Employment counseling consists of one or more personal meetings at which the goal is to help the participant find, maintain, and advance in a job that matches their skills among other considerations. The main purpose is to reinforce the participant’s abilities that are relevant to career development. Counseling helps the participant examine the motives behind their choices and decisions, identify their strengths and weaknesses, map existing opportunities, identify and define difficulties in their immediate environment, both short and long term, identify sources of personal assistance, and suggest tools to solve problems and ways of dealing with conflicts. The process includes building a personal short term and long term employment plan.
The one-on-one meeting has a number of elements:
- Opening and introduction
- Raising a topic
- Examination and investigation
- Focusing on an issue for training
- Expanding the possibilities of action
- Exercise, knowledge, tool
- Conclusions, insights
- Getting started
Note: an integral part of the meeting is clarification of motivation, taking responsibility, and reinforcing belief in ability, throughout the meeting.
This structure is repeated at every meeting, and may include dealing with other topics or the same topic until the participant’s abilities and capacity for employment reach a high standard and their employment goal is reached.
- Assisting the counselor in constructing a coaching process that will enable them to examine the short term and long term outcomes.
- Assisting the participant to broaden their employment options, to strengthen their abilities, to look into themselves and improve their employability.
Recommended structure of the one-on-one meeting:
- Opening: ask how the participant is feeling, to create trust and a relaxed atmosphere: “How are you?” “How was your week?”, and so on.
- Raising a topic: each meeting must have a clearly defined purpose, which can be determined in two ways:
o Defined in advance: - decided by the counselor based on the previous meeting, according to the participant’s stage in the program; for example, formulating a vision, investigating a job, etc. Purposes of this type are characteristic of the early stages in the process.
o Defined during the meeting: decided by the participant or the counselor from the topics that the participant brings to the meeting. Purposes of this type are particularly characteristic of meetings during the implementation stage. Although the counselor does advance planning, the participant arrives with significant issues that they wish to refer to. Examples of questions that help to focus the purpose: “What would you like to take away from today’s conversation?” “Out of everything we’ve brought up so far, what is the most important for you to discuss at this session?”
- Examination and Investigation - asking questions. The role of examination is to go deeper into a topic, study it and ask clarification questions. At this stage, the counselor will help the participant improve their ability to examine their actions from the outside.
- Focus on an issue for training – the investigation process can help to provide focus on an issue for training.
- Expanding the possibilities of action – at this stage, the aim is to create a broad range of possible courses of action, in order to build up the participant’s personal and occupational competency and to strengthen their proactiveness. When meeting with the employment counselor, the participant will bring up various options, which the counselor can then build upon. From among all these possibilities, the counselor will ask the participant their opinion on the best way to proceed. The counselor will help the participant weigh the costs and benefits of their various options in order to help them choose the best path.
- Exercises, knowledge, tool – we will offer the participant an exercise, relevant knowledge, or tools to help them gain necessary skills. The counselor may help the participant gain experience by carrying out a simulation, or offering other pieces of knowledge and advice. It is most important that the array of materials offered are appropriate for the participant's chosen course of action. For example, if they choose to immediately seek temporary work, the participant will be given the appropriate knowledge and opportunities to use knowledge and to practice methods of finding a job.
- Conclusions, insights – it is important to ensure that the session suits the participant’s needs. Therefore, after each conversation, the employment counselor asks the participate to pinpoint key insights from the talk in order to reinforce the assimilation of ideas that have arisen. The counselor will also ask the participant about their feelings, conclusions, insights or questions from the meeting. The purpose of the employment program is to change reality. Therefore, the goal is not to have the employment counselor talking to the participant throughout the whole meeting, rather it is important to have the participant actively engaging in the conversation and providing feedback.
- Getting started – This is the practical stage. Based on our summary with the participant, together we will choose a course of action that will help the participant to achieve their goal so that they can practice at home before the next meeting. The participant must leave with a specific task, or alternatively with a work plan, as required. It is preferable if the participant chooses the course of action, aided by questions from the employment counselor, but sometimes the counselor has to prompt the participant and define the tasks. In accordance with the diamond structure, we broaden the possibilities, and then we begin to limit them and choose one course of action.
- Clarification of motivation, taking responsibility, and reinforcing belief in ability - throughout the meeting
- Regular times: At the start of the process it is preferable to set a fixed time (day and time) for the meetings between counselor and participant and to discuss the estimated duration of the process – one, two or more meetings during a defined period, each meeting lasting 45-60 minutes. If necessary, the conversation can take place by telephone.
- Keeping time: Each meeting has a task, and the counselor is responsible for managing the time. It is often hard to conclude the meeting. The time framework must be explained to the participant in advance, stating that the meeting will involve discussion and working together on a specific task, so it is better not to raise new topics during the meeting.
- Documenting the meeting: It is possible that many things will come up at the meeting that the counselor will wish to document, although this has a price: eye contact is affected, and it may arouse anxiety in the participant. Therefore it is best to just make short notes during the meeting. The participant can be allowed to read what is written – so don’t write things they should not see. In some cases it is possible to ask the participant to write their own summary of the meeting.