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Choosing a Career-What the Research Tells Us

choosing a career
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Choosing a Career-What the Research Tells Us

Before coming to see me, many of my clients have tried choosing a career in the Do it yourself approach.

Some have spent thousands of dollars completing University Courses, listening to the advice of family and friends, and bought every career self-help book they could get their hands on in the hope that they had chosen a career that suited them.

There are also many individuals who were hoping that Google might be a good career advisor to help them work out what career change or career pathway could be right for them.

Many search and complete all the free career personality tests on offer but find they are still in a vicious cycle of indecision and confusion.

Why waste that precious time I ask?

Well, I should not be surprised, the DIY mentality has now become part of our culture since the 60s and 70s.

With Google and YouTube, you can pretty much look up anything from how to boil water, build a shed, sell your home simply by typing in ‘How to’.

Don’t get me wrong, DIY has its place and I’m the biggest DIY fan of certain activities, but do you really want to make career life decisions based on a Google search and waste years of your life in trial and error mode?

The irony in this approach is that many people still want an employer to drive their careers- No DIY approach in that!

They want the security of a full-time job, they want to be promoted and usually, they want a high salary.

Think about your current job for a minute.

If I outsourced your profession or job and made it a DIY profession how would you feel?

The whole idea behind DIY is to save money and customise the activity to your needs.


Who doesn’t want to save money and have a personalised approach, I do that as well, so I’m with you, I get it.

But let’s take a closer look at the real cost involved in a DIY decision.

The Real Cost of DIY Career Change

Let’s say you’re a professional lawyer, accountant or nurse aged around 28 and your name is Mary.

Mary has decided she hates her job, she is being dragged into meetings, working long hours, and has had enough.

Mary had a get-together with some friends over the weekend and she has been explaining her career dilemma to her closest friends.

Trying to help their friend out of a stressful situation, Mary’s friends suggest she would make a great teacher because she is caring and seems to have a lot of knowledge to share.

Mary thinks this is the answer because she trusts her friend’s opinions and becomes all excited about this prospective career change.

Sunday night Mary sets out madly googling postgraduate courses in teaching and signs up for a postgraduate university course in teaching to be completed over 4 years part-time while she works in the job she hates.

The course fees are around $12,400 but she doesn’t have to pay upfront she can put it on the back burner for a while.

After 4 years she graduates, leaves her current job, and gets her first teaching job at the local primary school.

By the end of a long week, Mary is having an anxiety attack because she discovers she doesn’t like being around primary school children and the work is too demanding.

By this stage, Mary contemplates sticking it out a couple of weeks to make sure it’s just not first week nerves.

By the end of 2 months she is hanging out for the school holidays and it finally dawns on her that teaching does not suit her. Her self-confidence dives, she is constantly anxious and then develops depression.

Now at the age of 32, she realises she has a HECS debt of around $13,500 if we include the HECS Debts Indexation Factor, has spent 4 years studying something that was not right for her, and hates her job more than her previous job.

The scenario above may seem unreal but I can assure you it is a story that I hear over and over again.

The HECS debt of some postgraduate courses can be as high as $28,000 and for undergraduate courses starting from $20,000 for a 3-year course up to $60,000 for a 5-year course.

Working in the wrong job does nothing to enhance your well-being and as a society, we all lose.

So, I ask again why subject yourself to this long painful process without seeking the right professional qualified advice, skills, and information?

As you can see the costs to Mary are both financial and personal in the long term.

2017 Meta-Analysis Research from the USA

Whether it’s your first choice or you are contemplating a career change, recent meta-analysis research (2017) from Indiana University in USA by Whiston, Mitts & Wright should give you confidence that seeking career support is a critical ingredient to career choice.

At a CDAA careers conference in Hobart, Professor Susan Whiston from the Department of Counselling and Educational Psychology presented her research on the critical ingredients for making effective career choices.

Critical Ingredients when making Career Decisions *& Choosing a Career

The research tells us that the critical ingredients today are:

1. One-on-one qualified career counsellor support
2. Values clarification
3. Psychoeducation (which is a fancy term for a counsellor improving the career knowledge and career skills of their client).

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This type of intervention had a positive influence on a person’s career decision-making self-efficacy as the person needs to make numerous career decisions over their lifespan.

Having learned how to do this with the career skills needed will allow a person to be able to make future career decisions.

The DIY career approach via the computer alone was found to be ineffective.

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Another important finding from the research is that Job Search interventions from a counsellor would only achieve employment when both skill development and motivation enhancement were included.

A major finding was the odds of obtaining employment were 2.67 times higher for job seekers participating in job search interventions compared to job seekers in the control group.

This was across all age groups young and older job seekers and clients that were unemployed for less than 6 months.

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To have this research emerge now is very timely.

Individuals are finding it increasingly confusing what to do next when career choices they have made in the past no longer are satisfying nor fulfilling but can’t understand why.

Comprehensive personalised guided career development and career management is not just a nice thing to do anymore, it’s a vital investment to your happiness, health and your ongoing livelihood in an uncertain economic and global environment.

Those who engage in it will always emerge as successful because it’s unique to you and you find meaning and purpose in your work.

One last thought.

If the idea of seeking free advice on Google still floats your boat, consider that the non-personalised general advice available is potentially being read by 1.17 billion people and some fraction of that number are competing with you for the same jobs.

So how will you plan to stand out?

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