The most common job-seeking system is to apply for vacant and/or advertised jobs. Because thousands of other people are using exactly the same system, and are applying for the same advertised jobs, the chances of success may be quite low, depending on the current job market. Even when people find jobs this way, those jobs can offer little promise for the future, and people can end up in jobs that are wrong for them. More likely, job-seekers will become frustrated and disillusioned after many rejections.

The reality of the labour market is that many job seekers are competing for too few desirable positions, which means that even the most determined job seeker might not gain a desirable position and may end up in a job well below his or her capacities, and in which he or she has little interest other than as a source of income.

A more thoughtful and planned approach to job seeking is to plan to establish and build a career. Rather than applying for every job, the career builder focuses his or her attention and energies on field of work, such as horticulture, or animal care, or sales. Focusing on one area   will encourage individuals to work on strengthening their skills and knowledge in that area to develop a sound understanding of what is required and what is happening in that area. Even when a person is looking for and will accept any job to meet their financial needs, having a career plan will increase their awareness of, and responsiveness to any opportunities that will support their long-term goals. In formulating that career plan, both client and careers counsellor should ask three questions:

What (what do I have to offer)?

Where (where do I want to end up)?

How (how do I get there)?

Career planning begins with deciding exactly what a person has to work with. This includes existing abilities, special skills, transferable skills (that can be applied in different areas. See lesson 6), talents, interests, experience and desire to learn. These are the basic blocks of a career, and will allow a person to identify a field of work in which they can thrive and achieve satisfaction.  The more the person knows what they want to do, the more energy and enthusiasm they will bring to their job-seeking and career building in that field.

The next step is to find where that person can best use their abilities, develop their interests, and find stimulation and satisfaction.  This involves identifying a field of work that calls for or will develop those skills and interests, a location or locations, (country, town, urban or rural etc), and the kind of working environment that person wants. At this stage, the client should be undertaking considerable research into possible careers, and the life coach should be prepared to support the client’s investigations in several ways, such as discussing possible sources of information, planning information-gathering interviews with employers or practitioners in that field, helping clients develop their interview and telephone skills, and helping them analyse the information to reach some conclusions.

During this stage, the individual will accumulate knowledge about career prospects in the chosen field and will develop an understanding of that is and is not realistically possible. The research and analysis of the information in collaboration with the life coach should help the client separate wishful thinking from possibility to formulate clear, realistic and precise goals. With those goals in mind, the individual is able to make better short term choices, such as finding a job right now, or entering a course of study, while working towards larger career objectives.

The third step in career planning is the determine how to get a job in the field that you have chosen. This is where a life coach must be creative in helping clients devise strategies for finding or creating desirable jobs. This is also the stage at which the client’s research into can be turned into action. For instance, the client who has identified key organisations in that field and even key personnel can focus on obtaining an interview, can use the contacts made previously to get an appointment, and can use his/her knowledge of an organisation’s goals and  vision to promote him or herself to that employer. Another aspect of this stage could be undertaking study to gain the requirements for work in that field (having previously learned, of course, exactly what course of study is desired by the employer).

To illustrate how these three steps might work, consider the case of a young woman interested in working with animals because she likes and has a ‘way’ with them. At the first stage, she might determine that she doesn’t like study and is thorough disgusted at the idea of watching a surgery. She does enjoy petting animals and being around them; she likes making things pretty; and she is a careful, attentive person with a fairly easy-going personality. So she eventually determines that she wants to work in the area of pet grooming. Checking around, she learns that most pet groomers are self-employed in either small salons or with mobile services. This suits her because she likes working in a small, friendly workplace, and she can work in any city, which she prefers. She  decides to take a pet grooming course while looking for any job with pets, even at a pet shop, with the long-term goal of setting up her own pet grooming business. She approaches the pet shops, grooming places and vets that she talked to during her earlier research, telling them she is available for any kind of work as she completes her course, and discussing with them how they might use her pet grooming service, thus building and reinforcing her professional network.


Realistic Expectations

It’s not difficult to get work; it’s just sometimes difficult to get the type of work you want.

Some people have very set ideas about the job they want;, others are really undecided. The first step in getting a job is the same for both types. In fact, anyone of any age, sex or level of skill needs to take the same first step:

The first step in getting a job is to develop a REALISTIC ATTITUDE! Realistic goals are based on a sound understanding of what constitutes a successful career for that individual, of one’s strengths and weakness and current marketplace trends, and of likely changes to which one must adapt. Because very few people begin in the same job they want to finish in, a career must be realistically seen as something that evolves or develops. You will probably not begin in an ideal position, but with careful planning, you can probably improve your position in your career as time goes by.


  • Don’t expect to start at the top;
  • Don’t expect to like everything about your job at first;
  • Be prepared to make the best of your situation and maintain a positive attitude;
  • Be prepared to accept any job in your field at first, if you cannot get your ideal job, or any job at all if you cannot get a job in your chosen field. If you are in employment, even though not in your chosen   field, you are developing your career further than you would be if unemployed (or not studying).

Course extract from Career Counselling course offered by Health Academy Australia