Life in Motion Counseling & Psychotherapy
My Approaches to Career Counseling
Job, Career, Profession, Vocation
What is the difference? Here's how I tend to think about these terms:
A job often means, simply, "employment": work that enables you to live, and perhaps supports you in activities and pursuits that don't pay, but have more meaning or value to you. Not everyone draws their greatest fulfillment from their job, yet are happy and satisfied within it. When I was an actor in New York, I worked second shift in law firms. The work came easily to me, so left my creative energies more or less intact for my "real" work; working in the evenings left me free to audition and rehearse without having to beg time off; I had health insurance; and the hourly rate meant not having to work 40 hrs/week to pay the bills. So, while the job itself wasn't terribly gratifying, it provided a lot more than a paycheck. My job supported me materially, but more importantly, it supported me in pursuing the work that meant the most to me.
Can "career counseling" help you get a job?
That depends on what you need. There are certainly wonderful career coaches and counselors who can advise you in all the important mechanics of the job hunt: creating a résumé, honing interview skills, testing your aptitudes and interests. My work with people centers on helping you determine what kind of job would be optimal for you. You make yourself a more appealing candidate for any job when you are confident that it will be a good fit with your life, not just your bank account. Together, we could discover what you really want (and don't want!) your job to be like. Listening closely, I might hear you express interests, priorities, criteria that you have not yet recognized were important to you. We could then clarify your vision and goals. This kind of career counseling can also facilitate your decision-making and lend support as you undergo your search for, or transition into, a new job.
"Career"sounds to me like something with a shape, an arc, a built-in assumption that there will be development and growth over time. A career might comprise many different jobs. People who envision "having a career" often have a general idea of a progression, a sense of how they expect, or would like for, that career to unfold. Of course, what we expect and plan is not always what we get. Maybe we're on exactly the path we chose, but finding it filled with elements we didn't anticipate and don't much care for. Or a career shapes up just as hoped, but our lives (or selves) change in ways that create tension, confusion, conflict, imbalance that needs to be resolved. And sometimes, we realize this wasn't the right path for us, after all, or we find ourselves yearning for a change, even if we're not entirely sure what that might be. Counseling can be especially productive in all phases of career, regardless of the nature of the particular development that is emerging or desired. My passion is to be an advocate for authenticity. To help clients bring their career path into happy alignment with their overall life goals, values, priorities. To help clients hear the inner whispers that might be drowned out by the clamor of others' voices giving advice or warning. To reflect back the vision a client is shaping when it's just outside their awareness. And then, as always, to facilitate decision-making and support the process of
"Profession" is usually a defined area of endeavor.
One profession might well encompass several changes of direction along the career path, and may also consist of many different jobs. It sems to me, too, that when we think of ourselves as "having a profession," there is a certain amount of self-identification with our work. An over identification with work can create problems, from relationship difficulties to the most fundamental existential issue of "Who am I?" These are all great issues to bring into counseling. It's possible to be a dedicated professional, to work hard, to have ambition, and still have your work be something you do, without its becoming who you are - or the limit of who experience yourself to be.
Favorite Quotes (That Can Be) About Work
...the heart craves recognition and appreciation; only a neurotically puritanical mind would deny the soul these graces.
---Thomas Moore, Soulmates p. 67
The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.
--- Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Seeker's ABC
We must be careful with our lives...because it would seem that they are the only lives we are going to have in this puzzling and perilous world, and so they are very precious, and what we do with them matters enormously.
--- Frederick Buechner
(More to come! If you have a favorite quote about work, vocation, calling, email it to me. I'd love to add it to my collection, and may post it here or on the blog.)