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How to Choose a Career Orientation Service?

To get to the point:
A guidance service is an offer that indicates the method that will be used to help you choose a career. We therefore need to analyze the proposed method in detail to define the type of service in question.
All players name their services differently. This can lead you to believe that there are many different types of guidance service, and can be a real headache for customers.
In fact, this is not the case at all: all these services have the same basis, and there are two main groups: those based on tests or questionnaires (around 90% of the offer) and those based on the coaching method and completely personalized, without tests, questionnaires or MCQs (the remaining 10%).
You're going to tell me that there's a plethora of guidance coaching offers on the market, but the reality is that you're not really being offered coaching, but simply renamed "test, assessment and advice".
Yet these test-based guidance methods are not effective, and guidance professionals know it. For many years, it has been known to all those involved, thanks to figures from the French education system, that these guidance methods don't work: 50% fail or stop in the first year post-bac, of which 20% are identified as a bad orientation, and 40% of young people surveyed 7 years after entering sixth form (i.e. surveyed after their first year post-bac) had suffered from their orientation.

This is truly a complex subject, requiring research, analysis, justification, reasoning and the presentation of a series of arguments and examples on each of the methods, their origins and undesirable effects, in order to make sense of it all. Consequently, I have chosen to keep this presentation as short as possible to fit the format of a website article, concentrating on guidance counseling and guidance coaching. I develop the analysis of all these methods in depth in my pamphlet "L'orientation aujourd'hui ou l'art de ne pas se planter" available on Amazon, Google play.
In this article, which is specifically dedicated to specified services, you'll find..:

  • A parallel between the quality of service usually provided by large organizations and the new services they offer in school coaching (with the edifying video of envoyé spécial showing that the people they offer are hired without qualifications or checks).
  • A comparison between guidance counseling and guidance coaching

What about the development of academic coaching services within large tutoring organizations?

I'll start by mentioning this problem, because they are in a dominant position in the market due to their brand awareness, their search engine positioning work and their marketing power. If they were to offer unequivocal quality services to the public, this would not be a fundamental problem. Today, many people, such as former teachers, principals, students, tutors... and of course tutoring companies, who, despite the quality of the services they provide, have a large clientele, offer their "coaching" services to the public. However, these "consultants" have no professional coaching training, diploma or certification, clearly mentioned and it is impossible for the client to make the necessary "check list" when choosing a coach. You rarely have access to enough information on the profile of these "speakers" nor on the exact nature of the service they offer.

What's more, you rarely have access to enough information on the profile of these "consultants" or on the exact nature of the service they offer.

All you have to do is look at the facts, and you'll see that, given the price of the coaching offered, and the effective remuneration of the "coach", only beginners or less serious coaches looking to gain experience and learn their trade will be interested. And they won't be serious, because they'll have to comply with a prescribed two- or three-hour coaching session, which has to be carried out in a very specific way, whereas coaching is a personalized method of support. As a result, we're talking about the same level of requirement in the recruitment of their "interveners" at coaching level as at tutoring level, which, as we already know, is unacceptable. This could be truly disastrous for the students who use their services: being influenced, wasting their time and demotivating them.


Guidance counselling or coaching to define one's academic and professional orientation and to choose a career?

As I mentioned in my introduction, 90% of guidance services are based on tests or questionnaires. Having said that, here are the distinctions you can expect to see depending on the designation, to give you a quick reminder of the situation:

- Guidance test: A computer-based test that gives you a result, usually in terms of a career path.

- Guidance assessment: You take a test on a computer, then a counsellor presents you with his or her analysis or simply gives you the results, and suggests one or more paths based on what's supposed to suit you, with some justification.

- Career guidance: One or more interviews with a guidance counsellor, who will generally administer a test or questionnaires, take into account your grades, tastes and aspirations, and then give you advice on the career paths that are right for you, sometimes professions that are still generally of the "sales" type.

These distinctions aren't set in stone, but on the whole that's about it.

The choice of career guidance:

As in the case of a career guidance assessment, it's an orientation based on your grades, your personality and what you think you'd prefer, without going any further, which allows them to tell you what you're supposed to be made for. I won't go into detail here about the problems associated with a grade-based orientation - there's a lot of nonsense to be read, especially among fellow students who try to justify why they take them into account - but I simply don't have the space in this article to offer a few elements of analysis.

In short, the first step is to take one or more tests or questionnaires.

Having unsatisfactory results in a class doesn't mean that, with willpower and hard work motivated by the desire to achieve a goal you've chosen, you're incapable of doing so. It just means that you have no particular motivation to work as hard as you should, because you don't have a goal that requires you to invest more effort in working on that subject.

The assessment or guidance you receive will not necessarily be carried out by a specialist, or even an educational psychologist, as it should be.

Guidance tests are in fact creations whose common basis is the various work personality tests used by HR departments to identify typical worker profiles. I won't go into all the explanations and arguments, but it's dangerous to use aspects of one's personality as the (sometimes sole) basis for defining one's profession. That said, I'll leave it to your common sense to give us an enlightening example!

First, let's look at the definition of personality. According to the Larousse dictionary, personality is the "psychological individuality of a person as manifested in his or her behavior". So, in a way, it's your character, the fruit of your value system, your education, the sum of your experiences and so on.

Now ask yourself these questions and try to answer them:

Do you think it takes a particular personality to be a butcher? Which one and why?

Do you think it takes a particular personality to be a cab driver? A doctor? etc.

And we're not talking here about an appetite for an activity, a passion or any kind of predisposition, we're talking about personality.

By now, you should have come to the same conclusion as I did, that if you don't need to take a test, and if your personality isn't really worth taking into account, because it's of no interest in specifying a job that corresponds to what the student is looking for, or just in helping to choose that job, then what's left that's of interest in choosing a job in the service offered, which is based on a personality test?

What's left is "advice".

Advice based on the experience or professionalism of the consultant. But the problem is that this advice is based on the few aforementioned elements which are of no interest, and as it is commonly accepted that advice, in itself, is an influence, and that in guidance it is preferable to avoid it, there is ultimately little of interest left in this type of support, in my opinion...

One might even conclude that it's harmful.

Here's an example of the questions you can ask yourself about these services:

- Will it help me make my choice? How and why?
- Do I need to know what I'm cut out for, based on my grades or my personality? Does my school work represent who I am, what I value and what I want?

I sometimes hear the specious argument that a student who isn't good at math should be excluded from studies where math is necessary, because he or she won't have the level, the abilities, etc. And that, based on this principle, grades should be taken into account when defining an orientation. And that, based on this principle, grades are to be taken into account when defining an orientation.

On the one hand, the question of ability only applies to a small proportion of students who may have specific problems. On the other hand, if students are motivated, they will be able to give themselves the means to succeed. After all, why bother when you don't know why? Then there's the pygmalion effect, a very important element identified long ago in social psychology. The pygmalion effect is, as Wikipedia neatly puts it, "an improvement in a subject's performance, depending on the degree of belief in his success from an authority or his environment". If the teacher and those around him believe in him, support him and encourage him "sincerely", then this will have a direct effect on the student's performance. In short, this specious argument, to which I'm responding here, fails to take into account real motivation, interest, investment and the pygmalion effect, at the very least.

The choice of career coaching :

If your goal is to be helped to think about and choose YOUR career, then you need to turn to other types of personalized, truly individualized services, such as the type of career coaching I offer. On the other hand, this requires more reflection and personal investment.

In coaching too, there are many offers and you will have to dissect in detail what exactly is proposed to you to clearly define if it is indeed coaching.

I start from a simple principle, you have all the elements within you to find your own path, you just need someone who will take the time to help you ask yourself the right questions to make your choice emerge. Maybe you just need to be fully aware of the elements that will make you choose this profession and not that one?

Today's society is looking for ultra-specialists in their field. To become a specialist, you have to like it, you have to want it and you have to enjoy your work. And in moments of doubt during a career, it is important to be able to remember why you chose this profession. Remember that only those who make choices make mistakes, but those who let themselves be carried along by the different advice also make mistakes. Since coaching is based on your resources, on what you like or want, on your history at a specific moment in your life, a choice made at one time may not be appropriate after a while. If you make a mistake or have already made a mistake, you can benefit from it, double courses are more and more appreciated, and career reorientations midway through your professional life are more and more common. Today, there are many possibilities and you do not necessarily do the same job all your life, but the homogeneity of your career path remains a sure value, especially in France. Coaching aims to develop your autonomy in your thinking, so that you will be able to make new and relevant choices.

Here is an example of the questions that can be asked when choosing career coaching:

- Do I want to be the main actor in the reflection on my choice of orientation?
- Do I want to work on my introspection, reflection and projection in order to make my career choice?
- Am I motivated, willing and determined to take action?
- Am I capable of succeeding in whatever I decide to do if I know it is what I want to do and why?

If you think that with hard work and desire you can achieve the goals you have set for yourself according to the choices you have deeply thought about, that you are motivated and that you want to choose a profession in which you will flourish, then coaching is your solution!

It's a personal investment and an active approach that has nothing to do with a desire or passion that may be temporary, and nothing to do with the kind of academic results you've achieved at any given time during your school or student career.

Of course, it's not a perfect method, and it has certain flaws and difficulties. To mention just a few aspects, which I detail in greater detail in my book, you need to know how to manage the transfer, master the art of questioning, make sure you don't make value judgments about your customers' choices and don't give advice, as this too can greatly influence them, especially at an age when they are particularly sensitive and lack discernment and critical thinking skills.

There's something really essential here, and I realized I wasn't stressing it enough.

Unlike other guidance methods, the coaching process will aim to develop autonomy with regard to thinking about one's orientation, but also with regard to the coach.

"Where we left off, I said I wanted to work in human resources. However, when I researched the corresponding training courses, I realized that this is not at all what interests me.

So I came back to communication and realized that the digital and network aspect of communication makes me vibrate. It's a fast developing and very versatile sector, it allows me to integrate an event or cryptocurrency company.
I wanted to thank you for the help you gave me. We may not have come to the right conclusion together, but you taught me to create a personal reflection and to think about myself. A skill that now serves me on a daily basis."

This underlines a very important element in the benefits of career coaching: autonomy.

Sometimes, if you don't go deeply enough into researching a career and its training (either during coaching or afterwards), you realize afterwards that it doesn't (or no longer) fully correspond to your priorities, when you become aware of the actual work activity or subjects you'll have to take. Sometimes, too, you're so excited and euphoric to have "found" your trade at the time that you're not sufficiently clear about the other elements of this trade to be taken into account, or about your own priorities. Sometimes, it can also be your own thinking or priorities that change in the space of a few weeks. There are several possible scenarios, but generally it happens when the student doesn't do 100% of his or her own thinking and research before making a choice.

In this example, we can clearly see that desires or priorities change, but the student is autonomous and resumes his or her thinking on his or her own, enabling him or her to reach HIS or her goal.

You are not only choosing a profession but a life and especially the way of life that goes with it, that is why it is important to invest in a process of projection. Any decision must be nourished by a process of reflection and introspection which can take time. Don't choose a career in a hurry from a CIO catalog or by taking an orientation test, because the impact on your life will not be felt in the short term, but in the medium or long term.

When you choose a career, you choose a life...

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