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How to Choose a Career Orientation Service?

To get to the point:
A guidance service is an offer that is made to you indicating the method that will be implemented to help you choose a career. It is therefore necessary to analyze the proposed method in detail to define the type of service it is.
All players name their service differently. This can lead you to believe that there are many different types of guidance services and can be a real headache for clients.
In fact, this is not the case, all these services have the same base and there are two main groups, those that are based on tests or questionnaires (that is 90% of the offer) and those that are based on the coaching method and completely personalized without tests, questionnaires or MCQs (the remaining 10%).
You may retort that there is a plethora of guidance coaching offers on the market, but the reality is that it is not really the coaching method that will be proposed to you, but simply tests, assessments and advice that have benefited from a marketing "rebadging" to make them more saleable.
However, these test-based guidance methods are not effective and guidance professionals know this. For many years, it has been known in the field, thanks to figures from the French education system, that these guidance methods do not work: 50% fail or stop in the first year of post-bac, 20% of which are identified as a bad guidance and 40% of the young people questioned 7 years after their entry into the sixth year (first year of post-bac) have undergone their guidance. I have my theories about why they continue to offer you harmful solutions, but that would require too much detail, so I'll leave you to imagine them.
This is truly a complex subject that requires research, analysis, justification, reasoning, and a series of arguments and examples about each of the methods, their origins, and their side effects to make sense. I hope you will not take my word for it! Therefore, I have chosen to keep this presentation as short as possible to fit the format of a website article by focusing on career guidance and career coaching. I develop the analysis of all these methods in depth in my book "Career Guidance or the art of not failing" available on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo and Google play at a ridiculously low price to ensure the circulation of the information to as many people as possible.
I can't explain in detail here why all guidance test methods should be avoided and why any service offering them to you should imply an automatic refusal. I apologize for this and thank you for your understanding.
You will find in this article specifically dedicated to the services offered:

   1.  A parallel between the quality of service of the big organizations and the new services they offer in school coaching (with the edifying video of a special correspondent showing that the people they offer are hired without qualifications or verification)
    2. 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 "speakers" 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.

It is enough to be simply factual to realize it, with the posted price of the proposed coachings, clearly, taking into account the effective remuneration of the "coach", all deductions made, only beginners or self-proclaimed coaches wishing to acquire experience and to make the hand will be interested. Therefore, it will be the same level of requirement in the recruitment of their "speakers" at the coaching level as at the tutoring level, which, as we already know, is unacceptable. This could be truly disastrous for the students using their services: to be influenced, to waste their time and to demotivate them.

To see the quality of their tutoring services, if you haven't already experienced it, you can watch the entire 40-minute report from France 2's "envoyé spécial" on January 22, 2009 (in French) :


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

As I mentioned in the introduction, the basis of 90% of the guidance service offer is based on tests or questionnaires. That said, here are the distinctions you can expect based on the names:

- The orientation test: A test on a computer that gives you a raw result. Eventually, a facilitator will give you the results.

- The orientation assessment: You take a test on a computer, the computer gives you a result, and then a counsellor gives you HIS analysis of the results and advises you on one or more paths according to what is supposed to correspond to you, taking into account your grades and possible tastes or aspirations.

- Career counseling: One or more interviews with a counselor who makes you take a test or questionnaires, takes into account your grades, your tastes and aspirations, then gives you advice on the jobs that correspond to you.

These distinctions are not set in stone, but overall that's about it.


The choice of career guidance:

As in the case of a career assessment, it is an orientation based on your grades, your personality and what you think you prefer without going into more detail, which allows them to tell you what you are supposed to be made for. I won't go into detail here about the problems related to an orientation based on grades, we read a lot of nonsense, especially among colleagues who try to justify why they take them into account, but I simply don't have the space in this article to offer my analysis, you'll find it in my book on orientation methods.

The first important point to know is that the first step will be to take a battery of tests or questionnaires.

The second point is that the assessment or guidance that will be carried out with you afterwards will not necessarily be done by a specialist, or even by an educational psychologist, as it should be.

Why do I say this? Let's go back to the question of invoicing and remuneration mentioned above, you can easily imagine that if your guidance service costs you about 50 euros per hour if you take out the administrative and management costs, the company's profit, taxes and social security contributions, there is less than 20 euros per hour left for the counsellor...

You will therefore find many institutions offering you "packages" that help you to evaluate your potential and your aptitudes to choose a job, thanks to diagnoses from so-called professionals or tests on the jobs that correspond best to you.

I will stop here on the question of personality, because all these orientation tests are in fact creations that have as a common basis the various personality tests used by HRDs to identify typical profiles of workers. Here again, I won't be able to unroll all the explanation and my reasoning as well as the different arguments allowing me to affirm that it is dangerous to take as a (sometimes unique) basis of definition of one's job, aspects of one's personality, that said I will rely on your common sense with an enlightening example!

Let's first ask ourselves what personality means. According to the Larousse (French Dictionnary), if you read my texts, you know that I often use it as a reference, personality is the "psychological individuality of a person as it manifests itself in his or her behaviors". It is therefore your character in a way, which is the fruit of your value system, your education, the sum of your experiences and the influence you have undergone, without this list being exhaustive.

Now ask yourself these questions and try to answer them:

Do you think it takes a special personality to be a butcher? In what way?

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

And we're not talking about an aptitude for an activity, a passion or any other predisposition, we're talking about personality.

You should now come to the conclusion, as I did, that if you don't have to take a test and that personality is not really to be taken into account, because it is not really of interest in specifying a profession that corresponds to what the student is looking for or to help in the choice of this profession, then what is left that allows the choice of a profession in the proposed service?

There is still the "advice".

This advice based on the experience or professionalism of the speaker. But the problem is that this advice is based on the few elements mentioned above, which are of no interest, and as it is commonly accepted that advice, in itself, is an influence, and that in orientation as elsewhere, but especially in orientation, one should try to avoid it at all costs, there is finally nothing interesting left in this type of practice...

One could even conclude that it is harmful.

Here are some sample questions you may have about these services:

- Will it help me make my choice? How and why?
- Is my need to know what I am good at based on my grades? Does my schoolwork represent who I am, my value and what I want?

I sometimes hear a specious argument that a student who is not good at math should be dismissed from studies where math is necessary because he or she will not have the level, ability, etc. And that, based on this principle, grades are to be taken into account in defining an orientation.

On the one hand, the question of ability is only valid for 10% of students who may have specific problems. On the other hand, if the student is motivated, he or she will be able to give himself or herself the means to succeed. Indeed, the brain being by nature lazy, why get tired when you don't know why? Then, it is without counting a very important element identified a long time ago in social psychology which is the pygmalion effect. The pygmalion effect is, as it is very well written in Wikipedia, "an improvement of a subject's performance, depending on the degree of belief in his success coming from an authority or his environment". If the teacher and the environment believe in him, support him and encourage him "sincerely", then this will have a direct effect on the student's performance. In short, this argument, to which I am responding here, does not take into account real motivation, interest, investment and the pygmalion effect.
I do not argue that these elements make the level achieved in the subjects necessary for the chosen orientation every time, but most of the time, especially when other conditions are met such as the social and relational environment of the student, among others.

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!

As you can see, it is a personal investment and an active approach that has nothing to do with a temporary desire or passion or with the type of academic results you have at a given moment during your school or student career.

Of course, it is not a perfect method and it has some flaws and difficulties. To mention only a few aspects that I detail more extensively and precisely in my book, it is necessary to know how to manage transference, to master the art of questioning, to avoid (for coaches trained in this technique) using NLP tools that influence clients, to make sure not to make value judgments on clients' choices and not to give advice, because here again, this can greatly influence them, especially at an age when they are particularly sensitive and lack discernment and critical thinking. Critical thinking" as the Americans say, and I invite you to look into this important question, which has no place in this article.

There is something really important that I realized recently that I did not insist enough on, even though I mentioned it above.

Contrary to other orientation methods, the coaching process will aim at developing autonomy towards the reflection on one's orientation but also towards the coach.

I have seen this again recently, a student came back to me by email:

"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 underscores this very important element in the contributions of career coaching: AUTONOMY

Sometimes, when one does not go deep enough into research, such as researching a profession and its training (during coaching or afterwards) one realizes afterwards that it does not (or no longer) totally correspond to one's priorities when one becomes aware of the concrete work activity. Or sometimes, one is so excited and euphoric to have "found" one's job at the time that one is not sufficiently lucid on the other elements of this job to be taken into account or on one's own priorities. Sometimes, it can also be the thinking or the priorities that change in a few weeks. There are several cases, but generally this happens when the student does not do their thinking and research 100% before making their choices.

In this example, we can see that the student's desires or priorities evolve, but the student is autonomous and takes on his or her own reflection, allowing him or her to reach HIS or her goal.

Having unsatisfactory results in a subject does not mean that with the will and the work motivated by the desire to reach a goal you have chosen, you are unable to do so. It just means that you have no particular motivation to work as you should, because you have no goal that requires you to put more effort into the work of that subject.

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...