I've read your book and several of your blog pieces about what career advisors can do for clients, and why the investment is worth it. I've never worked with an advisor before, am tight on funds, and wondering about one other aspect - what CAN'T an advisor do? I'm hoping for some definitive solutions to some pretty complicated career issues.
Interested In Return on Investment
The simple, somewhat glib answer to your question about what an advisor can't do is "magic." I don't usually say that to my clients or students, but it's what I'm thinking in certain situations.
Sometimes I think client expectations are unrealistic -- they expect me to provide a magical solution to a very complicated situation, perhaps like yours, without much context or much understanding of what their interests, skills, and experiences have been. What I frequently want to say is "Hey, it's your LIFE we're talking about here; how can we possibly solve it in one meeting?"
I recently had a private client who’d had significant personal achievement in teaching, but had gone through a rough time over the past few years. He’d had one bad job, and was currently having a difficult time in his search. His search technique was not good, and he was what I call a "burn victim" -- someone whose perceptions have been thrown off kilter due to a bad work experience. It was tough for him to see that the bad experience was a cause of some of his anxiety and current lack of success.
He wanted me to come up with alternative solutions, perhaps another career entirely. At this point, he didn’t have any ideas of his own about alternate careers (perhaps as a function of his overall anxiety and listless search). I suggested he get himself on more solid ground by landing a teaching job, and then use that as a foundation to make career decisions while not consumed by uncertainty. I thought he'd be able to be much more creative when he was feeling better about himself, and employed.
We discussed search techniques for the better part of two meetings. He seemed to understand that answering ads was simply not going to do the trick alone -- he was going to have to be far more proactive in his overall approach, as well as in following up with current "live" situations. He left the second meeting feeling confident he could go out and execute our plan.
Two weeks later, I received an email from him expressing his disappointment with what we had accomplished. He then described a couple of ideas he had that were related to education, ideas I thought were worth exploring. He had not mentioned these in our meetings.
And then he informed me he was going on vacation for the rest of the summer (the remainder of education hiring season). The feeling I got from his email was that I had been expected to produce some immediate, concrete, easy solutions so that he could go on vacation. He said he "might" contact me when he returned.
This is a roundabout way of explaining that a career advisor can't just meet someone, and immediately come up with solutions. The advisor will have tools, assessments, exercises, and will try to get as much information as possible, so that the client will be able to put these factors together, with the advisor's perspectives, and come up with two or three possible solutions to explore. That's called intelligent career planning. While I'm usually not in favor of long-term career advising relationships, some situations might take more than a few meetings to solve, and success will be based on input from both sides.
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