You’ve reached the point in your life where you are ready to enter or re-enter the workforce. You may have a college degree in an esoteric major that qualifies you for few positions and makes you an expert in a vague topic, or you may not even have that degree. But work is what you want and need to do. Meeting with a career counselor seems the logical step. It’s not necessary to meet with a pricey professional counselor; instead, search your local state and county resources for free job counseling. Through them, you’ll become aware of what you are qualified to do and where the jobs are located.
Post-Recession Answer to Unemployment
The first decade of the 21st century saw a tremendous boom in the economy. People were working, jobs were plentiful, and the forecast looked positive. Until the bottom fell out by the end of the decade. Plants closed. Homes went into foreclosure. People were laid off or fired due to lack of work. Everyone from high-level executives to high-school dropouts faced financial ruin.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, instituted by President Barack Obama and passed by Congress in 2009, fueled the beginning of the country’s economic turnaround. Included in this act were monies dedicated to career counseling, known as Workforce Training.
Counseling centers in every state are one result of the ARRA. The American Department of Labor, through the American Job Center Network, operates Career One Stop. Through this service, unemployed workers can find training, opportunities and guidance as they deal with the mental and physical preparation of finding work. All at no cost.
Look the Part
Once you’ve found the career counseling service in your area, make an appointment for an interview. Give yourself a few days between the phone call and the appointment to prepare yourself. You want to make a good first impression, just as you would if you were going on an actual job interview, which in fact, is what you are doing.
Be clean, well-pressed and dressed in “going out to dinner” attire. In other words, jeans, a T-shirt and flip-flops won’t get you far. Have your job history written down and include a list of your skills. It’s not necessary to create a resume at this point. When that time comes, you’ll be guided.
Be on time and bring a notebook or paper and your own pen to take notes. Listen carefully as the counselor explains all the options available to you. If you are asked to follow up, do so punctually.
Take Advantage of Educational Opportunities
During your conversation with your career counselor, as he is getting to know you and your abilities, he may suggest a change of direction that includes furthering your education. He’ll also may help you find government sources that supplement or even completely pay for your education.
If you live in a state where community college is available at no cost, take advantage of it once you and your counselor pinpoint a career direction. Even if it’s just a workshop course, all education is a plus to add to your resume.
Free Online Career Tests
Many online websites offer free career tests that give you a summary of your best career opportunities and direction. Don’t get hooked into taking the test a step further and hiring one of the career counselors. Just use the results of the test to give you an indication of where your best opportunities lie.
In addition to online career tests, there are numerous free self-assessment tools that’ll help you prepare for all interviews. Read the details of each carefully to clarify the no-cost condition of taking the test; then proceed. Knowing yourself gives you the confidence you’ll need when speaking to your career-counselor.