November 2013 CCA E-Newsletter Article submitted by Michael Shavel, CCCDA

At no point in recent history have job seekers faced unprecedented concern and uncertainty over their economic future and ability to find suitable employment. Since 2008, millions of individuals have been laid-off due to downsizing, restructuring, and outsourcing, while employers have hired fewer workers during the recent recovery. The unemployment rate has remained stubbornly high with the supply of available labor outpacing the demand for new workers. Although many job seekers have returned to employment, a significant number of individuals, particularly those over fifty years of age, have either stopped trying to find work or have accepted positions well below their skill level.

Significant technological changes to the job search process coupled with many employers raising the level of qualifications for open positions have lead many qualified candidates to be essentially screened out of positions they once capably held. A still weak job market combined with a job search process that is often unkind and humiliating have contributed towards the hopelessness and frustrations of many job seekers, causing many to feel left behind.

Career counselors provide related counseling and guidance to a cross section of clients, some of whom may have received limited, if at all, career planning services from a High School or College Counselor, followed by a request for help several decades later only after a lay-off or exhaustion of unemployment benefits. Career theorist Donald Super viewed career planning, development and decision making as a lifelong process across all stages of psychological development. It is common in today’s labor market to see workers of all ages recycle through each of Super’s four stages of career development which are exploration, establishment, maintenance, and disengagement. There has been a marked increase in the number of workers of 55 either returning to the workforce or planning new careers for a variety of economic and psychological reasons. Many of these displaced workers believe they are completely at the mercy of the labor market and several hold the belief their future prospects are limited.

Career complacency might be examined as a potential factor that directly influences career choices and ability to effectively manage one’s career. The responsibility of career management has dramatically shifted from businesses to workers. According to Wikipedia, the definition of Career Management includes, among other steps, “taking control of one’s own personal development in order to maintain and enhance employability.” Informal definitions of career decision making and career management notwithstanding, these are economic times when deliberate career planning, done early and consistently throughout the lifespan may lead to greater career satisfaction and less desperation of the part of some displaced workers feeling a lack of control over their future.

A rhetorical question to ask a displaced worker in hindsight is whether they would have been more likely to pursue career related services throughout the lifespan as a preventative measure if such services would put them in a position to make more informed career choices and better adjust to a rapidly changing economy. Career development, management, and planning are all too important to end with a brief visit to the career planning office at high school or college or an unplanned meeting with a professional career counselor following a lay-off.

The Connecticut Career Counseling and Development Association (CCCDA), a subdivision of the Connecticut Counseling Association, is celebrating National Career Development month during November. The purpose of the CCCDA is to promote a greater understanding of the meaning of work and careers, to foster career development over the life span, and to establish, support, and improve standards for professional service in the field of career guidance and counseling in Connecticut. What better way to celebrate National Career Development Month than to promote the importance of career development, planning, and management by meeting with a Professional Career Counselor, found through the web site www.ccacounseling.com