Graduation is right around the corner for seniors in high school and college. It’s an exciting time, and a little frightening since if you’re like most students or people in their late teens and early twenties, you might not be sure of what you want to do professionally. If you are also feeling uncertain about what you want to do in your personal life, that’s also to be expected, so take heart in the fact that you aren’t alone.  While a lot of this uncertainty will decrease with time, a career counselor can provide you with some support and information that can help shorten the amount of time you spend wondering about what to do and how to break into your chosen field. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about career counseling:

·      I’ve taken a bunch of tests on Buzzfeed, Queendom, etc. and they tell me to do different things. I’ve also taken that Myers thing online. It’s not helping. How will the tests you give me be any different?

Quizzes are fun, especially the ones that claim to predict what we will be when we grow up. However, most of the quizzes and tests you find online either are not validated based on scientific data or you have to pay to view a report that is actually helpful, or some combination of the two.

Sign Up for E-News

Professional Career Counselors are trained in the use and development of assessments, so we only use assessments that have been proven to measure what they are supposed to measure with most of the population, most of the time.  So the tests I use in my practice are much more accurate than the ones you find online. Also, more importantly, a test can only tell you so much.  The most important part of the assessment process is sitting down with a counselor and going over your results. Most of the time, the score report is right on, but every once in a while, due to cultural differences or just the mood the client was in at the time of testing, the results may be off, and there is no way to know if you don’t go over the report with a trained professional.

·      So once we go over the test results, I’ll know what to do?

This is a lot like saying that once you know you would like to visit Disney World over the summer, you will wake up one day and just be there with a full itinerary. Assessments usually do go a long way to helping people identify occupations that are worth researching further, but they don’t tell you if the occupation will meet all of your needs in terms of earning power, training requirements, and location restrictions. Assessments also can’t tell you everything you need to know about how to get your foot in the door for a certain profession. A career counselor can help walk you through the steps of how to research career options and guide you through your own decision making process so you can make the best decision possible based on the information you have.

·      Do career counselors write resumes?

Most career counselors also offer resume services. I assist my clients with resume critiques and coaching. If someone wants me to write a resume for them, I can, but that is a relatively expensive service. In general, since your resume is a document that will need to be updated frequently, it is your interest to take advantage of the opportunity to learn how to make updates. Of course, some new professionals don’t have the time to deal with resume writing, so in those cases, it may be worth it to just hand that task off to me.

·      Does insurance pay for career counseling?

Insurance does not pay for career counseling.  Most career counselors bill clients an hourly fee. Some “package” services and clients pay a certain amount to cover what the services they will need.  Many of my clients have become huge advocates for career counseling, and one of them advises her friends to view the cost like a class. Set aside an amount that is workable for you, and view it as an investment in yourself. Career counseling is short-term work. Typically, clients meet with me 3-10 times, and most of that is dictated by their preference. Also, unlike therapy, it doesn’t need to be weekly or bi-weekly. Most of the time, services are scheduled on an as-needed basis.

I hope this information is helpful. If you still have questions about career counseling, please call (908) 913-0581 or email me at amy@amyarmstronglpc.com. I also encourage you to visit the National Career Development Association webpage.