An employment counselor provides people with advice and assistance which is designed to empower them to make wise career choices. Employment counselors work in a number of environments, including high schools and colleges, employment agencies, and agencies which provide social services. Employment in this field is open to people with varying levels of training, depending on where someone wishes to work, and professional employment counselors are often encouraged to pursue certification from a professional organization.
Employment counselors may work with individuals to provide one on one assistance, or with groups, providing more generalized advice. They talk to people to find out where their skills and talents lie, and to learn more about their goals. For example, someone might have mechanical aptitude which could pave the way for a career in engineering, or someone might want to be a doctor. In either case, the employment counselor can provide suggestions about how someone might achieve employment in a particular field.
Counseling can include the administration of aptitude tests which are designed to help the employment counselor collect information about clients, along with frank discussions which can sometimes be uncomfortable, as the counselor may need to tell someone that a goal is not realistic or achievable. Employment counselors help their clients set goals, and show them what they need to do in order to enter particular careers, whether it's as simple as applying for an open position, or as complex as attending a university and passing professional examinations.
Some employment counselors work with agencies which offer job placement, identifying potential careers for their clients and setting them off in the right direction. Others may give clients the tools and allow them to conduct job searches on their own. In high schools and colleges, employment counselors are more commonly known as vocational counselors or career counselors, and they provide general advice for students which will help them decide which classes to take, while counselors at placement agencies and social services organizations may be more focused on finding immediate employment for their clients.
Whether someone is seeking a job, starting out on a new career, or thinking about changing careers, it can be a good idea to see an employment counselor. The counselor can help prepare a resume, identify areas of professional weakness, and provide coaching and encouragement to help people push forward, even when they are frustrated or confused. Working with an employment counselor is sometimes required for people on public assistance, as a good faith demonstration of intent to find employment.