By: Dr. Helen Ofosu
Career Coaching for Professionals
Does a Degree Still Guarantee Employment?
In the past, having a professional degree in engineering, law, or teaching, etc. or a graduate degree practically guaranteed stable and lucrative employment. There was no question that the investment of your time and money in school would pay off. Somehow, for some professionals and aspiring professionals, those days of guaranteed, high-quality employment seem elusive (read more on this topic here).
If you’re a professional/aspiring professional who has earned the right credentials but you can’t get a stronghold in the job market – you may be asking yourself “now what?” Or, you may be a parent who has invested time and money raising and educating your kids and you’re extremely disappointed to see them underemployed for no fault of their own.
I’ll admit that if I was in school right now, I’m not sure that I’d spend the time required to earn my doctorate in psychology. Don’t get me wrong, I do value the foundation that I built by studying psychology at a high level. I appreciate the fact that I grew accustomed to figuring things out when there is no clear answer (this is part of the territory when you do a doctorate). Despite those benefits, it’s clear that things have definitely changed since I was a student. It’s more expensive and there’s lots of talk about “academic inflation” – whereby degrees seem less valuable because they are plentiful. Regardless of these real and imagined changes in the economy, paid employment is still necessary for most of us.
Many Career Coaching Options, How Can You Tell Who’s Good?
Given these challenges, it’s no surprise that most of my career coaching clients are professionals or aspiring professionals. Sometimes clients reach out to me themselves, other times, their parents contact me first. They tell me that one of the things they find encouraging is that they are confident that I have enough experience to be able to help solve major challenges. Further, in an unregulated field where anyone can build a website and call themselves a career coach or a life coach, it’s hard to tell the difference between coaches who are great at marketing versus those who can deliver results.
In many cases, the best option is to find ways to re-frame a client’s skills and experience so that they resonate more with potential employers. That combined with strategic ways to gain access to employment opportunities is often all that’s required.
Alternatives to Traditional Employment
There are other situations where the most viable long-term option is self-employment or entrepreneurship. When a capable recent grad is faced with the prospects of precarious contract work or numerous unpaid internships the prospect of building their own business or buying a franchise becomes very compelling. Similarly, for a more mature and experienced person who needs to find a different path forward, building a business or buying a franchise becomes much more attractive. This is even more so when they are already at the top end of the pay scale and future employers are closer to their children’s age than the age of their peers.
Common myths around franchise ownership often mean that it’s an overlooked option. Self-employment, entrepreneurship and franchise ownership isn’t for everyone but it can be appealing when there’s a good alignment of interests, skills and personal qualities.
In future posts, I’ll explore (1) the pros and cons associated with starting a business from scratch versus buying a franchise and (2) franchise ideas that may be especially appealing to professionals / aspiring professionals.
More than career coaching, it’s career psychology®.
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