As recently as twenty or thirty years ago a great many of the people would retire from the jobs that they took early on in life. Long service awards were regularly given out for twenty, thirty and forty years of service. People were retiring on pensions that had accumulated over decades. Since the turn of the century this type of working pattern has declined. The reasons behind this are many, but many of them will have to do with self actualisation.
During their lifetime people currently in their forties will on average have changed job eleven times. This figure reflects changes in source of employment and not necessarily change of industry or employment type. Changes usually reflect the desire to improve standard of living and working conditions. Over the last two decades other factors have started to influence how people work and the choices they make about their working lives. Domestic commitments, social influence and the importance of work/life balance.
This age group will also reflect a thirty percent career change. These are the people that leave one career to start another completely unrelated line of work. Doctors may leave their career to become farmers and lawyers move on to become clergy. Admin clerks may decide to retrain and become an accountant.
Career changes often take place when a person feels unfulfilled in what they are doing. Even when the salary is comfortable, and the hours are acceptable, the person may feel that they simply want more from their lives. Stories abound about the businessmen and women that give everything up to become aid workers in a war zone. Although that is quite a radical life change and quite rare, it is a good illustration of how people will change their career paths to seek fulfilment. Career counselling helps people to decide where their priorities lie, what their needs are and how to create a safe and comfortable transition between career paths.
Career counsellors will help people to consider multiple aspects of their lives. Firstly, how a career change will affect their financial position. Many people feel ready for a career change in their forties and fifties because the mortgage is paid off and their financial commitments have changed. The reverse is also true. As we reach middle age we start to worry more about our pensions and standard of living in old age. It may mean that we need to move out of our comfort zone to earn more so that retirement is adequately provided for.
Some mid lifers will be seeking to reduce the stress and make time for family especially when they become grandparents. During the first twenty odd years of our working lives a large majority of us are supporting families, contributing to a higher education fund, and paying bills that provide for the wider family too. As the family size changes so do our priorities. For a lot of people, the opportunity for the gap year that they never had becomes a real prospect. Commitments can change too though. Suddenly a grandparent may find themselves having to unexpectedly raise a grandchild or become a carer for their partner.
Injuries at work or other health considerations may mean that a person can no longer work at the job that they were trained to do. Heart attacks, Arthritis and other lifelong conditions will often mean that a person can still work, but not in their current or most recent occupation. When life forces this upon someone, having a good career guidance counsellor really helps. Having to deal with losing a career as well as developing a new one will require some support and in these circumstances career counselling professionals are the best to provide guidance.
During our formative years and while we build on our working lives, we develop skills. These skills relate not only to our qualifications, but what some employers call soft skills too. How we relate to others in the workplace, management skills and cognitive skills are uniquely appropriate for particular careers. Good designers have an eye for things in everyday life that the rest of us don’t even notice. Creative people express themselves through, Art, Writing and Music in an almost magical way that the rest of us pay to experience. Personality traits will determine whether we are comfortable in a crowd or prefer to work quietly in our own space.
Often, we have skills and traits that we don’t recognise in ourselves and a good career counsellor will spot them through professional psychometric testing. These tests are particularly good when a person knows that they need a change, but are unsure which direction to move in.
There are several professional bodies that register professional career counsellors, many of whom are either psychotherapists or counsellors with specialist training. In the UK by contacting the council for Career development professionals you will be able to find an accredited counsellor. Online, reputable sources such as UKTherapyGuide will have listings that you can search to find the counsellor that is right for you.