When working with individuals needing career direction, I use a three-part approach. Basically, I view the search for one’s life/work direction as a search for information. This information search takes one of the following three forms:
Gathering Information About One’s Self
Organizing information about skills, talents, interests and preferences is critical to one’s career success. In this stage, participants complete a series of information gathering exercises to help create a model of their ideal environment. The completed information will allow one to answer the questions who, what, when ,where, how and why as they apply to work. In this process we will also ask the question: “What do I want to do with my life overall, and how does work compliment my larger life goals?” Participants complete the information between the sessions and the information is reviewed and discussed during the session.
Gathering Information About Potential Work Environments
At the end of the second stage, we have a paper model of potential work environments. In this stage, we test out the model. This is done in two ways. Participants are given the names of some general sources of career exploration (Dictionary of Occupational Titles, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Encyclopedia of Associations, etc.) and taught how to use those resources. They are also taught how to talk to people working in their potential areas of interest. The purpose of gathering the information is to determine how close the fantasy of an environment matches the reality of working in that environment. The goal is to identify an environment in which the individual could make a contribution and feel successful.
Marketing One’s Skills
Once an area of interest has been identified, the participant is taught the various approaches to use in finding a job. Traditional and non-traditional methods are explained along with the success rate of each approach. As needed, written correspondence (proposals, resumes, cover letters, etc.) are developed and their effectiveness explained. In this step, interviewing and negotiating are explained. Where appropriate, role-playing is used. The individual is then monitored as they pursue employment.
On average, clients need between ten and fifteen hours with me spread over three to four months.