Australian research confirms career counselling is beneficial, and tells us what works best for clients is when career advisers use techniques and skills in specific ways to meet the needs of their particular clients. The career development method used in my service focuses on how to best use your strengths in your whole life, for the work life balance you want. For clients of Career Counselling Perth, a deliberative approach to career management is useful when facing the significant pressures of changing careers; or an urgent need to re-enter the workforce; or when you want to improve your long-term career prospects in a weak economy. My approach aims to polish your strengths to create a foundation for a holistic, systems theory approach to resolving your career issue, and fostering your particular lifestyle vision. My role is to assist you with learning to employ your strengths in ways that creatively improve your effectiveness across your whole life.
This service, because of its highly personalised nature, tends to have a flexible, responsive structure, and is shaped to meet your needs, identify your strengths, and understand your personal life experience.
Benefits of career counselling
- Improving career and learning decisions
- Staying in the work-force and possibly obtaining full-time employment
- Better well-being
- Improved quality of life, including engagement with community, engagement with interests and values
- Increased capacity to live your desired lifestyle
Career development is a learning pathway that aims to develop a range of career management skills. The changing world of work is affecting working women more than men according to the World Economic Forum. Career counselling can address some of the needs of professional mid-career mothers by introducing a strengths assessment, then systematically enhancing three salient career management skills to successfully promote your career goals. One of the aims of my Career Counselling Perth service is to provide creative and holistic support for the emerging needs of women in mid-career, and their aim of maintaining professional employment across WA’s boom bust economic cycles.
Career development needs of mid-career women
Mid-career woman aged 35 or more have a range of career development needs stemming from life-stage transitions. Additionally, they often have to overcome age and gender barriers in their workplace and potential employers. Their professional career goals include: a desire for continuing employment, both for the stimulation it provides, and the financial demands of lifestyle and retirement. Research indicates career management skills of work-life balance; life-long learning; and a positive self-concept grounded in a keen understanding of their capacities and limitations, are among the key career development needs of professional women.
Mid-career women are likely to be in transition on several levels. Firstly, after establishing a professional career, around the age of 40 there is a transition to the maintenance career stage and mindset. A characteristic of this transition is to question whether to continue growing in the current career, or whether to re-orientate. The latter option often arises if there is a desire to reclaim aspects of the self that the prioritisation of other aspects of life has over-ridden, including “suppressed talents, interests and values.” Once through this transition the next ‘Establishment’ stage continues into the mid-60’s for professionals. The primary career management task for individuals in Establishment is to preserve their professional self-concept. That task is often aided by consciously “re-finding their self” when you are in the mid-career mindset.
Other transitions women may have to navigate in their 30’s and 40’s are returning to education or employment after a break; seeking full-time work as their child-rearing responsibilities ease; or seeking a new employment contract or project – the emerging norm in today’s world of work. For many women in their 40’s an important factor in successfully dealing with these transitions is having a strong positive self-concept, which is a significant career management skill. Researchers have concluded a strong, positive self-esteem is particularly important when employment for mid-career professionals finishes for reasons other than the natural end of a contract. These reasons include changes like “relocation, family circumstances …and unexpected circumstances” that can often disrupt a women’s career path.
Another transition mid-career professionals need to take into account in career coaching is the transformation taking place in the world of work. The way work has evolved in Australia and other nations increasingly puts the responsibility for all elements of a person’s career on the individual rather than their employer. Now success with your career goals often comes from horizontal growth, rather than the linear progress through seniority or upward mobility in an organisational hierarchy. Careers are becoming multi-directional, and more commonly involve many organisations and roles. In today’s world of work more and more “people experience a shortened version of the maintenance” career stage, in line with the flattening structures in many organisations and the replacement of full-time core professionals with gig based human resourcing. In this environment people need to understand how their skills are transferable; and how to capitalise on, extend and increasingly re-orient their strengths, knowledge and skillsets. This often means the career management skill of lifelong learning to support their career goals becomes a vital career development need.
Research shows the work-life balance career management skill is also critical for women with children early in their careers. Moreover, by mid-career further needs have to be accommodated within the expanding matrix of their responsibilities in seemingly every sphere of their life. in the mid-career transition women often experience an emerging desire to start “…including themselves and personal time in the equation” of their work-life balance requirements. Accommodating those needs within the demands already placed upon them; from the extra pressure in the workplace on account of their gender; and the burden of domestic and child-rearing responsibilities, is clearly a challenge. Additionally, by mid-career women are often experiencing an increased demand to provide elder-care. The complexity of their lives and the magnitude of the challenge should not become a reason to diminish the significance of the new needs and the prioritisation of resource allocation to work out how to accommodate those needs during the crucial mid-career stage.
In summary, Mikes Career Counselling Perth service takes an ecological approach to focus on three career management skills identified as top level priorities for professionals in the mid-stage of their career path. These are:
- 1) Build and maintain a positive self-concept ;
- 2) Participate in life-long learning supportive of career goals; and,
- 3) Maintain balanced life and work roles.
Why career advice can assist mid-career women
My interest in assisting professional women over 35 grew from the circumstances of my life; a very early engagement with Simone de Beauvoir’s work; and long observation of, and academic confirmation of the structural disadvantages many women face in the workforce, and the obstacles mid-career women have long had to put up with to retain ongoing and meaningful work. Mature workers of either gender face difficulties obtaining employment after they reach 45. Women however, have an even greater challenge than men obtaining interesting work later in life, due to the greater complexity of their career path.
Professional women already have a lower participation rate in the workforce; they are more likely to be employed in a part-time capacity; and their mean income is significantly lower than men’s. Furthermore, in the medium term the world of work is changing in ways that are eliminating significantly more jobs currently held by women than are being replaced with newly emerging roles.
A World Economic Forum report predicts, of the jobs currently held by women, only one new job will be created for every six jobs lost due to the structural changes in the years leading to 2021. Women working in administrative, sales and customer service roles are most at risk. Even before these changes, many organisations encounter difficulties retaining mature women. They employ women at entry and junior levels and are unable to retain them later in their working lives.
Women too want to retain employment in the paid workforce. Being able to fund your desired lifestyle is chief among the benefits of ongoing employment. Another is having the capacity to self-fund your retirement. Employment is also desired by women because it provides meaning, intellectual stimulation and creativity. There is also the emotional damage of un and under-employment: “unemployment research has substantiated that those who were unemployed, defined as jobless and seeking work, experienced damaging effects to their psychological health.”
Career coaching services are often only accessed when someone becomes unemployed. Notably, publicly funded services rarely meet the needs of mid-career women who have attained a degree of career competence. Furthermore, research shows mid-career professionals rarely access the full-service career counselling provided by private career development professionals. At present there are few free career development resources available for mature professionals. The Australian Government’s Jobactive service provides basic job and interview coaching services for people working less than 15 hours a week. Currently there is one career development program available through MOOC’s. Although it too targets university students and recent graduates in the USA rather than Australian professional women.
If you think career counselling can benefit your career path please contact Mike through the contact page on this site or via Linkedin.
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