Spending a lot of time and a lot of money working with a career counselor is not necessarily the first action you should take when planning your career change. Career counselors are trained to assess aptitudes and skills, and then match them against a variety of jobs and vocations to determine the best use of your talents. These jobs are listed in the Standard Occupational Classification system.
The limitations to this approach are twofold. One drawback is that a professional career counselor’s training generally discounts the client’s own dreams and desires as a valid piece of the picture. As a group, they do not understand that the power of desire can override poor results on aptitude tests and skills assessments. To be fair, encouraging a career path that is not supported by test results would be considered a professional disservice. The other shortcoming is the career counselor’s limited knowledge of all the careers “out there on the street.” There are a number of careers that fall into such a tiny niche of the Standard Occupational Classifications, that they fly under the radar of a counselor’s general knowledge of the job market. And in today’s vigorous climate of innovation and change, particularly in the arena of digital communications, many careers are simply so new, they are invisible.
Here’s a story to illustrate. Max and I grew up together in a one horse town in the Midwest. In our school, career counseling started in our junior year. All of us were scheduled throughout the year to meet with the school counselor who did her best to guide us toward a productive career path. Frankly speaking, I was one of the bright ones in school; my gifts, so to speak, were reading and writing. No surprise I was encouraged toward college and a teaching degree. My buddy Max was very average in his school work, and less than gifted in his writing. His gifts as a storyteller that entertained one and all were completely overlooked.
Max was the surprise of your high school reunion. He parlayed his storytelling into a six figure annual income writing copy for “junk mail” advertising. He is paid a staggering amount of money for writing a four page advertising letter and he receives royalty on every sale made as a result of his copy. (Before you drop that junk mail in the trash, stop and read the copy first.) As for me, my career path took me into Information Technology, as a business systems analyst: an industry that nobody had ever heard of when I was in high school.
By all means, make use of a career counselor’s expertise in providing career guidance, but never allow yourself to be dissuaded from going after your own career desires. Hold on to your dream and explore other avenues; you never know what can open up for you.