Becoming a Career Development Professional – Part 2

This is a continuation of the Becoming a Career Development Professional blog. Read part 1 here.

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Where Do CDPs Work?

CDPs work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Government and/or government-funded organizations serving the unemployed, precariously employed, and/or members of identified, marginalized groups (e.g., newcomers to Canada, Indigenous Peoples, at-risk youth)
  • Universities, colleges, and/or high schools supporting current students and alumni
  • Private organizations providing information, advice, and assistance for people who want to change jobs or develop new skills (e.g., a recruitment agency)
  • Training providers offering courses to adults who need new skills in order to get a job or advance in their current position (e.g., a training provider for nurses)
  • Charities, non-profit, or volunteer organizations serving underrepresented groups

What Skills Are Necessary to be a CDP?

To do their job effectively, it is vital that Career Development Professionals possess certain skills, including:

  1. Strong Communication Skills: CDPs work with people from all walks of life and must be able to communicate well with these individuals in person, over the phone, through email, and in virtual settings. Beyond individual clients, CDPs need to communicate with employers and educators, as well as funders and policy makers in some circumstances. CDPs need to be sensitive to the needs of each of these audiences, tailoring their approach as necessary. 
  2. Good Interpersonal (People) Skills: CDPs often support individuals in the midst of major life changes, whether those were planned (e.g., graduating from college) or unplanned (e.g., being fired from a job). They may be interacting with individuals with complex needs within dynamic (perhaps volatile) situations. Being able to offer understanding and empathy within a judgment-free environment is important in establishing trust and building rapport. With those essentials established, the CDP can move forward supporting the identification of goals and implementation of action plans to achieve those goals.
  3. Excellent Listening Skills: CDPs demonstrate their listening through both verbal (e.g., “okay”) and non-verbal cues (e.g., posture, head nodding, eye contact). These skills support not only the relationship-building component of the practitioner-client relationship, but also ensure needs are assessed accurately and reliably. CDPs may use probing or clarifying questions to confirm their understanding. 
  4. Top Teamwork Skills: CDPs are often working in collaboration with a larger team or network of service providers to support individuals. This means CDPs need to coordinate their work with others from within the organization who play different roles (e.g., job developers, resource room coordinators, workshop facilitators) and those outside the organization involved in their client’s action plan (e.g., student advisors, employers). 
  5. Patience: Given the lifelong, ongoing nature of the career development process, CDPs need to be patient with their clients. Unexpected setbacks, challenges, or barriers might mean considering an alternative path forward or revising the client’s action plan. This can be both frustrating and disappointing; CDPs provide assistance in a calm and supportive way through difficult times and/or changing circumstances.
  6. Self-Awareness: CDPs need to be aware of how their own feelings, personal experiences, and biases may impact the way they understand and work with clients. Engaging in thoughtful and ongoing self-reflection can help surface these aspects.
  7. Awareness of Diversity: CDPs operate from the understanding that an individual’s cultural identities interact and shape the way they understand, connect with, and experience the world. Cultural identities could include race, nationality, socio-economic status, and gender; however, this also extends to level of ability, history of trauma, educational background, and much more. CDPs should be humble, curious, and avoid making generalizations about how clients might identify and what impact that has had on their career.  
  8. Flexibility: CDPs need to be adaptable in their approach when working with clients as they will have unique circumstances, contexts, desires, and goals. Being able to adjust and offer a tailored, client-centred approach will ensure services are tied to a client’s needs.

Read Part 3 Here.