Academic journal article Journal of Employment Counseling

Web-Assisted Career Counseling

Academic journal article Journal of Employment Counseling

Web-Assisted Career Counseling

Article excerpt

For the past 20 years counselors have used computer-based career information systems to assist clients with career planning and job hunting. Much of the same this information is now available on the Internet and can be accessed without the aid of a counselor. Such developments are likely to have a major impact on employment counseling practices. This article outlines selected Web-assisted counseling issues that are likely to affect counselors over the next few years and summarizes the career services currently available on the World Wide Web.

Over the past 20 years, the use of computer-assisted career guidance and information systems has dramatically increased (Harris-Bowlsbey, 1995). There has also been a major growth in the adult learner's interest in returning to education, exploring career changes, and pursuing new options. These adults need current career information and assistance, but from where? One source is computer-based career counseling programs and career services offered on the Internet (Chapman & DiBianco, 1996; Davies & Turcotte, 1997; Mariani, 1996; Murphy, 1998).

Beginning as a computer network for the military, the Internet has evolved into a worldwide network of at least 13 million interconnected computers and has grown from 130 Web sites in 1993 to millions today. By the year 2000, over 100 million homes will have access to the World Wide Web. This growth is a result of families and friends using the Internet to communicate inexpensively and to access news and information. For many, the Internet has become the vehicle of choice for communicating, banking, shopping, and accessing various career services. On-line career services and resources are available in the areas of career planning, career advice and information, job hunting, recruiting, salary negotiations, relocating, and entrepreneurship. Special services are available for women, persons with disabilities, and minority groups. Many of the services are free.

Although some counselors fear that the availability of many new high quality on-line career services may decrease the need for employment counselors. I believe that the opposite is likely to occur. Personal counseling has remained and is likely to remain an important element in helping the client to obtain maximum benefit from the use of computer systems. Therefore, this article outlines a few issues employment counselors are likely to face over the next few years and summarizes the career services currently available on the Web.


As counselors become more aware of the extensive career services and information currently available on the Web, they may begin to imagine the many ways they and their clients might use such information. On the other hand, they may be overwhelmed by the volume of information, the time it takes to find it, and the effort to find a means to incorporate selected on-line services into their current counseling practice. What follows is a short list of questions that may come to mind as counselors reflect on the matter of Web-assisted counseling.

Are Clients Still Going to Need Me?

Technologically savvy clients with a strong sense of career goals and direction may be able to use the Internet independently for career planning and job hunting tasks. However, individuals with limited technology skills, who lack career identity and direction, and who have a high need for approval are likely to be dissatisfied with job hunting approaches that incorporate little face-to-face contact with a counselor. Furthermore, finding and effectively using appropriate career services on the Web is challenging and time-consuming for the typical job hunter (Gati, 1994). Hence, the need for technologically literate counselors who can integrate computer-assisted career systems into their face-to-face counseling practice is likely to grow. As more and more individuals go on line, technology may even allow counselors to reach more clients than was previously possible. …

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