Saiyada Smith

I am a Careers Adviser based at C2 and University College London (UCL). Before seeing the light, I worked in Advertising & Marketing. Si

Cultural beliefs in careers guidance

As promised, I am writing a follow-up to The East and West of Careers Guidance.  Since posting the article I have been thinking about one of our alumni (who I will call Priti) who gave feedback about her experience of Careers Guidance in the UK:

The adviser was very nice, she asked me lots of questions about my career decision making and made me think about what had led me to my career choice. I did at the end of the interview feel very sad. Although she made me think, I knew I couldn’t change my social situation or career decision. I guess although we spoke the same language we ultimately didn’t understand one another.

According to the Social Learning Theory of Career Decision Making (SLTCDM), people’s beliefs (or generalisations) about themselves and the world of work influence their approach to learning new skills, developing new interests, setting career goals, making career decisions, and taking action toward career goals. John D Krumboltz, who developed SLTCDM and was also behind Planned Happenstance, went on to say that beliefs can become so ingrained that they may not be identified by their holders as beliefs – they are taken to be unquestioned, self-evident truths.

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The East and West of Careers Guidance

I was recently in Bangalore undertaking a graduate employability research visit. The highlight of my trip was a meeting with colleagues from The Promise Foundation – a not-for-profit organisation involved in some ground breaking careers work in India. The ‘Promise’ team is made up of behavioural scientists who examine theory to develop careers interventions that are relevant to the Indian context. We spent time learning about the Jiva project and observed elements of the programme being applied in a local school.

I had a fascinating discussion with Sachin Kumar a fellow ‘Theories Geek’ and the Jiva Programme’s Project Manager about the concept of a career in the Indian context. I understood from Sachin that a major difference between the east and west in regards to career decision making is the notion of individualism and collectivism. In the west career planning focuses on the individual, his or her interests, skills and aptitudes; this coupled with the mobility across occupations gives the individual a sense of freedom with their career decision making. Where as in India, family and the wider society are very much intrinsic to the individuals career beliefs, aspirations and decisions. For example, divergence from family and parental directions could be taken as disobedience. A further layer of complexity within India was its caste system where the work one was expected to perform was based on the caste you were born into. Read the rest of this entry »

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The First Model

Ok, ok, this isn’t a trawl through the back issues of Hello Magazine to identify the ‘first’ ever model, instead a look at the FIRST Framework. I came across this model a few weeks ago and initially really connected with its simplicity. FIRST stands for: Focus, Information, Realism, Scope and Tactics. The dimensions of the FIRST framework can be used as a diagnostic tool to ascertain the stage the client is at in their career thinking.

  • Focus:  How far has the client narrowed down their options?
  • Information: How well-informed are they about the career options they are considering?
  • Realism: How realistic is the client (both in relation to own abilities and the constraints of the market)?
  • Scope: How aware is the client of the range of options available?
  • Tactics: To what extent has the client worked out the steps to achieve their career objectives?

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Guidance vs Coaching

Over the last couple of weeks I have found myself in deep debate with my careers colleagues about the differences and similarities between Coaching and Guidance. I myself struggle to differentiate the two practices, so upon much probing a colleague clarified Coaching as “practice focused on goal setting and achievement where as Guidance is all about the past”

This got me thinking, both the Egan 3 Stage Model and the popular Ali & Graham Model contain a clearly defined action planning stage and there isa focus on goal setting. Yes, there is an exploration stage where practitioners are encouraged to help clients reflect on blocks and obstacles to their decision making, identify patterns of behaviour from the past that may impact future choice and hell we even work as catalysts in helping clients define their own way forward. So erm, what was the difference between Guidance and Coaching?
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The three levels of listening

Are you listening?

Are you listening?

I am preparing to deliver The Careers Group’s two day Basic Guidance Interview Skills training course. In preparation and in search of new ways of bringing to life the training, I have been reading a book by Laura Whitworth called Co-Active Coaching.

In this book, the author explains the importance of listening within a coaching context by describing the three  levels of listening which I think provide an effective way of illustrating the importance of active listening.

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