The National Career Development Association (NCDA) is celebrating November as National Career Development Month, providing a great opportunity to assess where you are in your career planning and what you've accomplished so far. Today is recognized as National Career Development Day, so use the occasion as a catalyst to reflect on your own career development, review a few helpful resources, and take action toward your goals.
The term career development covers a wide range of job-related decisions, activities, and growth that take place over the course of your life. NCDA has issued a policy statement with recommendations for career development across the lifespan from kindergarten through retirement. The Career Development for Adults [Doc] guidelines include the following components:
- Career appraisals that allow you to explore different career fields and how they might match your skills and interests. These may be self-assessments that you complete online, or professionally administrated assessments available at your career center or from a professional career services provider in your local area.
- Career information from a variety of sources providing details about the functions of different occupations and the requirements for entry. This information can include local, state, and national data, such as that offered through the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Occupational Outlook Handbook online, as well as the resources provided by physical career centers on-campus and in your community.
- Career counseling services in individual and group settings, facilitated by professionals who are qualified to provide you with advice and guidance with career development topics. NCDA offers a comparision chart that provides some background information about different categories of career services providers.
- Career training opportunities focused on preparing you to conduct a job search, secure employment, retain a job once you have it, and advance in a career path. Developing skills and experience in career decision-making will benefit you throughout your career.
- Career placement services cab help you to locate and interview with employers that are hiring in your field and provide follow-up activities to encourage continued career growth and advancement.
Have you engaged in all of these activities? You may have spent more time in one area than another, or maybe you are just getting started. While NCDA is primarily a professional organization for career counselors and advisors, this group also provides many online services and guidance for job seekers. Take a closer look at some of the items listed below and consider how you might apply these resources in your job search and career development process.
Finding and Choosing a Career Counselor
Do you need a career counselor? NCDA asks this question on its website. Even if you are already successfully engaged in a job or career, a counselor may be able to provide helpful assistance as you move forward. If you are currently enrolled in an academic program, your first stop for counseling should be your career center. Find out what assistance is available through your school. The career center may even host special National Career Development Month events!
If you are not currently a student, you may be able to take advantage of your school's services as an alumnus. You should also look for other sources of professional career guidance in your area, such as state workforce agencies and one-stop career centers. You may also be interested in working with a private practitioner. NCDA's consumer info page helps you find qualified counselors in your state, and also provides guidelines for what types of services you can expect and details about your rights as a client.
Career Planning and Job Search Resources
NCDA's website also provides a long list of Internet Sites for Career Planning. It's not an exhaustive list, but they have taken the time to review each link and provide a summary of what you can expect to find. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Job-Hunt.org: Advertising "free job search information, expert advice, and links to 18,375 employers and job search resources," this site offers a wide variety of assistance and is updated regularly with new articles and information from leaders in the career development field. You can also follow @JobHuntOrg on Twitter or join the Job-Hunt Help LinkedIn Group to receive updates and participate in related discussions.
- iSeek: This site is "Minnesota's comprehensive career, education, and job resource," but you don't have to be from Minnesota to reap the benefits. Use the Explore Careers tab to access self-assessment tools, career exploration resources for over 500 career titles, and "get a reality check" with salary and budget planning information.
- The Riley Guide: Another great library of career development and job search information, the Employment and Industry Trends page currently includes resources and advice for the over-50 worker, links to a host of government employment reports, and industry surveys. The Riley Guide also provides resume writing tips, salary guides, etc. Check out What's New for the latest additions to the guide. You can follow @rileyguide on Twitter and join their community on Facebook.
What can you do today?
What will you do today to further your career development? Explore one of the sites I've listed above. Add one of the related social media accounts to your network. Contact your school's career center or local workforce agency to find out more about their services. Print out your resume and identify updates you need to make. Select one small task to complete and let it help you build momentum.
No matter where you are in your career, whether you are just starting out, already advancing in your profession, or considering a career change, use National Career Development Day as a launching pad to move your own career planning forward.