Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The Career Counseling Dilemma

Many career counselors have difficulty applying conventional career planning and job search techniques to individuals with such motivations and behaviors. After all, conventional career planning and job search methods are based upon a model of "success" appropriate for the U.S. job market. They are culturally specific methods that assume individuals will be motivated by money, career advancement, and self-fulfillment.

What, then, happens when these methods are applied to individuals who fundamentally reject such a conventional "success" model in favor of seeking new experiences, following their intuition, pursuing a mission or dream, or satisfying lifestyle goals? Either individuals must alter their motivations and goals in order to make the methods work successfully, or the methods must be fundamentally altered to accommodate a very different set of motivations and goals.

Not surprising, international job seekers pose a basic dilemma for career counselors: How do you counsel someone whose primary concern is to find a job that will support an international lifestyle rather than to find a job they do well and enjoy doing and which leads to career advancement?

How does one deal with the fundamentals of motivation and goal setting when such individuals do not fit into the conventional pattern of successful career planning? How helpful will the standard career planning and job search methods be in assisting someone who is unwilling to put money and career success first? How can we best assist people in finding jobs that may not necessarily use their strengths and often result in short-term and unstable employment? How can one go beyond pointing these people in the direction of job vacancy information and announcements in helping them find jobs and develop long-term careers in the international arena?

The very nature of the international job market challenges many conventional career planning and job search methods. Career planning approaches, for example, requiring job seekers to first assess their skills, abilities, and work values and then formulate a career objective that guides their job search toward satisfying long-term careers and progressive career advancement do not work well.

The international employment arena simply is not structured to permit the success of such models and methods.

Rather, this is a highly fragmented and segmented job market; access is often difficult if not impossible for many types of jobs; employment is frequently short-termwith a three-year contract considered an excellent job opportunity; job-hopping among many disjointed jobs requiring different mixes of skills is a common pattern for those intent upon continuing employment abroad; and geographic location and cultural settings of employment blur the more traditional skill requirements for job performance.

This structure forces international job seekers into a particular pattern for finding and maintaining jobs: they quickly learn the art of networking for developing professional relationships as well as for accessing job vacancy information. In short, those committed to seeking international jobs must be prepared to address both the lifestyle and career questions simultaneously.