What My Online Jazz Course Taught Me About Career Counseling

Even if you do not like jazz, please keep reading. This analogy works for whatever genre of music or form of art that you do like.

I recently completed an online jazz appreciation course, and when I began I could only use layman’s terms to describe what I liked or disliked about a particular song. During the course the professor’s goal was for us to progress to the point where we could use jazz terminology to support our musical preferences. So, “I liked it because it was energetic and the band had a trumpet (my son plays the trumpet in his high school band)” became “I enjoy the combination of blues and bebop, as well as the trumpet player’s motivic development.”

What does that have to do with career counseling? Job seekers can usually describe in layman’s terms what they like or dislike about the jobs they have had. When counseling them, what if we help them to see how their preferences translate into workforce development terminology? Would that help them to understand their personal traits better, and would they then be more likely to make better career decisions?

Here is a before and after example to illustrate how this strategy would work.

Counselor: You scored very high in the Realistic interest area and your highest work values are Relationships and Working Conditions. Have you considered training to become a computer user support specialist?

Job Seeker: Huh?

Now let’s try an approach where the counselor helps the job seeker to understand their experience in terms of workforce development terminology.

Counselor: You told me that one of the things you enjoyed most about your last job was fixing the machines when they broke down. That confirms your high Realistic score on your interest profiler. A person who scores high in the Realistic interest area enjoys finding practical solutions to problems.

Job Seeker: Yes, that really sounds like what I like to do.

Counselor: Also, you didn’t like the competitive environment among your co-workers and wished that you could have had some customer contact. That matches well with one of your high scores on the work importance profiler, Relationships. Now there are a few occupations that allow you to fix things and still have some customer contact. One of them that is in demand, pays a reasonable wage, and offers some job security is computer user support specialists. You might call the person who does that job a help desk technician. Could you see yourself doing that?

Job Seeker: Well, I don’t know. How could I qualify for a job like that?

Of course, many of my readers could lead that discussion much better than I could. In the career to counselor ratio I am about 90% career and probably only 10% counselor. But I am hoping that I was able to present the concept in a way that makes sense.

I would be happy to hear your thoughts on this idea. And if you try it, please let me know how it works.

Image above from publicdomainpictures.net
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