This past Friday, I had the privilege of visiting the graduate students of the Northwestern Family Institute to talk about the counseling job market. The graduate students were engaged and had great questions about the field of counseling. Many of the questions addressed the challenges of finding a job in counseling, the importance of setting long-term professional goals, and fears associated with a lack opportunities following graduation.

As a guest at the Family Institute, I was excited about the direction of the counseling field and the new professionals that will soon be making a difference in mental health. The counseling field is constantly evolving and students are being challenged by new curriculum incorporating multiculturalism, empathy skills, and new and improved specializations.

Some of the highlighted points from my visit were:

LinkedIn – Joyce Marter, owner of Urban Balance, says that you should make sure you get endorsements on your LinkedIn when you can and keep it updated.

First impressions – Voicemails may be your first introduction to a possible employer before they meet you face to face. Joyce says, make sure your voicemail is professional. Additionally, the tone of phone interviews should be welcoming.

Your contribution – Think about how you can be an asset to the organization and prepare to talk about it in your face to face interview.

Networking and mentorship – It is very important to network in the field of counseling. Connecting with other professionals in the field can offer support and guidance. However, there is balance between keeping in touch with someone you want to connect with and being intrusive.

Get involved with your professional counseling association. Attend their workshops and networking events. It’s a great way to meet other professionals in the field. The Illinois Counseling Associate (ICA) and Illinois Mental Health Counseling Association (IMHCA) are just two examples of great organizations where you can get involved.

Google yourself. Now in the 2016’s employers are sure to be curious about your online presence.

Do your own work. If you are going to work in the counseling field, it’s imperative that you understand your own work. It’s okay to highlight the personal benefits to counseling and support while keeping boundaries in tact.

Change is hard. Change is anxiety filling and can be uncomfortable. However, it is nice to see new counselors stepping up to the challenge, ready to take the field by storm. I am proud to be a part of their experiences.