Helping Candidates Understand Their Personal Career Development: A Primer for Staffing Professionals (Part 2)

  By Frank Burnett  |    Monday June 26, 2012

Category: Certification, Education

How can staffing professionals assist candidates realize their full career potential? In Part 1 (January), my emphasis was on your understanding of the career development process as it applies to people across the life span. In this second part, I will address some specific ways the staffing professional can play a facilitative role in guiding people through their personal career development.

At the outset it is important to recognize that the relationship staffing professionals will have with candidates will take many forms as each candidate is at a different place in his/her own personal career development. For some it is simply a matter of finding a job. For other it is changing a job---doing the same thing in a different environment. For others, it will be adding responsibility and status as a result of their time and experience at doing the work. Some may want to stop what they are doing and move to something completely different. The career development needs of your candidates will vary dramatically from person to person.

A recent posting on the Yahoo Hot Jobs electronic board cited the role of career counseloras a position in demand during the current economic crisis. The Yahoo posted stated the following:

“Career Counselor: More folks than usual are starting off the New Year without a job in sight. How can the out-of-work find gainful employment? From outplacement agencies to government programs, career counselors and coaches will be very busy in 2009 helping make things easier. "

In response, I would offer the perspective that counseling needs to be performed by individuals specifically trained and credentialed in this professional area. In fact, licensure laws have been established in 49 states defining counseling and setting forth the role of counselor for the consuming public. Coaching, however, is a less intense relationship, but clearly one should not venture into this type of a “helping” relationship without formal preparation and relevant experience.

There is, however, a role for staffing professionals and others to play in helping people navigate the various employment experiences and achieve a full measure of career satisfaction and security in the workplace. A great part of that role has to do with information---identifying it, referring the candidate to it and then helping the person again after he/she has had an “informational experience.”

Whether looking for their first position or their tenth, job seekers need quality information, a factor that staffing firms respond to with varying degrees of success. A professor of mine once told me that information had three functions in helping people make decisions:

  1. Information answer questions.
  2. Information corrects the inaccurate belief and helps to dispel myths.
  3. Information can motivate.

Before one can enter into, move around or change their position in the workplace, they will likely generate a lot of questions. Facilitating their decision-making often is as simple as helping the individual get answers to a question or many questions. The result is a better-informed individual, one more capable of making a quality decision.

Many candidates for jobs or job change operate in a world distorted by inaccuracies and riddled with myths. Good information can correct those inaccuracies and dispel those myths. Knowledge that a firm has added a new division or expanding its product line helps the job seeker to update his/her knowledge base. The information shared by the staffing professional has an “empowerment” influence.

The third and must underutilized role of information is to motivate. Many who are unemployed or underemployed in the current economy could have or should have seen their situation more clearly ahead of time and acted. In this marketplace, the furloughs and layoffs extend beyond just the average Joes and Janes. They are affecting stronger workers, ones making a reasonable contribution to their firm, organization or agency, but victims of the economy as we see it today.

Information that helps individuals explore and learn and grow in a time of comfort---not one of crisis---has a motivational effect on them and they become people who are exploring options and making better decisions. Information can motivate people to go back to school, move to a different part of the country, and consider a wider range of options and other kinds of changes.

Staffing professionals are uniquely position to help people with their personal career development. They can also connect individuals with specialized needs by referring them to professionals (e.g., counselor who does aptitude and interest testing in the career center at a local college, etc.) capable of responding to their special need or attending to a specific issue or problem.

In working with candidates, think about the career development process that I have outlined in these two articles. Get a handle on the process personally by looking into a mirror and examining where you are, where you have been and where you want to go. Understanding the career development continuum is the first step to helping others navigate their life and career transition. Then consider the role which information plays and you as an information purveyor can play in helping them move from where they are to where they wish to be. 

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