Career Counsellor: Career profile

In the ever-changing world of work the careers counsellor is a lighthouse. Whether it's the undergraduate's change of course, a sudden gust of mid-life vocational calling or even navigating around the rocks of redundancy, the career development professional acts as a beacon.

It's a rewarding and hugely responsible job. But hang on: how did the career counsellor get there?

Meet a Careers Counsellor

Careers Counsellor

Rosemary Eckholm,70, is a Careers Counsellor and partner in the career counselling agency Jobshift. She's thinking of retiring to finish writing her book on the workplace revolution … but she said that last year. She raises her spiritual barre with a ballet subscription and holds dear her garden, family and great friends.

Describe your job in a sentence?

Encouraging people to take control of their career and facilitate their capacity to be clear about what they want to do.

What education & training do you have?

  • Graduate Diploma in Organisation Behaviour & Development
  • Certificate in Family Therapy
  • Advanced Certificate in Psychotherapy & Counselling
  • Diploma in Social Welfare Studies
  • General Nursing training

How has this training helped you on the path as a Careers Counsellor?

Absolutely everything relates to career counselling in terms of experience and knowledge; that's the beauty of it.

My own path has been all about people and what makes them tick, so although I have had a few changes, there is that common thread.

Formal training and qualifications have given me a very strong framework in which to operate.

What skills do you most need as a Careers Counsellor?

Having absolute respect for people, for who they are and their individual circumstances is fundamental.

It's a job which requires a very sound knowledge of the changing nature of work. You need to be able to understand what is driving change and its impact – the big-picture stuff like technology and globalisation.

You need to be able to focus on the needs of both people and organisations and sometimes these clash, so one of the strongest skills you need is diplomacy and the ability to facilitate rather than tell. And because you are sometimes in an insidious position you have to have a lot of personal and professional integrity.

This is one field where having had some life experience and varied jobs is a distinct advantage

Rosemary

What's changed most since you began working?

The workplace itself. It is never static and it's continually demanding new things of us. It requires us to have a lot of internal resilience and to be the drivers of our own careers, rather than expecting organisations to do that for us as they did in the past.

When I talk about driving your own career, it's driving your own training and development as well.

People need to ensure they keep up to date with things, to continually learn, develop and grow. This might not necessarily be a diploma or degree, but a short course that focuses intensely on one particular area.

What are some of the challenges of the Careers Counsellor's job?

People coming in and wanting you to do it all for them. There's no magic wand. It's a matter of helping people to help themselves, something that doesn't necessarily come naturally to any of us.

Best thing about the job?

Seeing people take control of their own careers and making choices that work better for them and those they work and live with.

What advice would you give an aspiring Careers Counsellor?

Know yourself and do some major work on yourself first. This is one field where having had some life experience and varied jobs is a distinct advantage.

Do some sort of introductory counselling course to give you some idea of how to work with people. Go and talk to as many people in the field as you can. A good idea for somebody thinking of entering this field is to actually go through a career development course with a career counsellor.

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