Australian researchers have demonstrated career counselling works and that what matters for clients is that the techniques and skills of career practitioners focus on specific ways to meet the needs of particular clients.
Clients in Perth can often experience career counselling as slow-paced when they are facing the significant pressures of changing careers, or an urgent need to re-enter the workforce. My approach relies on the Clifton StrengthsFinder® tool to create a foundation for a holistic, systems theory approach to resolving your career issue., by focusing on the salient aspects of your particular niche. The aim being to employ your strengths in a way that holistically improves your effectiveness througout your whole niche.
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 so as to
Staying in the work-force and possibly obtaining full-time employment.
Improved quality of life, including engagement with community, engagement with interests and values
Increased capacity to live your desired lifestyle
Career counselling is a learning modality that aims to develop a range of career management skills. The changing world of work will affect working women more than men in the coming years according to the World Economic Forum. Career counselling can address some of the needs of mid-career mothers by introducing the Clifton StrengthsFinder® personality assessment, then systematically developing a range of career management competencies. One of the aims of my career counselling Perth service is to meet the emerging needs of women in mid-career, and support their aim of maintaining employment, as they grow older in WA’s boom bust economic cycles.
Career Development Needs of Mid-Career Women
Mid-career woman aged 40 or more have a range of career development needs stemming from life-stage transitions, and age & gender barriers to employment. The genesis of their career development needs is a desire for continuing employment, both for the stimulation it provides, and the financial demands of lifestyle and retirement. Research suggests the career management skills and competencies of work-life balance; life-long learning; and positive self-concept grounded in a keen understanding of their capacities and limitations are among the key career development needs of these clients.
Mid-career women are likely to be in transition on several levels. Firstly, in line with Donald Super’s career maxicycle across the lifespan, after establishing a career, around the age of 40 there is a transition to the maintenance stage of the life-span. A characteristic of this transition is to question whether to stabilise in the current career or to re-orientate, especially if there is a desire to reclaim aspects of the self that the prioritisation of other aspects of life had over-ridden, including “suppressed talents, interests and values.” Once through this transition the next stage, establishment, runs to the mid-60’s. The primary career management task for individuals in that stage is preservation of the self-concept, which may involve “re-finding their self” at mid-career.
Another common level of transition for women in their 40’s is 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 – an emerging norm in the changing world of work. For many women in their 40’s an important factor in successfully dealing with these types of transitions is the career management competency of a positive self-concept. Strong, positive self-esteem appears to be particularly important when employment for mid-career women finishes for reasons other than the natural end of a contract, including the changes women often experience due to “relocation, family circumstances …and unexpected circumstances.”
The last level of transition taken into account in with mid-career woman is the transformation taking place in the world of work. The way work is evolving in Australia and other nations puts the responsibility for a person’s career more firmly with the individual rather than their employer. Now career success tends to be about horizontal growth, rather than the linear progress through seniority or upward mobility in an organisational hierarchy. Careers are becoming multi-directional, more commonly involving many organisations and roles across the career. Savickas notes “some people experience a shortened version of maintenance” in today’s world of work. In this environment people need to understand how their skills are transferrable; and how to capitalise on and extend their strengths, knowledge and skillsets. That is, their career development needs include developing the career management competency number 4 of the Australian Blueprint for Career Development of lifelong learning to support their career goals.
Research suggests the work-life balance career management competency, is critical for women with children early in their careers, and by mid-career further needs have to be accommodated within their matrix of responsibilities. The mid-career transition often sees women experiencing an emerging desire to now “…include themselves and personal time in the equation.” Those needs have to be accommodated within the demands already placed upon them by having extra pressure in the workplace on account of their gender, and the burden of domestic and child-rearing responsibilities. Additionally, by mid-career women are often experiencing an increased demand to provide elder-care.
In summary, Mikes career counselling service takes an ecolopgical approach to focus on three career management competencies listed in the Blueprint in response to the identified needs of mid-career mothers. These are:
competency: 1) Build and maintain a positive self-concept;
Competency 4) Participate in life-long learning supportive of career goals; and,
Competency 9) Maintain balanced life and work roles.
Why mid-career women may need career counselling
My interest in assisting working mothers over 40 grew out of learning about the structural disadvantages many women experience in the workforce, and the obstacles that presents mid-career women desire to retain ongoing and meaningful work. Mature workers of either gender already face difficulties obtaining employment after age 45. However, women face an even greater challenge than men obtaining work later in life due to their more complex career trajectories.
Women already have a lower participation rate in the workforce; 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 expected to change in ways that will eliminate significantly more jobs currently held by women than will be replaced.
A World Economic Forum report (2016) predicts, of the jobs currently held by women, only one new job will be created for every six jobs lost dues to the structural changes between now and 2020. 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. Chief amongst the benefits of ongoing employment is a capacity to live a desired lifestyle, and to self-fund retirement. Employment is also desired by women because it provides meaning, intellectual stimulation and creativity. Furthermore, “unemployment research has substantiated that those who were unemployed, defined as jobless and seeking work, experienced damaging effects to their psychological health.”
Career development services are often only accessed when someone becomes unemployed, and publicly funded services rarely meet the needs of mid-career women who have attained a degree of career competence. Furthermore, research shows mid-career women 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 workers. 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 targets college students and recent graduates in the USA.
If you think career counselling might benefit you please contact Mike through the contact page on this site or via Linkedin.
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