Career Counseling for Today's Labor Force

Article excerpt

In the current fragile economy, jobs have been scarce for many with little relief in sight. Anxiety and depression have been symptoms of people who are pressured to find sources of income in order to survive in this suffering financial market. Seeking help may seem impossible for the unemployed; however, the one job searching tool many people do not consider may be the very thing that pulls them out of this jobless hole: career counseling.

According to Vernon g. Zunker, author of Career Counseling: A Holistic Approach, career counseling includes

   ... all counseling activities associated with career choice
   over a life span. Career counseling also includes counsel
   ing activities associated with work maladjustment, stress
   reduction, mental health concerns, and developmental
   programs that enhance work skills, interpersonal relationships,
   adaptability, flexibility, and other developmental
   programs that lead to self-agency. (2006)

When all these values are considered within this therapeutic realm, the impact is intensely positive on society as a whole and especially the workforce.

Career counseling not only reaches people on a cognitive level where they can explore and process their emotions, but it also was created to address the main problem: to help people find employment. This type of counseling has been aiding people since the early 1900s and has continued to be successful in the twenty-first century.

Zunker goes on to explain that career counseling was "created to meet the needs of a society during the shift from rural to urban living in the industrial age and has expanded its focus during other transitional periods of changes in how and where we work and live" (2006). Thus, career counseling helps people find appropriate jobs that will benefit them. By discovering a successful job, the potential employee in return will prosper the employer as a result of the positive attitude displayed by the employee. Even though jobs are scarce at this time, career counseling still allows the counselor and/or therapist to research different types of employment for the client, coming as close as means allow to locating a job that best suits the client in this current, delicate job market.

It is no surprise that the economy has impacted the job market. But, just how has it affected it? The unemployment rate for Tennessee as of May 2010 was 10.4 percent, compared to the national rate of 9.7 percent (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010). What are currently unemployed or potentially future unemployed individuals doing to secure employment? One possible service being sought is career counseling offered through most career centers and community agencies, where these individuals focus on career exploration.

Career exploration is a lifelong process. It can be voluntary or involuntary; however, there are some life events that require us to reconsider our careers, much like today's economic situation. Career exploration might involve some uncertainty and/ or negative emotions (Zikic and Hall 2009). According to Holland's theory of occupational psychology, occupational interests are direct expressions of personality, and individuals seek environments that allow them to express their interests (1997).

Because of economic situations, for some individuals, career exploration through career counseling is implemented for finding any job rather than new career paths or options. For various reasons, many people do not have the luxury of choosing different career paths (Wilson 1996). For example, lack of specific experience, skills, or educational requirements can hinder one's capability in switching occupations. However, attending career counseling can aid their situations.

Career counseling is not required when attending Career Centers in Tennessee, but it is highly recommended for individuals seeking services. Often individuals see career counseling as a "problem-solving tool. …