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Career Counseling? A Must in Today's Competitive Envirnoment - By Cindy Eldridge

Just graduated college and you’re unemployed?  Yen (2012) reveals a bleak reality for college graduates reporting: “…the job prospects for bachelor's degree holders fell last year to the lowest level in more than a decade” (para. 7).  Describing the dismal underemployment rate for college grads, Yen reports many are waiting tables, bartending, and performing clerical work; all of which fall short of their capabilities and desires.  Depending upon the undergraduate degree, job prospects vary significantly.  Choosing a career, where to live, settling into a lifestyle, estimating rates of pay and figuring out how to achieve it all, warrants substantial thought.  Yen (2012) suggests people need to be scoping out the projected growth areas of occupations, scanning rates of pay and informing themselves about the demand of jobs, in order to reach their goals with today's job market trends.  “About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor's degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years” (Yen, 2012, para. 17).  Sharing the plight of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree in biology, Yen discovered the graduate now works as a construction worker.  His lack of experience, and non-specialized degree has left him underemployed and at times, unemployable.  Yen (2012) surmises those with highly specialized degrees and training, and people holding a high school education are the ones most likely to gain employment while people in the middle are left floundering.  Yen emphasizes that now, more than ever, career decisions have multiple, long-lasting implications for the remainder of life.

Whether you are Generation Y (Echo Boomers) or a Baby Boomer, people from all stages in life appear to have three commonalities: 1) achieve balance between work and personal life, 2) obtain a high level of life satisfaction, and 3) pay the bills.  Katharine Brooks (2012) encourages job seekers to think about the career fields they are considering and evaluate how job experience and education fit into those fields.  Career counselors can help and if you think that seeing a career counselor is simply matching a person to a job, think again!

These specialized counselors are trained to treat the whole person, (a holistic approach) taking into consideration much more than a desired occupation.  Zunker (2005) states: “Career counseling touches all aspects of human life… In the career counseling process all aspects of individual needs (including family, work, personal concerns, and leisure) are recognized as integral parts of career decision making and planning” (p. 3).  Gone are the days of career counselors simply showing you how to write a resume’ and cover letter or how to conduct a successful interview.  While these services are provided, the process of planning a balanced life entails more.  Career counselors are equipped with an array of assessments, counseling techniques, and useful job information specific to geographical areas, but the process cannot be simplified to a person completing an assessment and finding a job.  Today’s career counselors are keenly aware that:  “Choosing and entering an occupation essentially involves a process of clarifying and implementing a work self-concept (Super, 1951, 1953)” (Taber, Hartung, Briddick, Briddick, & Rehfuss, 2011, p. 274).  To assist people, factors such as values, interests, family, self-efficacy, goals, personality, skills, aptitude, motivation, and desired lifestyle can be examined to successfully guide people into balance, reaching salary goals and high life satisfaction.  Rath & Harter, (n.d.) report: “We spend the majority of our waking hours during the week doing something we consider a career, occupation, vocation, or job” (p. 1).  People seek out help for physical problems so why not enlist the expertise of a career counselor to guide you through a career decision or work transition?  According to Robison (n. d.) one of the five essential elements of wellbeing is career wellbeing, i.e., “how you occupy your time – or simply liking what you do every day” (p. 3).  “People with high Career Wellbeing are more than twice as likely to be thriving in their lives overall” (Rath & Harter, n.d.).

Any change, whether expected, imposed or unplanned can be frightening.  Many people, in the same occupation for over twenty years are finding themselves in a vastly different job search process.  Ryan & Tomlin (2010) report: “…the career organization service must use career information to assist individuals who fear change.  Clients need help to deal with career uncertainty and to master the complexity of change in a global world” (p. 84-85).  Brooks (2012) states: “Building your social media brand can help you clarify your thinking about your career.  Branding is about establishing your identity and distinguishing yourself from the competition” (para. 8).  Baby Boomers may not be cognizant of the importance of social media.

            The bottom line is this: The way we experience employment or unemployment impacts every area of life.  Now, more than ever, the need exists to recruit professionally trained counselors to assist with a new career choice and with work transitions.














Brooks, K. (2012). College students, social media, and the job search: Job seekers continue to

miss a key element in their search. Psychology Today: Career Transitions.  Retrieved



Brooks, K. (2012). Graduating? No job? Do this now: 5 Steps for improving your job search.

Retrieved from:


Rath, T., & Harter, J. (n.d.). Your Career Wellbeing and Your Identity. Gallup Business Journal.

Retrieved from


Robison, J. (n. d.). Wellbeing is Contagious (for Better or Worse). Gallup Business Journal.

Retrieved from:


Ryan, C. W., & Tomlin, J. H. (2010). Infusing systems thinking into career counseling. Journal

Of Employment Counseling, 47(2), 79-85.

Taber, B. J., Hartung, P. J., Briddick, H., Briddick, W. C., & Rehfuss, M. C. (2011). Career style

interview: A contextualized approach to career counseling. Career Development

Quarterly, 59(3), 274-287.

Yen, H. (2012, April, 22). In weak job market, one in two college graduates are jobless or

underemployed. The Huffington Post: Huff Post Money. Retrieved from:  

Zunker, V. G. (2005). Career counseling: A holistic approach. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

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Shawnda Kahl is the Administrative Assistant for the Department of Behavioral Science at MidAmerica Nazarene University


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Guest Friday, 01 August 2014

About This Blog

OhBehave is the outreach blog of the MNU Behavioral Sciences Department. In matters related to Psychology, Sociology, and Criminal Justice you will find information and updates geared to keep students and professionals abreast of the latest research, professional developments, and important trends in each field. As we seek a life of purpose, the material presented in this blog is meant to enhance and deepen our understanding of people and our world so that we may intentionally reflect the grace and peace of our creator.