Making the Shift to Online Career Coaching
June 29, 2020

Published by the Australian Careers Service.

By Karen Lomas 

Many of us have been forced to shift from long-utilised methods of in-person career coaching to new systems of delivery and service. We’ve all had to adapt as quickly as possible to school closures and social distancing while continuing to support our students and clients. Making the shift to online career coaching has been key. 


I have been utilising online platforms for quite some time; however, COVID-19 has meant a shift away from anything delivered face-to-face. Here is my personal reflection on this period of churn. 

The initial slow-down 

For me, COVID-19 lock-down policies resulted, for a short while, in an almost total suspension of work. In particular, revenue for March dived in comparison to revenue for March 2019. In addition to being bed-bound with illness for a five days, a project I was working on was suspended. 

Another issue was that families lost income, as some were either furloughed on reduced pay, or laid off. The JobSeeker and JobKeeper schemes had not yet come into play. I felt the need to offer some discounts and it felt good to be able to do this. Then I waited and things picked up. Sometimes there’s nothing else for it but to be patient.  

Changing my business model 

I went from running a career office that clients attended in person, to an all-online careers service. This shift meant marketing the new provision of career coaching via my website and on social media. This costs money because I have to pay for back end support on my website.

Once I mastered Zoom, I had to learn how to use Webex quickly, then keep on top of the deluge of information coming from Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre, Career Development Association of Australia, Careers Industry Council of Australia, Careers Education Association of Victoria, tertiary providers, my Careers Group and from virtual careers expo organisers. It was super intense for a while. 

I now use both of those Webex and Zoom platforms and lock my meetings, but do not take recordings. I did this upon the advice of CICA. In a discussion with my Careers Networking Group I realised that schools have different policies, so I was anxious about the fact that while school-based career practitioners had policies that protected them, I had to abide by a different set of rules. I have to rely on my handwritten notes and the interview summary that I share with my clients. For sure, I have insurance policies and the backing of my professional associations.  

In my private practice regarding counselling with children, I always obtained written permission from parents to counsel their child, whether it be online or in-person. If a child is happy for their parent to be present during their coaching session, I accommodate this. The preamble is a little longer with online counselling — the assurances around the session not being recorded, and that when I look away it’s because I’m taking notes ( not because I’m tickling the cat)! 

Challenges my clients are facing 

The language that I was hearing and reading from parents and students was challenging. Many admitted they weren’t coping, and there were parents who said their Year 12 child was thinking of dropping out of school. When asked how they were doing, clients were increasingly circling the word ‘anxious’. 

Some students and young adults do not wish to turn on their screen during sessions, therefore I cannot look for clues from their body language. Then again, there is the potential for the disinhibition effect — the potential benefit of distance, or the barrier created by the screen, and with respect to email and texting, the delay. Students and young adults are indeed divulging, so then it’s a case of listening actively and checking that they are, in fact okay.  

Challenges I’m facing 

Along with the above, there’s an increasing demand for services — and the fact that I don’t have any bells ringing to tell me that it’s lunchtime or time to knock off.  

With a new way of working, we have to protect ourselves from burn-out. I am indeed feeling tired and on one Friday, about a month ago, I was still at my desk at 7pm. That was not an easy day for me, as three students did not seem too good. I had to tell myself that something, just a smile, some words of encouragement will have helped them.  

An overall success 

Shifting to online career coaching has worked and this is gratifying. However, it has required a process of adjustment over which I have had very little control. When I set up my business, I was calling the shots. This year I, like all of us, have been forced to adjust my work in the face of what felt like what I might describe as ‘organised chaos’. It takes me back to a time early in my career when I was working in London and having to run a business despite IRA bomb scares and actual bombings. I recall my Assistant Manager saying on one such day, ‘Well, it’s character-building’. We had to laugh.

Karen  is a career coach specialising in early career exploration with school-aged students.  

Why Mid-Life Could be the Best Time to Change Careers in Canada
June 12, 2019

Record low unemployment, innovation, longer careers just some reasons middle-aged workers can find new paths. An article by Brandie Weikle is a senior writer for CBC News based in Toronto. 

While there isn’t widespread data available on career change and the ages at which it occurs, Statistics Canada does track the number of consecutive months Canadians have worked for their current employer.

Some of that data, analyzed by the Labour Market Information Council (LMIC) in Ottawa and provided to CBC News, shows that among workers 45 and older, average time on the job started to drop in 2017.

Though those numbers don’t differentiate between job changes and career shifts, the shorter tenures may indicate more career change — or at least the labour market conditions that help support it. Read more

Breaking into the Classroom: 5 Tips to Integrate Career Components into Student Coursework
October 2, 2018

The author of this article is Nicole Poff, MA, a Career Services Specialist and Online Associate Faculty member at Ashford University San Diego, California. As a Career Services Specialist, Nicole works collaboratively across the university to embed career service components into the classroomNicole Poff

At a recent conference, a fellow attendee complained: “Our students are so over-programmed with university initiatives that our department can’t compete for attention.”

Another attendee responded, “Well, you should consider yourself lucky – we have such a small department that our calendars are completely booked with student appointments, so we have no time to create programming.” Over the next hour, counsellors from across the country shared their career services dilemmas. One small complaint created a domino effect of career counsellors revealing their strongest pain points. Beyond just over-programming and a small department, some of the most common issues were: lack of student engagement, limited funds, low workshop attendance, unprepared students, and overzealous students who expect to become CEOs upon graduation.

Uncertain about how my peers would respond, I anxiously raised my hand and said: “We don’t have a huge budget; we have a pretty small team in comparison to our massive student and alumni population; our engagement is frequently subpar, but we have found that integrating career components into existing courses is working very well for us. In fact, we have successfully integrated career service components into a lot of our education courses, and we are seeing great success.” At that moment, I was met with both curiosity and resistance as other counsellors asked, “Would curriculum integration work for us? If so, how?” Read more

Facebook Wants to be the Place to find a Mentor
August 16, 2018

Last year, the social media giant dipped its toes in online mentorship. Now they are getting serious.

Facebook is gearing up to mine what it sees as a massive opportunity to engage its users by offering mentorship through its Groups channel.

“Last year, the team worked with a couple of nonprofits,” says Gabe Cohen, Facebook’s product manager for Mentorship. In November 2017, the social network announced the new tool as a pilot program, and now they are rolling it out in earnest.

This is not to be confused with the partnership between Facebook’s Workplace and Ten Thousand Coffees that also debuted a mentorship matching feature recently. The startup is using Facebook’s Workplace to integrate its services to its client companies looking to match mentees with mentors within the organizations.

The good news for Facebook is that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel. In fact, when they debuted Mentorship last year, each mentee and mentor was matched by a nonprofit partner organization to work through a step-by-step program. The programs were developed by the organizations, tailored to fit the mentees, and geared to work directly on the platform through private interactions between the pair.

The pilot began with iMentor (for education) and The International Rescue Committee (for crisis recovery). From the outset, Facebook was eyeing expansion into other areas like addiction recovery and career advancement, according to Cohen. And he’s quick to point out that as “privacy is very important to us” (Facebook’s recent and constant refrain in all public forums), each pair’s conversations are private.Other Groups have participated since the initial launch, like Mama Dragons, which Cohen describes as a support network for Mormon families with LGBTQ kids. “They’re having a profound faith and family crisis,” he explains, “and finding people going through that experience is really hard.”

Read more

Children in Poorer Countries Have Higher Career Aspirations Than UK
March 20, 2018

Young people in developing countries often have more aspirational career ambitions than boys in the UK, an international survey suggests.

While boys in the UK aimed to be footballers or YouTube stars, their counterparts in Uganda and Zambia wanted to be doctors or teachers.

The findings are from a survey of 20,000 children by the Education and Employers careers charity.

The results are to be presented to business leaders at Davos next week.

The study asked primary school children, aged seven to 11, in 20 countries to draw pictures of the jobs they wanted to have when they grew up.

Gender Roles

The careers charity said the results showed how much gender stereotypes were established from an early age.

Read more

Canada’s Push to Bridge the School-Work Gap
March 16, 2018

Work-integrated learning grows in popularity at universities across Canada –  an article by  University Affairs CanadaThe child of accountants, Vanessa Paulin-Savoie decided in high school that she didn’t want to follow in her parents’ footsteps. She loved reading and writing and did well in French, so she thought a translation degree at the Université de Moncton made sense.

Her parents weren’t so sure. They persuaded their daughter to apply to the university’s co-operative education program so that she could see what working in translation was really like. After her second year in the program, it took only one work placement for Ms. Paulin-Savoie to realize that translation “wasn’t for me.”

What she did love, though, was the marketing aspect of the work – writing communications materials in French and English for an Acadian heritage site near her home in Caraquet, New Brunswick. With her creative flair and an affinity for data, she found that marketing “uses all the things that I’m good at.” Now in her final year of a marketing degree, Ms. Paulin-Savoie is still in the co-op program.

Read more

Graduate Recruitment Trends for 2018
February 26, 2018

The following article is by Charlie Taylor is founder and CEO of student and graduate careers app Debut.

2017 stood out as a year dominated by technology – and this will undoubtedly continue into 2018 too. This year, however, advancements in recruitment technology and the adoption of new strategies with different priorities will forever change the relationship between the employer and candidate, as businesses evolve to meet the needs of tech-savvy candidates.

So what trends will dominate in 2018?

1. A focus on behaviours over qualifications: With more first-class graduates entering the recruitment market it’s increasingly difficult to identify high-calibre talent. The Institute of Student Employers has revealed that 17% of its members are using a strengths-only recruitment process in 2017/18, and this number is only set to rise.

Three-quarters of HR recruitment professionals are now using psychometric testing, and 78% agree that it is a ‘powerful tool’ for hiring. The growth in use of psychometric testing reflects a general trend that organisations are hiring more for potential and attitude, rather than factors such as university attended, subject, or degree classification.

2. Movement to mobile application processes with ATS integrations: In 2016 it was reported that 20% of Millennials are now mobile-only, and it’s likely this percentage is already much higher.

Read more

Is De-Retiring The Answer To Labour Shortages Post-Brexit?
February 16, 2018

This article by Chris Ball, a researcher at Newcastle University’s Centre for Research into the Older Workforce, was written for People Management

Attending my local NHS health centre to give a blood sample recently, I was intrigued that the phlebotomist was a woman in her late seventies. “They can’t get people to do this work anymore,” she explained, “and I have always enjoyed my job, so why shouldn’t I?”

Good for her, but it made me think. While the government has responded to the ageing workforce by dissuading people from retiring early and pushing up the state pension age, less thought has been given to the position of ‘reverse retirees’ – people who have de-retired, and come back into the workforce.  Read more

3 Signs You Are Stuck In Your Career
February 13, 2018

This two-minute article, first published by Seek (NZ) may be of interest to those looking for inspiration about their next career move.

One of the problems with being stuck in your career is sometimes you don’t realise it. When you do finally figure it out it can often be a demotivating experience. So, the trick is to identify the signs before it happens.

Here are three questions to ask yourself to see if you’re in need of a change:

  1. Do I enjoy the work? Just for a moment think about the work you’re doing on a daily basis. Go through each of your tasks and responsibilities and take note of how you feel about them. For example, if one of your values as a professional is that you want to be consistently challenged, are you working on anything that’s helping you to grow as an individual?
    Read more
Young People Priced Out of Internships
January 31, 2018

The Sutton Trust is urging employers to pay interns the National Minimum Wage, publicly advertise positions, and make recruitment processes fair HR Magazine reports.

Soaring living costs are pricing young people from less well-off backgrounds out of internships, according to research from the Sutton Trust.

Rising rents and inflation mean an unpaid internship now costs a single person living in London a minimum of £1,019 per month, according to the charity’s Internships – Unpaid, unadvertised, unfair report. The research highlighted that taking on a six-month, London-based internship in 2018 would cost someone £6,114.

The charity also calculated the cost of a six-month placement in Manchester, where lower rental costs mean it would be less expensive. However, it would still set an unpaid intern back a minimum of £4,965 (£827 a month). Read more