How careers advice provides a new start at any age

Finding a fulfilling career is a lifetime journey. Careers appointments empower people of every age to find their next step.

Did you know what you wanted to be aged 16?

If you can remember your early careers advice appointments, most likely this took place at school when you were around age 15 or 16. Some people may have found this appointment useful, and others won’t remember a thing about what was discussed.

The advice we receive at school is usually around our next steps after GCSEs. At this stage, only a small minority of young people know what they want to do, and understandably so. How can we know what might suit us without a real understanding of the working world?

Only the minority of people stay in the same career throughout their lifetime, with more than half (55%) of UK workers over 50 having had at least three careers (Co-op). Most people (59%) aged between 18 and 34 years expect to see a rise in portfolio careers (encompassing several different jobs) over the next 10 years (Sonovate).

As well as providing an income, a career should fulfil you and be suited to your skills, characteristics, and ambitions. This is often a lifelong journey with many twists and turns. The decisions you made at school may well have nothing to do with your future job roles.

What prevents people from changing career?

With so much evidence showing that most people do successfully change careers during their adult lives, what might hold people back? Unsurprisingly, confidence, age and skills gaps are the most common reasons people hold back from changing careers:

• The average UK worker believes it’s too late to change careers by the age of 45 because they can’t keep up with technology.
• 21% would like to retrain and start a new career, but worry they are “too old”.
• Almost 17% feel they lack the digital skills needed to take this step.

(Stats from Santander)

When you have only known a particular way of working, it can be daunting to consider how you might adapt to new circumstances. Many people dramatically underestimate themselves. This is exactly why adult careers advice appointments are so beneficial.

Working with a careers adviser can help individuals clarify their goals, as well as identify and address barriers to their progression. Talking to a trained professional can help them find the confidence to make the best decisions for them at that time.

Who might benefit from an adult careers appointment?

Anyone can benefit from an adult careers appointment. The process is useful for those feeling “stuck” in a role but unsure of what action to take. Perhaps you want to move company, or change jobs within your current organisation? Maybe you want the confidence to go for a promotion?

Sometimes it helps to take a step back and think about where you are now, and where you might want to be in the next few months, 5 years, 10 years, or even 20 years. An appointment with a careers adviser gives you an outside perspective from someone with the knowledge and understanding to discuss your ideas and suggest potential opportunities.

What exactly are adult careers advice appointments?

Adult careers appointments are simply a structured conversation between two people, the careers adviser, and the client. They generally last between 30 minutes to an hour, but this can vary depending on the client’s needs.

Timings are usually discussed at the beginning of the session and the client’s expectations are established. The specifics of each appointment can vary enormously and are completely led by the client’s needs and what they want to accomplish.

How is a careers appointment structured?

An appointment begins with introductions and a brief discussion about confidentiality. It’s important the client understands the boundaries of the appointment and what to expect. The adviser asks the client what they would hope to gain from the session and how they want to feel at the end of it.

The adviser explores what information the client needs. Is the client looking to achieve more clarity on some ideas they have? Or are they simply hoping to feel a certain way at the end of it? Perhaps the client wants to gain confidence, motivation and clarity with respect to their career goals?

Is a careers appointment more useful than online research?

Websites are a fantastic resource for finding out information. With a search engine like Google, you can simply type a question in and within milliseconds, you’re given thousands of resources to plough through. But how do you know if you’re asking the right questions? A careers adviser can help you to know which questions you might want to ask, as well as which websites you can trust for the most up to date information, facts and figures.

An internet search will never ask you the question “why do you want the answer to that question?” or “where did that question come from?”. Asking these additional questions can unlock a whole new discussion around what is motivating the client, and what their end goal is (if they have one!).

Case study: A first taste of work for a 34-year-old mum of 3 as told by a C+K Careers Adviser:

I supported a 34-year-old mum of 3 who was making her first steps into the workplace. She had got as far as A levels in school but didn’t go to university as planned when she got pregnant with her first child. She came to see me to see what kinds of jobs she could do.

The client felt that being a stay-at-home mum for 16 years had left her practically unemployable, but she really felt that now her children were older, she wanted to start working in order to “feel useful” again, as she put it.

As we talked, it became apparent that before the client had her children, she had really wanted to be a midwife, and had planned to go to university to train. She felt it was far too late for her now, and that she was “too old” to go back to school and become a midwife.

I helped her reframe her understanding of how university worked. I explained it was common for older people to go back into education. I also helped her to clarify her skill set and to look at her time at home in terms of the skills she had acquired (time management, empathy, patience, flexibility, ability to perform under pressure), and how these are all valued in the workplace. We also discussed how she could potentially be working in some capacity until she was in her 60s, which gave her a good 30 years to build a whole new career in the health sector.

She left the appointment feeling motivated and able to see her future in a new light. She told me she didn’t realise she could still achieve her dream and was going to start looking at courses and finding out more information about fees and bursaries that she might be entitled to. I suggested she should start with the Lifelong Learning centre at Leeds University as they had specialist advisers who worked with mature students returning to education. They would have all the latest information on fees, loans, and bursaries so that my client could make an informed decision going forward.

Are you struggling with your current situation and anxious about the next steps?

It’s a really good idea to take a step back and try and assess the current situation in an objective way. There could be all kinds of reasons why someone might be struggling in their career – perhaps the job isn’t the problem, but their current environment – maybe a sideways move would help.

Or it could be that, for whatever reason, they have followed a path that just doesn’t fit them and now they’re struggling with the long-term implications of that. Perhaps they were encouraged to pursue a “safe” career when they were younger, but they’ve always wanted to do something completely different.

Talking to a careers adviser can help unpick these feelings of discomfort. We can help the client to identify any issues and barriers, support them in clarifying their plans, and then give them the tools to move forward in the best possible way for them.

Are you an adult looking for careers support?

You can our access support by calling 01484 242000 and asking for the adult team. You can email worksbetter@ckcareers.org.uk or visit our Huddersfield centre between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Friday.

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