As a professional career counselor employed by a college, I will often receive requests for assistance from "non-affiliates" (individuals not affiliated with my institution). Due to the ratio of staff to client-base, our policy is to limit services to only our own students and alumni. Over the course of many years, my colleagues and I have often helped non-affiliates to realize that there may be a wealth of other local and Internet resources that they have not yet tapped, including career counselors in private practice. This brief article is meant to help college graduates and other job seekers identify free, or inexpensive, resources in their geographic areas.
Contact Career Services
If you are a college graduate, be sure to contact the career services office at your own alma mater(s). Many institutions, like mine, offer lifetime career development services for alumni. Others offer limited services; still others offer services at extremely reasonable rates. And much of what is offered may be available long-distance.
One of the most important services to request will be access to your alma mater's version of our Career Advisor Network (alumni who have volunteered to speak with you, respond to your career-related questions, and advise you on your job search).
You may be able to request telephone appointments with the career development professionals at your alma mater(s) for services such as resume reviews and advising sessions on job search strategies or interviewing techniques.
You'll also want to get any required passwords for access to your alma mater's online job listing databases.
And it never hurts to ask if your alma mater(s) have existing reciprocity agreements with institutions in your geographic area (allowing you to access the services of the local collegeâ€™s career services office). But be prepared to hear that your access will be limited to non-password-protected job listings (no counselor contact).
Find Free Job Search Help
Here are some other ideas that are helpful to all job seekers, whether they've graduated from college or not.
Check with your local local public library to see what they have in their career research and job search collections. Ask if they offer job search workshops or run a job search club.
Look for regional/local branches of professional associations for the field(s) of interest to you to tap their networking potential.
Go online for advice. Hiring for Hope has a variety of career resources for job seekers, including complimentary one-on-one career coaching.
Check with your local Chamber of Commerce to ask about career/job fairs that may be planned for the near future. Search the
Chamber of Commerce International Directory for contact information.
Tap resources and services available through your state Department of Labor office. You will find both online resources as well as in-person options. For more in-depth information on this idea, refer to the previously published article, Departments of Labor: Job Referrals, Training and Other Employment Services.
Locate a Career Counselor
Finally, if you want actual career counseling (rather than just job search advice and resources) and live at too great a distance to make the often-mandatory in-person sessions with career counselors from your alma mater(s) feasible, you may want to engage the services of a private career counselor in your local area. Before doing so, be sure to consult the National Career Development Association's (NCDA) Consumer Guideline for Selecting a Career Counselor. It provides an excellent overview of the roles of a career counselor, training and credentials information, what you should expect and demand as a client, ethical practices, and more.