A career counselor is an educated, trained professional who coaches clients in researching, selecting, planning, entering, developing and changing careers. A career counselor is also known as a placement counselor as he or she helps clients get placed into a suitable career or at least placed onto a compatible career path. Different clients have different needs, so the career counselor's duties will be different with each client.
A career counselor's client may be a young person just beginning a career or an older adult wanting to make a career change. In order to begin coaching clients, a career counselor needs to understand the client's history and what motivates that person. The client's personality, interests, skills, values and purpose in life offer a good start in narrowing down career possibilities.
Familiarity with personality and aptitude tests is a must for a career counselor. These tests can help reveal the client's personality traits, skill sets and values both as important self-knowledge for the client and as vital information for the career counselor to use in guiding the client to a suitable career choice. Objectivity in assessing test results is essential and career counselors often must have a professional counseling degree and/or license. A master's degree may also be required.
Good listening skills are crucial in career counseling. The career counselor must also take the information learned about the client and analyze it in terms of the current job market. Career coaches, or counselors, can help the client understand what careers are in demand and are likely to continue to be in demand in the near future. Once the career options are figured out and discussed in terms of educational and other requirements, the career counselor coaches the client into exploring those options.
The client is often asked by the coach to conduct informational interviews by finding companies in one of his or her career options and asking specific questions. The answers to the questions can help to inform the career seeker about what he or she could expect in a chosen career. The gathered information helps the client narrow down his or her choices until the most suitable career choice remains. Once the career selection is established, the career counselor can guide the client through the job application process. The career counselor can show the client how to prepare a resume and cover letter that can help land the client an interview and/or job in the client's newly chosen career field.