Is Career Counseling Worth It?

Can talking to a career counselor really make a difference?

Utilizing my services can involve a substantial outlay, and potential clients should definitely engage in a cost/benefit analysis.  But how to estimate the cost, and even harder, the value of the benefit?

Your outlay will depend on a number of factors.  Most importantly, what are you looking to accomplish by meeting with me?  Are you primarily interested in completing fairly straightforward, concrete tasks, such as rewriting a resume or rehearsing for job interviews?  Does your goal have an emotional component to it (such as building self-confidence or motivation, or tackling procrastination?).

Does it require the sophisticated expertise necessary to advise you on handling a tricky political issue at work, or the decision about whether to embark on additional education? Or are you searching for the broader guidance involved in such issues as what careers to consider (whether new to the workplace or considering switching careers) or how to achieve a better work/life balance? If you’re seeking guidance that is fairly narrow in scope, you’ll be looking at anywhere from one to three sessions.  The bigger issues could involve anywhere from three or four sessions to a dozen or more.  Six is the median number of sessions that I have with my clients, with a median total cost of $1500.

If the issue(s) you’re dealing with is creating anxiety, depression, or other psychological symptoms that are impacting your job performance and/or relationships, and you have a PPO  health insurance plan that covers mental health, you may be able to be reimbursed for a substantial portion of your outlay since I am a licensed psychotherapist.

Now let’s look at the benefit you can expect to achieve.  This isn’t an easy calculation to make, but it is certainly worth taking a stab at.  Let me give you a prototypical example: A client comes to me who’s unsuccessfully applied for dozens of jobs over the past six months, and concludes that there’s something wrong with the approach being used.  If I am able to help that client land a job just one month faster than would be the case without my services, and the job pays $60,000 a year, the approximate before tax benefit would be $5000.  In the case of a $120,000 a year salary, the benefit would be $10,000. Clearly expending $1500 to realize a benefit of $5 or $10K makes sense.

Harder to quantify are the benefits of such goals as finding a more fulfilling career, restructuring your life to reduce the pressure you’re under, or saving a relationship that’s in trouble.  This is particularly true since there are no absolute guarantees of success – even the most skilled practitioner may occasionally run into a situation that, for one reason or another, doesn’t improve.  However, these situations are very rare in my practice.  The great majority of my clients are able to achieve their goals or at least make significant progress towards them in partnership with me.

If you’re not in the physical condition you’d like to be, it makes sense to hire a trainer: someone who knows what you need to do to reach your goals and will motivate and guide you through that process.  A business in trouble often hires a consultant to take an objective look at its situation and recommend solutions.  Whether you are looking to enhance your career prospects, solve a recurring pattern of negative behavior, learn how to write a great resume or conduct an outstanding interview, find a different career, cope better with the pressures of the job, or in general learning approaches and tools to enhance the professional part of your life, hiring an expert not only makes sense, but will most likely turn into one of the best investments you’ve ever made.