(Last Updated On: 04/04/2017)

I’m a firm believer in being genuine at work. When I advise students or career professionals, I try to be as transparent as possible, and to share as much “real” information as I can about the world of work. That being said, there are still some boundaries that have to remain intact, if only to keep that professional code of conduct in place.

Today, however, I’ve decided to break through those boundaries, and share what really goes on in the mind of a career counselor. One caveat: I am only one counselor of many, these opinions and viewpoints are my own, and may not necessarily be shared by others (but I’ll bet you most of ‘em are…) Happy reading!

Resumes Actually Aren’t That Important

I can hear the screams all the way over here. That’s right, I said it. Resumes aren’t that important.

Now, I didn’t say they weren’t important at ALL; of course we each need to have a professional, polished document that highlights our skills and what we have to offer the marketplace. But it’s not EVERYTHING.

A resume is simply one part of your overall job search strategy. It is basically a piece of marketing – meant to share just enough about who you are so that a potential employer yearns to learn more. If people spent as much time building relationships (networking), thinking about their career values and motivators, and their preferred workplace culture as they do on their resume, I’m guessing we’d have a much more engaged workforce.

It’s easy to spend so much time on a resume because it’s a “thing.” It’s tangible, black and white, and when you are finished with it, you have a document in your hand. The rest of “career” isn’t that easy. Career development is squishy. There are no true right or wrong answers when it comes to your own career journey – most answers lie in shades of gray, so of course when it comes time to think about one’s job search strategy, most people will gravitate towards the “finished product” because it’s easier.

We Probably Don’t Remember Your Name

Career counselors see a myriad of faces every day. We advise hundreds of students. We facilitate workshops at large corporations. We volunteer with alumni groups or hold networking breakfast events. In short, career counselors interact with a LOT of people. We hear all kinds of stories – we know of your personal struggles, your fears, your family finances.

Career decisions are not made in a vacuum, and we know that whatever choice you make will have a very large impact on your life. We know how important those personal “life pieces” are, and we take them very seriously when speaking with you. It’s why we do what we do – we genuinely care.

But we are also human, and we may sometimes forget the small details, or even sometimes the big details, like your name. Please help us out by refreshing us with your name when you see us in a school hallway or at the Chamber of Commerce event. And remember, it truly doesn’t mean we don’t care. We really do. I promise.

When You Don’t Show Up, We DO Remember Your Name

There is an incredible amount of behind the scenes work that goes into being a career counselor. It is a changing field, and if we really are going to stay on top of our game, we need to always be furthering our own development and education. We read websites, journals, and textbooks. We reach out to employers to connect and learn of opportunities. We plan events and take care of all the logistics from A to Z. (In reality, most career counselors could also call themselves event planners!)

In between all of those responsibilities, we also set time aside for appointments. When you don’t show up, it throws us off our game.

Just like every other job these days, we’re managing a “To-Do” list about a mile long, and even though we may appreciate the 30 minute gift of time in the short term, in the long run we know that missed appointments eventually lead to mad dashes of rescheduling and scrambling to fit them in at other times. No fun for anyone. And if you don’t show up for a scheduled network meeting or interview with an employer? That’s plain disrespectful.

We understand that life happens and emergencies surface, all we ask is that you call us to let us know. Simple courtesy goes a long way in the business world!

All in all, career counseling is a profession full of challenges just like any other role. I hope you’ve enjoyed this behind the scenes peek.

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Erika is a career development professional with over 15 years of experience in both corporate and higher education settings. Her current role is Assistant Director of Career Education at a private university in Chicago, Illinois. She also works with individuals on strengths discovery, interviewing skills and networking. She can be reached at careerplayground (at) gmail.com

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