As the job market is extremely competitive, pursuing a successful career after receiving your qualification can be challenging in any industry. As a Counsellor, you can equip yourself with various practical skills and knowledge that will assist you to be competitive and responsive to industry needs. To make your successful career more plausible, we've developed some guidelines that cover a few aspects you should consider after finishing your course of studies.
Step One: Business
Many Counsellors establish a practice of their own at some stage in their careers. Managing a small business involves not only effort, but extensive know-how and concise planning.
Research and be aware of registration requirements for a small business. Go to government websites and see how you'll fit in the market, and use that information to avoid any legal complications in the future.
Business owners need to be aware of their tax obligations. For instance, your Business Activities Statement (BAS) will reflect the GST you have paid on goods and services, and as a new business it will be more than likely returned. Purchasing books and stationery, for example, may incur GST reimbursements.
It's recommended that you acquire business management skills to assist you to run an effective practice. You can acquire these skills through various business courses, workshops or discussion groups (or simply read a book) and get some idea on how to start.
Marketing will build your business and your image. There are many avenues for attracting your prospective clientele, and using a combination of them is a great way to build your practice. Create business cards and brochures; create a website or homepage; place ads in industry newsletters and newspapers; network with allied health professionals in your locality; talk to friends, relatives and people you relate to. Most of your marketing objectives can be achieved simply by being proactive and having a little bit of creativity.
Step Two: Networking
Networking is the most efficient way for a Counsellor to improve skills and acquire clients. As most Counsellors already have good communication skills, networking is a chance to direct these skills to the right areas (and people).
Apply to work for a community charity or institution. This will not only increase your skills and experience; but also allow you to have direct contact with other professionals, become known in the community, have access to a varied marketing channel and considerably improve the content of your resume.
Visit your local General Practitioners, Pharmacists and other health care professionals. Have a chat with them; let them know you are starting your practice and leave a brochure or business card. These simple actions are an effective way to get a continuous flow of referrals.
Joining industry-specific discussion groups is a good way to interact with other professionals. Look for them in newspapers and on the internet. Communications technology can be a great advantage if well used, and a very powerful tool if well directed.
Step Three: Continuous Improvement
Education is a continuous process. Be aware that to be competitive you must keep in touch with the changes in your environment and trends of your industry. The best way to do this is through your Professional Association such as the Australian Counselling Association. Visit them at www.theaca.net.au.
Read magazines, online news, journals and other resources that provide information about the counselling industry. You'll need to keep up-to-date with your professional requirements and the advancements of your study areas.
Keep increasing your knowledge and practical reach by completing short courses, workshops and other training that are relevant to your work area. Exceed your primary training by studying other areas of interest.
Having a supervisor will help you gain a wealth of knowledge and confidence. Peer supervision is also an option to consider as it enables further cross-fertilisation of ideas.