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5 Things to Remember Before Visiting a Career Counsellor as a Working Professional

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Published by Sreya Madanan on 26 April 2024

Are you a professional struggling with job dissatisfaction or uncertainty about your career path? Seek expert advice to find the right path for your journey.

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Picture this: Samantha had been working as a marketing manager for five years. While successful by many standards, she couldn't shake the feeling that something was missing. The passion she once had for her role had slowly vanished, and Sunday nights filled her with dread about the week ahead.

She wondered,
Is this just a temporary rut, or a sign I'm in the wrong career entirely?
How can I reignite my drive when the work itself doesn't energize me anymore?
Are my skills and interests better suited for a different path?

Samantha's situation is a common one for many working professionals across the globe. A study. by Oracle stated that over 75% of individuals feel stuck either personally or professionally during their tenure.

The realities of adulthood, financial obligations, and inertia can cause us to stay in roles that ultimately feel unfulfilling. That's where career counselling comes into the picture.

Let’s dive into what career counselling is, and the role it plays in a working professional’s life, followed by a list of important things to keep in mind before visiting a Career Counsellor. Read on!

The Role of Career Counselling in Your Work Life

Career counsellors – also known as career guides or career coach – are professionals trained to guide individuals in exploring their skills, interests, values, and personality traits. They then use this understanding to suggest well-suited career options and devise actionable plans for career development or transition.

For working professionals, consulting a career counsellor allows you to gain an outside perspective from an objective expert. They can help identify career paths you may have overlooked, highlight transferable skills, and devise strategies for professional growth, be it advancing in your current field or changing trajectories entirely.

Why Is Career Counselling Needed for Working Professionals?

While career counselling is widely seen as valuable for students planning their first careers, working professionals can benefit just as much from this type of guidance at different life stages.

  • You've outgrown your current role: Skills, interests and values can change substantially over time. A career that seemed energizing early on may feel draining or unrewarding years later as you've evolved as a person.
  • You're unfulfilled or burnt out: Perhaps you're successful in your field according to conventional metrics like salary or status. But on the inside, you may feel chronically stressed, underutilized or disconnected from a sense of meaning and purpose in your work.
  • You want to better align skills with passion: It's common for working professionals to discover new interests, rediscover old passions, or realize their skillset could be better applied in an entirely different domain. Career counselling illuminates these types of potential pivot points.
  • You need an expert third-party perspective: It can be difficult to gain clarity when you're deep in the trenches of your current career. An unbiased counsellor allows you to explore opportunities and concerns without the constraint of your existing role's lens.
  • You're re-entering the workforce: For working professionals who have taken time away from their careers, whether, for parenthood, other family obligations or personal reasons, counselling provides an invaluable way to understand how to best integrate former experience with current goals and market dynamics.

Signs You May Need to Visit a Career Counsellor

While career confusion and dissatisfaction can manifest in different ways, some telltale signs may indicate it's time to seek professional career counselling for working professional:

  • You Wake Up Dreading the Workday

    Ahead While some morning grogginess is normal, if you consistently experience severe dread, anxiety or hopelessness about going into the office, it could signify trouble below the surface.

  • You Feel Underutilized and Uninspired
    Signs of chronic underutilization at work include boredom, lack of creative or intellectual stimulation, and a sense that your talents aren't being fully leveraged.
  • You're Increasingly Stressed and Overwhelmed

    On the other hand, if the demands of your role consistently surpass your abilities to keep up, resulting in burnout, that's another red flag that you may be in the wrong professional situation.

  • Your Interests Have Shifted From Your Current Path

    Our curiosities, fascinations, and driving motivators can change throughout life in ways that render longtime careers unfulfilling — that’s when you know it’s time to explore other options.

  • You're Unclear on What's Next

    Lost opportunities, career stagnation and confusion about potential next career steps can leave talented professionals in a rut. Getting unstuck with counselling provides perspective.

5 Things to Remember Before Career Counselling as a Working Professional

  1. Reflect on Your Priorities, Values and Interests
  2. Before meeting with a career counsellor, take some dedicated time to deeply reflect on your current priorities, core values, interests and intrinsic motivators.

    • What activities most energize you?
    • What kinds of challenges excite you?
    • What impact do you hope to have through your work life?

    Getting clear on these driving forces provides important context for the counsellor. It ensures their guidance aligns with your evolving definition of personal and professional satisfaction.

    SMC Expert Tip:

    An effective exercise is to make lists capturing desirable workplace cultures, job duties, subject matter areas and so on. Likewise, identify environments or responsibilities you wish to avoid. The more tangible and specific you get about what truly inspires and motivates you at this stage of your professional journey, the more productive your counselling will be.

  3. Gather Insight From Your Ecosystem
  4. While it's paramount to anchor your career reflections in your own genuine desires, it can also be insightful to gather input from those who know you best — spouses/partners, close friends, family members, perhaps the connections fostered online, and even colleagues or mentors.

    Often those closest to us pick up on our transformed interests, restlessness or misalignments before we fully recognize them in ourselves. They may have unique perspectives about our strengths, talents and propensities that could shape ideal career paths. Use their thoughts as additional data points to contemplate, not conclusive verdicts.

    The goal is simply to crowdsource any potentially useful insights those closest to you may be able to contribute. Their added context informs your clarity as you prepare to explore options with your counsellor.

  5. Research Potential Career Paths and Qualifications
  6. To get the most out of your counselling sessions, it's wise to also do some preliminary research and reflection upfront about potential alternative career paths that could be a good fit.

    For example, if one of your key interests relates to environmental sustainability, spend some time looking into different types of Green Careers. Get acquainted with roles like corporate sustainability specialist, renewable energy consultant, environmental policy advisor and environmental engineer.

    Here’s how:

    • Take notes on the typical responsibilities, qualifications and growth trajectories for fields that resonate with you.
    • Identify any significant gaps in your current skillset or background that you may need to bridge through additional education, certifications or experiences.
    • Consider conducting informational interviews with professionals working in appealing career tracks —these can provide an insider's perspective on the day-to-day realities of different roles.

    Having this foundation of personal exploration will help you engage in more fruitful discussions with your counsellor. You can leverage their expert guidance to validate, expand upon or re-frame the potential paths you've already identified on your own.

  7. Catalog (And Flaunt) Your Professional Experience, Skills and Accomplishments
  8. To build out a holistic profile for career counselling, be prepared to succinctly yet comprehensively catalog all pertinent professional experiences, technical skills, transferable competencies and key accomplishments.

    Take the time to deliberately document roles, responsibilities, credentials, accolades and measurable achievements. This checklist of marketable attributes is invaluable for your counsellor as they work to understand how your background could apply to new opportunities.

    For optimal clarity, try to distill skills into concrete, quantifiable proficiencies rather than using vague descriptors wherever possible.

    SMC Expert Tip:

    Rather than simply saying you're "experienced in marketing," specify areas like "Increased email newsletter subscription rate by 42% through optimized digital campaigns."

    The more tangible examples and specifics you can provide, the easier it becomes for counsellors to appreciate the depth and breadth of your professional capabilities. This, in turn, helps you identify suitable career pivots that productively apply your prior experience in an exciting new context.

  9. Adapt an Open and a Learner’s Mindset
  10. Remember, a counsellor is not going to tell you what’s right or wrong. They are going to help you with a direction and make you capable of making a decision.

    Hence, it is imperative to maintain an open and exploratory mindset, free of preconceived notions about what opportunities will or won't work.

    Of course, it's natural to have some presumptions about career paths that could be viable based on your past experiences. However, the very reason you're seeking counselling is likely because your old patterns or assumptions aren't providing fulfillment anymore.

    By staying completely open and unattached to previous ideas, you allow yourself and your counsellor to thoroughly investigate all possibilities. This open-minded approach creates the mental and emotional space to uncover potentially surprising yet rewarding alternative career paths you may have never considered.

    Approach each session without any firm agendas about forcing a particular solution. Let the discussions and assessments guide you toward insights organically. Maintain a mindset of curiosity rather than stubbornly trying to bend your background into prescribed narratives.


Don't resign yourself to chronic career dissatisfaction as a working professional. Invest in self-discovery through career counselling to reignite fulfillment. Lay the groundwork by reflecting on motivators, researching paths, gathering input, and approaching with an open mindset.

Curious about how to get started? Take the first step today — visit SetMyCareer to be matched with an expert career counsellor who can help you envision a revitalized professional future aligned with your evolved interests and priorities.

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