Preparing Career Counselors to Aid Future Clients with Job Search
By Galaxina Wright
Present Day Job Search & Challenges
The pandemic and the increase of remote work changed the way many individuals viewed their jobs and re-evaluate how their careers fit into their overall lives (Geisler, 2021). In most recent workforce literature, individuals are prioritizing work life balance, mental health, and remote work as top priorities throughout their job searches more than ever before (Krugman, 2021). Though ideal job priorities have evolved, job search challenges appeared to have increased, particularly since the demand for remote work and its benefits (i.e., less transportation, greater work life balance, etc.) has increased (McFarland et al., 2020). Even merely two years following the global crisis, individuals experience difficulties in finding and obtaining meaningful work that matches their transferable skills from prior jobs. By itself, job searching is considered a non-intuitive, self-regulatory process that many individuals struggle with due to (a) limited knowledge surrounding its subjective and dynamic nature based on varying companies, (b) decreased confidence and motivation to engage in job search behavior, and (c) decreased hope towards obtaining employment and overcoming barriers as unemployment persists long term (Liu et al., 2014; Niles et al., 2010). In regards to networking, there appears to be a transition to an age where LinkedIn and Indeed platforms are increasingly utilized and job fairs are becoming less common.
The NCDA Code of Ethics (2015) asserts that career counselors carry an ethical obligation to expand their multicultural competence and ensure they are abreast of the evolving culture and background of diverse clients. Added to the above challenges for the general population, historically marginalized populations (i.e., BIPOC, LGBTQ+, individuals living with disabilities, etc.) have an increased likelihood to encounter additional job search barriers, such as microaggressions and discrimination (Wright & Chan, 2022). Further, research shows that COVID-19 has exacerbated employment inequalities for populations of color and communities from lower SES communities (Flores et al., 2019; Kantamneni, 2020).
Therefore, counselor educators should strongly consider including curriculum related to present-day job search as a part of educational training for career counselors-in-training (CITs).
Job Search Interventions
The NCDA Code of Ethics (2015) asserts that career counselors carry an ethical obligation to understand how to best match diverse clients with suitable and culturally sensitive employers. Career counselor educators can aid with this obligation by (a) conducting research related to the job search process, (b) disseminating findings to CITs, and (c) allowing CITs to gain experience assisting individuals from diverse backgrounds with the job search process. One way that career counselor educators can achieve these obligations is by involving CITs in job search interventions that increase knowledge related to the job search process, increase job search self-efficacy, and increase hope for future meaningful work. Job search interventions serve as a beneficial resource to job seekers, particularly those that emphasize effective job search behaviors. Emphasis on skill development (i.e., teaching job search skills and improving self-presentation) and motivation enhancement (i.e., increasing self-efficacy, helping with stress management, and promoting goal setting) are the most critical components of job search interventions (Liu et al., 2014). Counselor educators are responsible for disseminating research and carry an obligation to provide evidence-based strategies for CITs, per the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP, 2016). Yet, there is a dearth of research within the counselor education field that investigates evidenced-based job search interventions (Liu et al., 2014).
Implications for Practice
Career counselor educators may implement the following practices to engage career CITs with job search interventions:
- Inform CITs of key issues and challenges related to the impact of unemployment workforce trends and job search, particularly as it relates to individuals from diverse and vulnerable populations.
- Develop job search interventions with curriculum that emphasizes best practices for job search, particularly as it relates to remote work skills.
- This includes updated information on networking practices that incorporate social media platforms, virtual interviewing, and increasing computer literacy.
- Partner and connect with career agencies, nonprofit job aid organizations, and government assistance programs so that career CITS may obtain real world experience via practicum and internships.
- These organizations have had an increased volume of outreach following the pandemic. Not only will partnerships provide them with additional aid, but these partnerships will also allow CITs to obtain experience working with diverse clients.
- Conduct research to assess change or progress of job search interventions that are associated with employment success, such as level of job search knowledge, level of self-efficacy, and level of employment hope.
- This may allow researchers to disseminate findings on up-to-date practices and allow for students to become a part of studies that evaluate career counseling practices and/or issues.
- Researchers should include further explore qualitative research that explores the narratives of job seekers who participated in job search interventions.
- While quantitative research allows scholars to see statistical differences and influences of job search interventions, qualitative research may provide additional insight into the personal and unique experiences of these individuals.
The workforce has seen a drastic shift in the perspectives on work over the past two years. Career counselor educators are encouraged to implement practices to engage career CITs with job search interventions to meet the obligation to increase the competencies of CITs related to job search. Addressing the rising job priorities, challenges of the marginalized and the opportunities surrounding future research, the counselor educator can prepare career counselors to aid future clients with job searching.
Flores, L.Y., Martinez, L.D., McGillen, G.G., & Milord, J. (2019). Something old and something new: Future directions in vocational research with people of color in the United States. Journal of Career Assessment, 27, 187–208. https://doi.org/10.1177/1069072718822461
Geisler, J. (2021). The great resignation: Reality or myth? Healthcare Financial Management Magazine, 75, 44-45.
Krugman, P. (2021). Wonking out: Is the great resignation a great rethink? New York Times, 29.
Kantamneni, N. (2020). The impact of the COVID‐19 pandemic on marginalized populations in the United States: A research agenda. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 119. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2020.103439
Liu, S., Huang, J. L., & Wang, M. (2014). Effectiveness of job search interventions: A metaanalytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 140, 1009–1041.
National Career Development Association [NCDA]. (2015). 2015 NCDA Code of Ethics. Author. https://www.ncda.org/aws/NCDA/asset_manager/get_file/3395?ver=738700
Wright, G. G., & Chan, C. D. (2022). Integrating trauma-informed care into career counseling: A response to COVID-19 job loss for Black, indigenous, and people of color. Journal of employment counseling, 59(2), 91–99. https://doi.org/10.1002/joec.12186
Galaxina G. Wright, Ph.D., NCC is an Assistant Professor at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She earned her Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision at the University of Central Florida. She completed her master’s degree in Marriage, Couple & Family Counseling from Regent University, and is currently a Registered Mental Health Counseling Intern for the state of Florida working towards completing her hours for licensure. Galaxina carries a wide range of expertise providing career counseling and psychoeducation services including experiences in social services with low-income populations, a college career center, and academic and career advising within higher education. Her primary research interest surrounds career barriers among individuals and families from traditionally underrepresented populations, and her most recent study evaluated the impact of Project PATH, a psychoeducation workshop for unemployed individuals. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org