Selection criteria can give you a bit of a guide but word of mouth will tell you a lot more. You need to talk to counseling professionals in similar organizations to find out if they know anyone who has worked at your target organization. It is also important to discover the primary approach of the organization to its clients. If this approach significantly differs from your own, you will probably experience a lot of job related stress. You can also find information on an organization by talking directly to a contact within the organization; however, you are not likely to get complete honesty regarding work culture and management if there’s a problem.
This way of finding a counseling job may seem like a lot of hard work but it’s worth it. Most types of counselors face high levels of stress in their jobs by the very nature of what they are helping their clients through. So it’s important not to add to this stress by being in a work environment that is a poor fit for your personality, values and counseling approach.
When you do this sort of homework and narrow down potential employers to a list of compatible ones, you will also be in an excellent position to sell yourself to them. You will have an insight into their organizations that most applicants will not have and you will be able to explain why you are the best person for the job.
It goes without saying you will need to have accredited qualifications and a state license to work as a counselor. Some positions will allow you to work with a diploma in counseling or an associate’s degree. However, most counseling positions require a Bachelor’s degree in the specified area and many are even asking for a Master’s degree. Many counseling jobs require a degree in social work, others require a degree in psychology, rehabilitation, or counseling itself. By reading through the various selection criteria for advertised positions you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for.
Whether you are seeking a general counselor position or are looking for rehabilitation counseling employment, college counseling employment, a job in guidance counseling, grief counseling, family and relationship counseling, sexual abuse counseling, or substance abuse counseling to name just a few, it is a good idea to get as much advice as you can. College counselors can be an excellent source of information as can your teachers if you are still studying. Try to obtain internships early on in your college studies. Interning can give you insight into different work environments as well as what is involved in different types of counseling. If you have already chosen a counseling specialty, use your internships to give you a taste of different organizational cultures and different client bases. This will help you make an informed decision when you are ready to move into a full time position.
Newspaper employment ads, online job sites, and employer websites provide the best avenues for finding counseling jobs. Make sure your resume and application letter targets the selection criteria of a particular position and identifies your suitability for a particular role and organization. Your goal is to obtain an interview.
Once you get an interview use it to shine. Talk about your goals and approach to counseling and how these match those of the organization. Show transcripts, references and any evidence of achievements that are relevant to the role. Your abilities to be resilient, persistent and to overcome challenges are all relevant.
If you take the time to become self aware and knowledgeable about potential employers, you will not only be able to land a counseling job, you will be able to get a great counseling job in which you can be fulfilled and successful. It’s your life; how do you want to live it?