ACA Blog

Michael Walters
Nov 21, 2011

Career Development Via Holiday Gatherings

“It’s the most wonderful time of year.” However, many people are in employment situations which are causing them grief and stress. For example, there are many people who are unemployed, and there are many high school and college students who are unsure of their college and career direction. So, as you gather together during the holiday season with friends and family as well as with new acquaintances, this can be a very good time to have conversations with people to help them with their career development and provide them with hope for the upcoming year.

As a counselor, I view career development to be a complex process of acquiring the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to make work a meaningful, productive, and satisfying part of life. I also view career development to have a series of steps involving self-assessment, career awareness, career exploration, decision-making, and educational planning, as well as job search preparation skills. At the same time, I am aware of how economic conditions, cost of education, and employment trends are key factors impacting career development. Yet through career choices and consequences, I believe we all understand the personal steps of our own career development. Consequently, sharing your career development story and career network just may be the gift which helps a person with his/her career development—a good gift to give during this season of hope.
Below are seven ways to initiate a conversation to help a person with career development:
1.After talking about your career development story, ask the person to tell you about his/her career aspirations.
2.Actively listen to the person tell you about his/her career aspirations.
3.Engage in conversation which leads the person to identify his/her primary interests.
4.Ask the person if he/she can see how those primary interests can be matched with his/her dream career or other careers with such work-related interests.
5.Ask the person if he/she can identify skills and abilities he/she possesses or needs to acquire in order to obtain employment in his/her dream career or related career.
6.Engage in conversation that leads the person identify his/her work values such as income, challenge, helping others, variety, creativity, independence, or prestige. In fact, research has shown that people who choose occupations that support their values are generally more satisfied with their jobs. For some people, job satisfaction comes from performing the work itself; for others, it is a result of factors such as the work environment or earning potential.
7.Share some of your career network contacts with the person to help with his/her career development.



Michael Walters is a high school counselor and a licensed professional counselor. He has a special interest in strengthening family relationships and empowering individuals to reach their goals.

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