Book Review and Program Planning: The Career Counselor’s Handbook


The purpose of this writing is to give information about the book, The Career Counselor’s Handbook that was written by Howard Figler and Richard Nelson Bolles.  The book contains a wealth of knowledge from these two individuals who have worked as career counselors.  The second purpose of the paper is to apply knowledge gained in the book in one’s own career counseling career.

Book Review and Program Planning

A career counselor has many different jobs.  These jobs are to watch the job market for trends that require different kinds of workers and cater to many different individuals and how they match to these jobs.  The counselor needs to know what is available and what their clients want to do.  A counselor must first get information from the client.  The knowledge that the counselor acquires from the client must be organized and applied to the client’s needs.  What does the client want to do?  Where does he/she want to do it?  How do you find the person who has the power to hire you?  The counselor then helps the client to find answers to these questions.  The counselor will share with client the wisdom, knowledge, and information necessary to get a job.  Careers can fit into three different categories:  agriculture, manufacturing and information/service.  It is necessary to find out which category holds the client’s interest.  The main idea of the book is to give the six objectives of career counseling which are:

1.  Assume responsibility

2.  Imagine career ideas.

3.  Use one’s favorite functional and adaptive skills

4.  Deal with negative emotions.

5.  Know how to determine steps to a career goal

6.  Choose work with meaning and purpose.

Counselors must work to sharpen skills such as clarifying content, reflecting feelings and “reading between the lines”, open ended questions, identify skill, and establishing goals.  Many clients are impatient to get advice, but counselors need to lead clients to their own conclusions.  Clients should elicit career ideas from clients by asking direct questions, using mental imagery, and focusing on client accomplishments.  Clients should be warned that while confidence is a good thing, ego can wear you down by becoming addictive, turning to worry and stress and pleasure from doing the job disappears.  There are successful people who are very unhappy (Brown, 2016).   Some people spend too much energy trying to become who they think they should be instead of who they want to be and that self-judgement is damaging.  Through the years, the job seeking process has changed.  In the very beginning, Frank Parsons had the idea to match people to jobs, then fifty years later, there were books written to help people get jobs.  Now, fifty years after that, in the digital age, job hunting looks very much different and career coaches have gained momentum.  The 1-2-3 approach asks the client what he wants to do.  Then the counselor asks what is stopping you from doing that.  Then the counselor asks the client what he/she is doing about it.  These questions require the client to take responsibility for actions and helps them be responsible for a plan of action.  The authors suggest that testing encourages a client to be dependent on those results without searching out his/her own path.  It is important for the counselor to be familiar with occupational forecasts.  The client can be given the information as a guide.  There is no guarantee when reading occupational forecasts.  The data maybe biased in many areas.  The data does not take into effect many factors.  The career counselor must get in touch with what drives the person.  Getting to know the client is the only way to genuinely help.  Focus on what the client can do and not on his weaknesses.   Clients should be taught to demonstrate skills if necessary, bring samples of work, bring names of references and other things that show skills. The counselor should keep in mind that the client must help himself.  It is not the counselor’s sole responsibility to “get the client a job”.  Sometimes clients feel that they are victims or they have low self-esteem.  Some people want shortcuts.  It is the counselor’s responsibility to assist the client in setting goals, but watching him achieve them.  Sometimes there are clients who keep coming back, but they seem to have no follow through.  Their actions do not match their words.  They have big dreams, but they are taking no action.  Counselors should remember that confronting the client is okay.  It is a way to help.

My Program


Clients can be helped by career counselors in a variety of ways.  According to the American School Counselor Association National Standards, students will develop career awareness.  The counselor will conduct classroom guidance lessons, group activities, parent education and classroom lessons that emphasize career development.  The counselor will advise students for educational plans that lead to a career plan.  The counselor will collaborate with businesses and agencies in order to develop internship sites and job placements for students.  The counselor will obtain administrative support.  The counselor will establish goals for the counseling program.  A committee will be formed that agrees to serve all students, facilitate transition, serve as a key part of a K-12 program, becomes an integral part of the school counseling program and dedicate itself to the educational mission fo the school.  There will be a needs assessment.  Then goals will be written in order to establish criteria for success.

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Processes.  The students should be made aware of labor market information which shows data concerning trends in employment.  Students should know that all jobs are not always at peak hiring times.  They will learn that geography may play a part in their jo search.  They need to learn what their salaries could be and also if they need extra training or education for the job.  This assessment is performed regularly.  This information provides a current picture of employment across the nation.


Advocacy.  There are many students/clients who will need someone to advocate for them.  There are special needs students, minorities, GLBT, clients with disabilities of every kind, multicultural clients, and so many others who need help.  First the counselor must assess the need.  Then the counselor must make a plan.  Included in the advocacy plan is to take action, then evaluate and follow up.  All clients should have access to the resources, services, and jobs to which he is entitled.

Approaches for Assessment.  Solid decisions made by counselors are often data based.  In order to get the data, some type of assessment must take place.  Aptitude, interest, values, and personality assessments are good ways to promote self-awareness.  The decision-making process can be similar if it is based on the data from a self-assessment.  These assessments can be valuable tools for assisting the client in getting a job, but there are times when life experiences must be studied.  A 40 year old woman with experience running a household will have very different skills than an 18 year old woman just getting out of high school.  The career counselor must get to know the client and the skill set. A solution-focused approach keeps the client moving toward the goal.  Using this approach, the strengths of the client is identified and the client is encouraged to celebrate past successes and what needs to be changed to reach the career goal.


Strategies for Development.  Developing a career counseling program takes much talent.  It seems that there is no hard and fast rules for counseling.  An eclectic approach must be used as each client must be treated individually and there is no assembly line approach for testing, screening, and finding jobs.  Career assessment tools can help the counselor get to know the client.  Understanding and flexibility is important on both the part of the client and the counselor.  In the book,  , it says that intial career choice is overemphasized.  So many high school seniors are pressured to make a choice for their careers and they are 17 and 18 years old.  It takes time to decide upon a career.  Schooling, education, and employment will steer a client in directions unplanned.  This must be explained.  The most important skill to teach a client is to show what they can do.  It is so important demonstrate skills, bring samples of work, and show the data.  In the 1930s, the idea of “selling yourself” at an interview came to be known.  It is still true today.


  • Brown, D. (2016). Career information, career counseling, and career development. Pearson.
  • Figlar, H., & Bolles, R. N. (2007). The Career Counselor’s Handbook (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Ten Speed Press.
  • Looby, M. A. (2014). Solution-Focused Career Counseling. Solution-Focused Career Counseling. Retrieved June 07, 2019, from //


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