Effective CareerService Overview
An effective career development service is one that delivers relevant, appropriate information.
Effective Career Service Overview
This competency requires a career development practitioner to:
- Provide career information and advice, using appropriate and available means, resources and/or technologies.
- Deliver career information sessions.
- Facilitate individual and group career information sessions.
- Conceptualise a career development programme for clients.
- Design a career development programme for clients.
- Deliver a career development programme for clients.
- Evaluate a career development programme with clients.
Let us take a brief look at the case study which highlights the provision of effective career development services. The following information, tips, guidelines and questions will assist you.
There will be some comments and questions relating to the case study so bear that in mind as you continue.
Mindy Sithole recently completed her three-year BSc degree in Agricultural Science. She was not sure on how to proceed. Ideally for Mindy, finding a job will assist her in helping her family financially. Mindy was concerned that all her friends who graduated were not finding jobs. She decides to make herself visible to the world and makes an appointment with the career development practitioner. This helps Mindy in redirecting her attention to the goal of securing work.
She finds out how to isolate a few organisations based on her personal preferences. The practitioner tells her about the importance of a curriculum vitae and they design a CV together with important elements like a personal statement, education and qualifications, skills section, experience and references. Mindy’s confidence starts to increase as she realises how much she has achieved. She has served on many student bodies, committees and does the same in her church.
Mindy creates a clear CV and cover letter for herself.
Mindy learned about job searching skills from the traditional approaches which included techniques like scanning newspapers, referrals (from friends and family) and telephone cold calling, to the modern approaches like job search engines, Twitter and LinkedIn. Her attention is drawn to “personal branding” where Mindy learns the value of an online presence. Mindy also learned how to search for jobs on governmental sites when the practitioner encouraged her to search for “South African governmental jobs”. She learned how to register on the Employment Services of South Africa, which served to link unemployed people with possible vacancies.
While Mindy is job hunting, she is volunteering at her church and has joined a local non-profit organisation and loved her new community development focus. By doing so she has developed many skills and is gaining skills that make her easy to employ, such as working as a part of a team, using resources creatively and sparingly, and working with other community stakeholders such as government and donors.
The practitioner mentioned trusted job portals (Career Jet, Indeed, Career Junction, Careers24, Job mail, Best Jobs, Pnet, Jobvine and Bizcommunity) and recruitment agencies, so Mindy keeps checking these and some alert her if jobs matching results in her profile come up.
Mindy is gaining confidence after she did a presentation for her community project. People are complimenting her on her good work ethic, because she is always on time and keeps her word. Mindy feels empowered and her job search has already had her shortlisted and interviewed twice. She knows if she keeps on volunteering, learning new life skills and searching for a job, she will find something soon.
She lives with a sense of worth and hope and this inspired her to start her own programme for children, namely a food gardening project at three local primary schools. It is growing every day and her CV is growing too, along with a great list of references. She makes sure she gets a testimonial from all the people that compliment her efforts.
Soon Mindy is handpicked for a scholarship programme with all expenses paid by one of the donors that were involved in her community. They noticed her skills, values and attitude and wanted to reward her commitment. She will even have a mentor that she will meet with monthly to see if she is able to cope. When she completes the programme, she will have a permanent position at the company.
A functional career development service is only possible when such a service is delivered in an effective manner. An effective career development service is one that delivers relevant, appropriate information in a group setting according to the group’s needs, or on a one-on-one basis, where information has been tailored to the needs of an individual client. Recognizing the needs of a client, aligning the information, delivering the content and evaluating its impact, is essential for an effective career development service. Career practitioners can further assist people by providing useful information such as career websites, bursary sites and other resources to individuals. Practitioners can also provide coaching or tips to students and individuals such as effective ways to research jobs online, the most trustworthy job sites and how to spot potential recruitment scams.
Failure to deliver an effective service has far-reaching consequences. Access to information is limited and individuals usually have to source information by themselves. As students or clients may not be equipped with the proper knowledge or understanding, many end up with wrong subject choices, which negatively impacts study options later, results in inadequate preparation for college, career indecision, as well as delays in the decision-making process for students.
When designing career information sessions, career practitioners need to take many considerations into account. These include:
Who is your target audience and what are their needs?
Each group has different needs, for example, school learners at Grade 9 would require information regarding subject choices, and those in Grade 12 the necessary points needed for admission into a university; a final-year student would require information regarding CV writing skills, interview skills, cover letters, etc.
You need to ask questions: Is your session targeted towards high-school learners, first-year university students or final year students or career transitioners like people who are about to retire who need a new career adventure.
How can a practitioner gain access to these individuals?
There are several ways of making individuals aware of career development services. Sending out notices to university students via their university email, using school and university notice boards, posters, newspapers and the use of social media are a few ways of making people aware of career development services.
Parents and strategies to involve parents, is not to be left out. Families need to be engaged and to be given skills to discuss the issues.
You may need a good marketing strategy and a marketing campaign that is targeted to create awareness.
What is the best method for delivering services?
There are several avenues of delivery such as face-to-face presentations, workshops or using many different social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Youtube videos, and one can also create Podcasts.
There are platforms that make group meetings and discussions possible like ZOOM and Microsoft Teams. The choice depends on your client and what they prefer. You must know what the client is comfortable with. Some might send you an email or WhatsApp text message asking for help and you can assess what they need and help them if you can reach them in any way or means possible.
As mentioned, make sure you have a policy in place for using various platforms. Not everybody will use these platforms in the same manner, so some protocols and rules need to be set.
Do I deliver one-on-one sessions or group sessions? Group sessions are effective for reaching many clients or students with appropriate information on a variety of career topics, however, if students have specific concerns or questions, they should approach the practitioner for a one-on-one session. Clients can also be grouped homogeneously according to their needs, for example a study skills session. What considerations do practitioners need to explore? Practitioners need to take several factors into account, such as the possibility of language barriers. Practitioners need to come up with strategies to assist clients who do not speak the same language as them. Consider how much time you have and how big the audience is, before you decide how to deliver your service. The learning styles are important. If you deliver your career information focusing on one learning style, it may not match each individual’s learning style, or some of the group members may not take the information in as well as they should. Learning styles are visual, auditory, reading, writing and kinesthetic.
Do I charge? If yes, how?
Some career services in South Africa are free, so if you charge, be careful that you may have many competitors. You would have to have special and innovative services to compete with the many free services like the Department of Employment and Labour offices and Department of Higher Education and Training, that offer career advice and guidance at no cost to clients. Many schools and colleges also offer career advice and guidance at no cost to students as this is included in the academic fees.
How can I measure if clients valued the session content?
A simple way to determine if the content was of value to an individual, is by means of an evaluation form. Evaluation forms serve as feedback to the practitioner on which areas clients may have found scanty or uninformative. An organisation may also require additional performance information, such as number of clients served, quality of services, outcomes, etc.
What can I do to build and expand on capacity to deliver effective career services?
There are a few ways in which a practitioner can expand their capacity. Some examples are, by observing other career sessions and engaging with colleagues, staying up to date with social media and ways of connecting with people, getting support and feedback from a mentor, and by becoming a member of SACDA. By becoming a member, a practitioner can make use of the various resources available to assist in career development.
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Kindly attribute as follows:
Beukes, C. J., Mahadave, K., & Kanhai, K. (2022). Professional Development Portfolio for Career Development Practitioners (1st ed.). CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 ZA, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/za
Christopher John Beukes
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