Colleges and Universities
Many local colleges and universities have schools and departments that are community focused, and within them, there are career development programs of varying size and quality. For example, in New York City, there are two excellent programs - at New York University's School for Continuing and Professional Studies, and at The New School. I'll focus on NYU's program this time.
NYU's Center for Career, Education, and Life Planning (212 998-7060) has been in existence for many years and offers a wide range of low cost options. There is individual career counseling, including testing. In addition to the counseling, there is a wide range of courses including Career Directions, which is geared to the career changer, and a series of career-related workshops (Testing Yourself, Independent Contractors, Jobs Along the Information Highway, and Starting Your Own Business on a Shoestring are examples of these). Many of them meet for an entire Saturday, and some meet evenings for a few weeks. There are free events held on Fridays every semester ranging in subjects from "Developing a Resume" to "Job Search Tools for Job Changers". The Center also provides planning and advisement for GMAT and LSAT preparation. I have yet to find another program equal to its scope and quality, but we'll continue to search to find others, so that we can geographically cover Vault's readership.
This is probably the most personalized way to go. The issue here is how to find the "right" consultant, and that should always be through a reliable source.
A private career consultant usually will have experience in any combination of the following: human resources, psychology/counseling, outplacement consulting, and/or some other relevant corporate background.
A career consultant frequently will do some assessment with clients, if indicated (i.e., The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, The Campbell Interest and Skill Survey, etc.), or perhaps the Five O'Clock Club Seven Stories Exercise or the Forty Year Vision. Each of these instruments is designed to assist clients in determining a precise target.
If the target has been defined previously, then perhaps the client is seeking concrete advice on job search technique - resume building, interview technique, salary negotiation, networking strategies (always the hardest one, and the most requested), research, following up to networking meetings and interviews, letter writing, etc.
Frequently, career consulting is short term (4-6 sessions), but is decided upon between the consultant and the client at the beginning of the process.
Although we at Vault fervently hope that you're able to find significant assistance in your career development issues in our features, articles, and bulletin boards, I'd like to occasionally point out that there are many other means for obtaining specific kinds of help. This week, I'd like to focus on a couple of those and, in subsequent articles, point out several more.