A Crucial Question I’m Struggling With…


I was having a conversation with one of my colleague  bout how we deliver careers education out our institution and we came across a question I hope someone can help me with.

When we discuss curriculum we also spend a lot of our time discussing content, what we are delivering, or at least, I feel I do. What we spend less time talking about is what impact we want this content to have. This is the crux of my question;

“how do other careers professionals engage with what impact their work has and more importantly try and improve its impact?”

Let me try and sketch this out a bit more.

Education is about change. We educate because we want to change people. Careers education is related to changing the direction of someone’s career journey on some level and/ or changing their capacity to interact with their career journey. This is the distinction between career management outcomes, what happens, career management skills, what someone can do about it. It tends to be the case that someone’s career management skills inform their career management outcomes to some extent (in the overall context of other external factors).

Now if we use the idea of career management skills as a capacity or a literacy most people would say that career education is increasing these skills, skills such as self-awareness, opportunity awareness, decision making etc. Now the tougher question I have is…

“How do other careers professionals engage with what impact their work has on their clients career management skills?”

I would love to have other people’s input on this either through their own experience or through references to research, case studies, resources etc. Please do comment away bellow, this si a very genuine question and I would love to have people’s views.


3 thoughts on “A Crucial Question I’m Struggling With…

  1. Thank you for your blog. I just found it and it looks superb.

    I work as a careers education teacher / career counselor at the university of Helsinki. We are a group of 3 teachers/ career counselors that teachcareer planning courses that are part of the curriculum.

    We have been struggling with this same question for a while. How do you show that the career planning courses we teach have an impact?

    3 semesters ago we started using a self-evaluation filled in before and after the course by the students attending the course. The very first thing students do when attending a career course is grading themselves in four different parts: self-assessment, opportunity awareness, decision making and job hunting skills (the different part chosen according to the theoretical model we use). They also state the goals they have for the course. They go back to their evaluation the last time we meet in class. Then they evaluate themselves again and describe if the goals were met.

    The results have been more positive than we expected. According to the almost 1000 self-evaluations we have got back so far, students really are learning about career planning. The biggest gap according to students have been in opportunity awareness, and that is also a theme were they learnt the most.

    There are also some differences between different student groups. PhD have usually evaluated themselves lower than our bachelor and masters students in every part of the course in the beginning, but in the end of the course their self-evaluations are higher than other students’ evaluations. Students in some majors seem to have more difficulties describing what they have learnt while studying at our university – something we then deal with the teacher staff – while others have no clue what to do after the graduation.

    One more positive aspect have been the reflections about the individual goals. Often students are writing about a more positive perspective towards the future and how their efficacy beliefs were boosted during the course.

    I’d love to hear other experience.

  2. I like to keep what I call a Sunshine file or emails, cards, other communications in which clients have shared their successes with me. I also like to keep tabs on the hard numbers of how many of my clients have found or achieved their career goal, something related to their career goal, something other than their career goal or have been unsuccessful. Some of this tracking is done as an extension of the various positions I have been in and overall I try to keep a cumulative statistic on my own without identifiers so I can constantly assess my own performance in assisting those I work with.

  3. Important topic, Tom. I suggest it is important for practicing career counsellors to conduct or support field-based research that measures outcomes of service delivery. I’m happy to report that my project: Life-story writing for career change: is it effective? A Report on Research is now completed, was peer reviewed, and the results have been published in the Canadian Journal of Career Development at this link:
    Just click on the link ‘Read more…’ under the title of the paper to see the full report.


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