What Career Counselors Can’t Do For You

Posted: September 14, 2011 in career

With all due respect to my chosen profession, there are some things that are clearly beyond the capability of even the most practiced of Career Counselors. Here are a few that come to mind:


A career counselor cannot tell you what you should be when you grow up, or even what you should do next.

This is a moving target, open to all kinds of changes at all ages and life stages. There is just no way that anyone has the ability and the knowledge to guarantee what the “best job” is for someone else. What they should be able to do is help you understand more about where your passions lie, what your best skills are, how you find satisfaction and provide guidance and support in seeking the best possible matches in your work and life.


A career counselor cannot give you the ideal career path to follow from entry level to retirement.

Career paths are almost never straight. I once read that they are only linear in the rearview mirror! The fact is that the job market is so volatile and we humans are so malleable that one, specific “ideal career path” for almost all of us is probably a pipe dream.  By the way, this is good news, not bad!  This means that there could be any number of ways to arrive at Employment Nirvana, not just one!

A career counselor does not have a one-size fits all process that will work effectively for everyone.

Unfortunately, some do have a very programmed, this-is-always-the-way-to-do-it approach where they follow the same process each time, just add the person. Once again, people are entirely too complex and complicated to all respond in the same manner. This is not to say, however, that career assessment and career planning systems are all bad. There are some excellent products and processes out there that can be very helpful in directing vocational development at almost any age. But none of them are fail-safe!  You have to make allowances for the human element (after all, we all are human, right?).


A career counselor will not always have the answers.

I know this is true for me! They should be asking you the right questions, though! And, to clarify, the professional career counselor will be able to provide information, guidance, focus, skill-building and accountability, as well as assisting in reviewing and revising the process along the way, sharing insights and alternatives throughout. As hackneyed as it may sound, Career Development is not a Destination; it’s a Journey.


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