Career Counseling: what has changed?

Someone asked me recently what has changed in the field of career counseling in the last (gulp) thirty years.

And the more I reflect on this question, the more changes come to mind. In the next few postings, I will identify some developments in the field, most of which have proven to be helpful to practitioner and client alike.

Let’s talk about attitudes. In the 1970s, the workplace was defined in a far more rigid way than it is today. True, newspaper classified ads were no longer listed under male and female, but certain assumptions were still alive and well. And let’s remember that newspapers were the primary source of finding openings.

It was daunting indeed to contemplate breaking down barriers, pushing against low expectations, asking/demanding to be taken seriously. And so career counseling focused partly on confidence-building. It was not enough to give an assessment, identify interests, and locate likely sources of employment. One had to gear up, work on professional attire, and strategize on appearing confident and comfortably ambitious in the interview. Remember all those workshops on assertiveness training?

These are still tasks in career work. We still work on attitudes and expectations, we still have to overcome negativity, we still work on what to wear and how to present ourselves. We still rehearse sticky interview questions and identify points that we should be making and topics we should avoid.

Yet I think that progress has been made in the significant area of belonging in the world of work. Many more people of diverse backgrounds see themselves as workers or potential workers. Selling clients on their right to participate in paid employment is a much smaller part of career counseling than it used to be. And that is really good news.

If you would like to share changes in your career expectations in the past years, please add a comment. If you would like to speak with a career counselor about your own career path, please visit my website at for contact information.


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