The Montfort Group

The Overlooked Skill for Career Development

It’s time to rethink an antiquated model, and counseling can help.

Lately, I’ve encountered more clients and parents with concerns regarding career development. As a therapist, I have worked with clients who feel stuck about where to apply their skills, education, and interests. I have sat with individuals as they brace themselves for a massive career overhaul, and guided college students through changing majors. I have supported mothers who are re-entering the workforce after years away, and I have worked alongside nervous parents who are unsure how to prepare their children for a rapidly changing world.

One fact remains: we don’t live in our parents’ job market. 

According to a 2019 report by McKinsey Global Institute, most jobs are poised to change by 2030. Chances are you interact with automation and algorithms daily, and this will only continue to increase. The wave of automation will affect some of the largest occupations and job markets in the US economy, from healthcare to education. Developing technologies will demand higher-level skills, and the model of front-loading education (i.e. go to college at 18, enter the workforce or start graduate school by 22) is likely to be replaced by life-long learning. Training that ends in our twenties will no longer sustain individuals through retirement.

If this is what the future holds for employment, then what is the most important skill to throw our energy behind? Simply put: creativity.

Because we are entering a world where the jobs of our children’s future have not even been dreamt of, creativity is the one skill that will help them remain open to new ideas, prepared to be flexible, and unafraid of inevitable change.

Creativity is no longer the buzzword associated solely with the arts (think back to the winner of “most creative” for your high school yearbook, chances are they were in band or theater). Broadly speaking, it is the special quality that helps us generate multiple solutions to a problem. Creative thinking is a tool that can be developed and honed, and best of all, it can be fostered at any age.

Career counseling used to emphasize job placement, but it offers much more in 2020. Part of my role as a therapist is to help clients expand their creative thinking skills. Reducing anxiety, for instance, can allow a person to think more flexibly and creatively. Verbally processing concerns teaches problem solving and collaboration.

In a more direct approach, counselors can also educate clients about meaningful ways to explore their career interests and strengths. I often use assessments, timelines, guided imagery, and online resources with my clients. We can co-create specific goals to work on before the next session and tackle a seemingly overwhelming process step-by-step. 

It’s time to solve an old problem creatively.

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