CA Bay Area? I know that google is my friend, but the search results are so loaded with SEO hucksters that I don't think I could judge a legitimate resource from a bogus one.
posted by lekvar at 1:49 PM on February 17, 2011

Actually, I prefer mentors myself. The way this works is, you select someone considerably senior to you in your field, who you like and admire, and you make contact by asking if you can take that person to lunch/coffee to get their views on what career path you should take. You also are generally friendly and thankful to said chosen mentor and keep them informed of what you do with yourself so you maintain the relationship.

Similarly, go visit a school that is a possibility for you, talk to students there, and find a professor/teacher with a background you admire/respect to chat with as well.

People are very generous with their time when approached the right way, and with adequate appreciation, consideration and continued contact, can be invaluable lifetime mentors.
posted by bearwife at 1:53 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

sounds like you're looking for a Life Coach.
posted by zombieApoc at 1:54 PM on February 17, 2011

Best answer: This is a good California-specific list of resources and professional organizations. The excellent career counselor I went to is a member of the NCDA, which has a pretty rigorous code of ethics.

The way this works is, you select someone considerably senior to you in your field

Career counselors are incredibly helpful to people who don't know what "their field" is, or how people advance within it. It sounds like the OP needs to look into that stuff before beginning a search for mentors (whom, I agree, are invaluable resources).
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:57 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Actually, I prefer mentors myself.

Sadly, the only people I know in this industry I could look to for mentoring left for greener pastures a long time ago. My current industry, printing, is dying by inches. There are still people who make a living at it, but they are mostly owners, and almost none of them are local as far as I know.
posted by lekvar at 3:37 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My uncle used a life coach several years ago which cost him an arm and a leg and when I asked him if it was worth it, he said no. But that's just his experience.

Bay Area Career Center has good reviews and fees are listed.

If you don't have a lot of money to spend, maybe a book or two?
posted by KogeLiz at 4:42 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

One of the things my better half (an organisational psychologist) does is career counselling. Usually they're engaged by companies who are laying off staff in order to help those folk get back into the workforce. She doesn't talk that much about the mechanics of it, but it sounds like they do things like working out what people's strengths and interests are, working out what sorts of jobs they might enjoy and be suitable for, and polishing resumés and application letters. It sounds like the clients get a lot out of it.

The work my partner does is outsourced by a larger organisation that doesn't have a presence in this city, I believe, so it sounds like there are businesses who just do this sort of thing. The flip side of that is most of their clients might be organisations, as opposed to individuals, so it might actually be quite expensive. Unfortunately, I don't know any of those details.

Is your current employer large enough to have a HR department? If so, they might be able to recommend someone (of course you have to judge whether asking something like that is going to cause a problem for your current job). I imagine that the American Psychological Association has an organisational psychology branch, so that might be a professional organisation to check out regarding referrals.

I don't have any personal experience with "life coaches", but it really sounds pretty scammy to me. Especially given the sorts of advertisements I've seen offering to train people to be a life coach.

Someone who is a trained counsellor (not necessarily just a career counsellor) could probably help too – they should be able to give you some objective guidance on how to work through the options available to you and work out what would work best for you. This wont necessarily help so much in the process of applying for a new career, but may help you work out what you want out of a new career.
posted by damonism at 4:59 PM on February 17, 2011

I was able to go to a career development seminar sponsored by my employer. It was pretty awesome. A few nuggest of wisdom I gleaned from it:
  • Figure out what you're good/not-good at and like/don't-like to do (perhaps by placing these things on a grid so you know what you want to work on getting better at as well as what you wish to avoid in a job)
  • Figure out what interests of yours can/can't be satisfied by your job. (Also, read this MeFi post.)
  • Set finite, obtainable goals for yourself with reasonable timeframes. You're not going to be able to do it all at once; but, as long as you can see the path you're heading down, life becomes a whole lot better.
There are tools out there for helping you better define this things for yourself. Pehaps you can find some on your own. Otherwise, a career counselor should be able to help you find these kinds of tools and perhaps help ask you questions. Although, if you can find a class, you can sometimes learn a good bit from the other people there. (I guess like "group therapy"?)

Anyway, good luck!
posted by StarmanDXE at 1:19 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Many states will have a state-funded program to help people transition into new careers. This may include career counseling and training. My best friend does this under the title of vocational rehabilitation. You may need to qualify for these services, my friends clientele often have had an injury that prevents them from working in their current career, but even contacting them could lead to some great resources. I would look at your state website under department of labor/ workforce development.
posted by Foam Pants at 10:14 PM on February 18, 2011

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