Helping Our Clients Develop Their Careers During Times of Change

By Carolyn Wilson

As career development practitioners, our mission is to support others in developing satisfying, engaging careers in a complex and changing workforce. Understanding the impact of change on the employees we work with is a continual quest in our practice. Generally, when we assess individuals, we tend to focus on understanding their internal reality through assessment of their motivations, interests, values and abilities, while also seeking to understand the importance of cultural background, personality and temperament. However, external factors often receive much less attention although such factors can greatly influence career decisions.

Consider the wide range of external factors that employees are faced with at the moment:

Every one of these events can cause stress to workers. And as employees seek ways to cope, adjust, and get work done that provides value to their organizations, career development practitioners can help employees move forward in their careers. To do this, we need to make certain we consider the impact of such external events on our clients when we provide counseling and coaching to them.

When working with career development clients during uncertain times, career development practitioners can encourage internal locus-of- control activities. These activities can increase employees' readiness for their next role while improving their performance in their current role. Here are three quick tips you can use in your conversations with your clients who are working to develop during times of change. Suggest they consider these attitudes and activities.

1. Establish a Dynamic Professional Identity.

2. Set Realistic Stretch Goals.

3. Arrange Support for Continuous Development.

These suggestions offer ideas on different ways you can facilitate the personal growth and professional development of those employees you coach and counsel during times of uncertainty. Remember that some individuals may be more sensitive to external factors and so consider what questions you may want to ask these employees to better understand the impact of change on them and on their work.


 Carolyn Wilson is a licensed psychologist who provides executive assessment and feedback services in the San Francisco Bay area. She holds a Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Counseling Psychology, and has provided career assessment and development services within university counseling centers and human resource consulting firms. She can be reached at carolyn.m.wilson@gmail.com