Job Search Tip
Career Counseling Centers
There are two types of career counseling centers: college counseling offices and post-graduate work centers. If you’ve gone to college you’re familiar at least with the first kind of career counseling office, but I’d be willing to be that you didn’t especially think your college career office was that helpful. Career counseling centers geared toward working (or previously working) adults are a different breed of cat and can run the gamut from very helpful to a waste of time.
Mostly what career counseling centers advertise is that they will help you through the process of choosing what it is that you want to do with your life. If that’s what you need, then maybe that’s an option for you. But I’ve seen those same centers also advertise resume-writing help, interview help, and job search help. They are often heavily recommended to folks who have been laid off, downsized, or otherwise displaced from their jobs. This is not the same as career coaching.
Aside from the career-choice advising, I have not heard great stories about career counseling centers and their ability to help you find a job. In other words, I think career counseling centers might be able to help you choose a job, but not able to help you actually get the job you’ve chosen.
Mostly my impression is that their advice is outdated (like resume blasts), their advisors are unqualified, and their work isn’t very specific or cutting-edge. I hate it that people who get laid off rely on this kind of a service to help them because it’s free and they think it’s going to be valuable. And then what happens is that it doesn’t work and they’ve lost all that time.
And if your career center offers classes to help you brush up on your skills, that doesn’t mean it’s worthwhile. Don’t spend your time in a class that isn’t teaching you anything if you know that there are more productive ways you can teach yourself things. The internet is actually a very good, incredibly under-rated way to educate yourself on an incredibly wide variety of topics (including the job search itself). I’ve seen Ivy-league university class lectures on some fascinating topics. I’ve seen “how-to” videos on YouTube. There are papers and articles and blogs and videos of all kinds, and it’s all free.
I’m sure there are some outstanding career counseling services somewhere. But if you use one of these services, please be judgmental about what you’re getting. Do your own research about what you need in a resume to represent you strongly in a job search. Be logical about who it is that you should be talking to about getting hired. It’s the decision maker, the hiring manager, that you should be spending time contacting…they’re the ones who can say “yes, you’re hired,” so it makes sense that you should be aggressive and go talk to them, right?