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2020 and 2021 Career Trends

Navigating the Unknown Through Creativity

By Michael Peng, for the International Congress and Convention Association, Asia Pacific Chapter Summit 2020

For the last couple of years, the pandemic has caused continual uncertainty for individuals, businesses, and countries. And that uncertainty doesn't seem like it's going away anytime in the near future.

But what we often forget is that it is in these periods of uncertainty where creativity really takes center stage. Creativity thrives when we don't know what the answer is — and we certainly don't have all the answers yet!

How can all of us be more creative, especially during this tough moment in our lives?  Here are 7 ways to be more creative.

1.  Look to the edges. 

How might we look to these extreme cases to find inspiration?

For example, Portugal found itself in the situation of having no one left to vaccinate.  They had been so successful in getting everyone to get vaccinated, that they could find no more people who needed to be vaccinated.  How did they do that?  They provided ideas for the rest of the world on how to overcome the anti-vaccer movement.

2. Dig into obsessions

I found myself obsessed by the Korean band BTS, so I indulged my obsession.  In the process, I learned an amazing amount.  Dig in – you will come out much more informed.

3. Find your personally monopoly

Combine your unique combination of interests, skills, and personality traits to become the only person in the world that does what you do.  Develop a monopoly on some topic which you know more about than anyone else in the world. (On YouTube:

4. Breath new air into the old

In Japanese, the word is 

It refers to the past as “warm” because the past is known and comfortable.  How might we create something new for the future by paying respect to the past?

5. Find metaphors and analogies

For example, when asked to redesign an operating room, we found an analogy in a completely different industry - the “pit stop” in car racing.  By combining these different concepts, we found hints into innovations for the operating room. How might we look for analogies (outside our industry) and use them as inspirations for what we can do differently?

6.  Build to think

Before you have decided what you need to build, get tangible and begin to build.  That will help you to focus on what you really need. You may have to throw away some of what you built at first, but the results will be more useful. Using your hands to make it real helps you to think creatively.

7.  Practice radical generosity

“Pay it forward.” Share your ideas, and others will share theirs with you. How might we continue to share everything we are learning, so that we might learn more, in return?

There is a lot in the world that is uncertain, but it is important for the leaders in the world to be inspiring and creative. 

Michael Peng is Chief Creative Officer of Moon Creative Lab. Moon Creative Lab is a design-led innovation hub that powers the creation of new businesses for Mitsui & Co, one of Japan’s largest trading companies. Moon Creative Lab was created to help unlock the creativity of Mitsui & Co.’s more than 45,000 strong global workforce and build innovative businesses that will have an exponential impact on Mitsui & Co. and the rest of the world. Previously, Mr. Peng was a Partner at IDEO where he co-founded and ran its Tokyo office since its inception in 2011. IDEO is a design and consulting firm that uses the design thinking approach to design products, services, environments and digital experiences. Mr. Peng graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Neuroscience. He has taught at The University of Tokyo, Keio University, Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID), and NYU, among others. He currently serves on the board for, a non-profit committed to create a more just and inclusive world through design.

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Image via Pexels

Guidance for Migrant Workers Affected by COVID-19 in the USA

By Sharon Redd

Whether you’re a migrant worker yourself or you’re looking for ways to help those struggling during the coronavirus crisis, these resources offer guidance on obtaining legal assistance in the United States, finding new work opportunities, and understanding essential health information. To explore the many resources available to migrant workers amid COVID-19, read on.

Legal Assistance Services

Whether you’re at risk of deportation or you need help understanding your workers’ rights amid the pandemic, these resources will provide you with the information you need.

  • Consider applying for an appropriate work visa if you don’t already have one.
  • Visit the website of the National Immigrant Law Center (NILC) to understand your rights as an employee of the United States and connect with additional resources if you’ve been affected by the pandemic.
  • Look for free legal help with these resources from the American Bar Association (ABA).
  • Review these tips for selecting an attorney.

Possible Work Opportunities

Are you in search of new work opportunities, or know someone who is? These resources can help to connect you or another worker with available job opportunities.

Health and Safety Guidelines

Protect yourself during the coronavirus outbreak with these health and safety guidelines.

  • To protect yourself from the coronavirus, review these safety guidelines from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). These guidelines are available in several languages, including French, Wolof, Igbo, Edo, Chinese, and Romanian.
  • Think you might be sick? Review this information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), available in languages such as English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean.
  • Don’t feel safe or protected on the job? File a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or your county health department.

Migrant workers are vital members of the U.S. economy, but the coronavirus pandemic has put them at risk of health and safety concerns, deportation, and unemployment. With the resources above, hopefully you’ll have all the information you need to assist struggling migrant workers amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Sharon Redd created Live All the Way to help others live life to the ABSOLUTE FULLEST. She believes life all the way is a life with all the toppings! It’s ordering guacamole and queso at the restaurant. It’s wearing those bright pink shoes, no matter what anyone else thinks. It’s using your formal china for every meal and hugging your friends every time you see them. It’s eating ice cream for breakfast and so much more. Her goal, each and every day, is to live all the way and her mission is to help others do the same.

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The Ultimate Stress-Free Guide to Relocation

By Sarah Velasquez of

Relocating for your career can be a stressful time. With so many things to take note of beforehand, it can be overwhelming to even know where to begin at first. However, if you happen to have the right tools and resources on hand, relocating doesn't have to be as hard it sounds. So, without further ado, here is the ultimate guide to making your move as stress-free as possible. 

Choosing a new home

One of the first things you will want to have sorted before you leave is making sure you have a suitable place to stay for when you get there. This is a significant consideration if you plan to move with a young family in tow (for obvious reasons). This may mean that you will need to get pre-approved for a mortgage in the meantime which can actually end up expediting the buying process as sellers are often more open to accepting offers from pre-approved buyers. 

Take an earlier trip to your new destination

If you are moving with family, especially, taking an early trip to your new destination may be the perfect opportunity to help settle the nerves and get your family (and even pets) better acquainted with the area before you move for good. In addition, this exercise may be especially beneficial for children or teenagers who might find the concept of sudden change particularly difficult. 

Do your research well in advance 

Doing research well in advance prior to your moving date can go a long way in alleviating the stress of moving for you and your family. Things you should look into might include:

Researching the ideal neighborhood

Deciding on the right neighborhood for you and your family is one of the most important considerations you will ever make. After all, you'll want to make sure that it has all the necessary amenities close by, such as pharmacies, hospitals, schools, parks, etc. So again, browse around and weigh up the pros and cons of the area that appeals most to you. This may mean you are open to trading one for another, such as trading a longer commute to work for closer proximity to school, depending on your personal preferences. 

Create a moving budget 

Preparing a moving budget in advance will help you get a clearer picture of all the expenses that are likely to be incurred upon moving. It may also be a good idea to set aside emergency funds and additional savings for unexpected costs that may crop during the moving process. 

Pick a reliable and trustworthy moving company

Choosing a reliable and trustworthy moving company is another one of those vital decision-making moments, as you'll likely be entrusting your most precious valuables (and that of your families) into their care. Therefore, to minimize the likelihood of valuables getting lost or damaged, you should go about choosing a moving company wisely. If you are unsure of where to look, ask around your current neighborhood or look at online reviews to see which moving company comes out on top. And as always, you should ideally compare quotes to get the best deal for you. 

Stay calm and stay organized

When it comes to moving, organization is critical to ensure you don't lose track or sight of essential details. In this case, use lists or checklists to ensure you don't miss anything. After all, you don't want to move across the country only to find out you've forgotten something critical behind. Again, a professional moving company can help you get your things in order, sorted, and pre-organized for when you leave so that you can double-check and triple-check everything one last time before you move.

In conclusion, while relocating for your career is a big deal, it can also be an exciting adventure to look forward to. Because, after all, a change really can be as good as a holiday!

Sarah and Mark Velasquez are the creators of Our Perfect Abode. After years of renting, they bought their very first home. They’re currently hard at work turning that fixer upper into their perfect abode and are sharing their journey and all the tips and tricks they pick up along the way on their website,

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New Urgency to Career Planning in USA

By Dr. Scott Dell

We live in historic times. According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS),

  • 4.3 million workers in America quit their jobs in August, 2021…and more continue to do so (Time 10/13/21). October
  • unemployment dropped to 4.6% while
  • 7.7 million are officially looking to fill one of the roughly
  • 10.4 million openings.

Both the employee and employer need to rethink their approaches to gainful employment as we enter the Next Normal. With so many departures, does that create opportunities for job seekers? It should! This recent NPR article gives additional insights Even the Harvard Business Review is chiming in on the situation via

Not only are employees pivoting and transitions, but so are students in college. Inside Higher Ed shared an interesting article on the directions and intentions of college student on 10/20/21 and the role of Career Service offices (also insightful for coaches and others that inspire job seekers) at

Dr. Scott Dell is an experienced entrepreneur, active academic, recovering CPA, lifelong learner, enthusiastic teacher, motivating consultant/coach, successful author, and proud Navy veteran, who brings a lot of experience to the table. He thrives on helping others develop new skills, expand their knowledge, grow their organizations, inspire their students and staff, educate their people, and effectively use the latest technologies - especially LinkedIn. Dr. Dell authored the LinkedIn resource Your COMPLETE Guide to SUCCEEDING with LinkedIn to help YOU develop a top 5% profile assisting YOU to achieve YOUR goals.  Contact Dr. Dell at or join his LinkedIn group at

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Personal Branding and Career Videos

By Paula Brand

It’s important to first assess your current brand. If you are not sure how to do that, visit my last blog.  Once you understand your brand, then you can share it with others. I recently discovered a cool new way to do that. A few colleagues created Career Brand Videos which provide three high-quality and very short videos to express your brand. There are a variety of options, but each customer receives three videos. I’ll share the results of mine so you can see what they look like. One is for being a subject matter expert (SME), one shows your personality, and one shares testimonials. I was very impressed with this service and would recommend it to other business owners, job seekers, and those who care about managing their brand. If you want to find out more, write to me and I can explain the process. Or click here. I felt strongly enough about this product to become an affiliate so if you click on that link and make a purchase, I will receive a modest percentage.

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Paula Brand is an expert on Personal Branding and the President of Brand Career Management (BCM), which helps professionals strategically manage their careers, apply effective job search techniques and leverage social media tools to secure their best career options with ease. Find her blog here or contact her at

Career & Life Design Manifesto

By Dr. Brian Schwartz

In a zoom conversation, late last year, with an American career counselor I mentored almost 40 years ago, he reported telling one of his clients, “When things return to normal….”. I had to stop him in his tracks and questioned him why he thought things would ever return to normal when so many existential and emergent challenges and technological changes were sweeping the world at what seemed like breakneck speed. I pointed out that it was our moral obligation as career and life design services providers to be as brutally honest with our clients as possible as we tried to see through the fog of the pandemic to an especially daunting emerging future. There was perhaps a “new normal” we were heading towards but the contours of that new world we were entering were not entirely clear as yet. I respectfully asked him to consider hitting his own “reset button” and try to imagine what we as counselors need to do adjust our approach in the service of our clients in this emerging new order.

Personally, these past months have been one of the darkest I have experienced in my adult life. What has always fueled me in developing the profession of career and life design counseling has been a fervent faith in the future. I have tried my very best to inspire my candidates to tackle the internal barriers they have to their own happiness and success and to meet the external barriers with heightened self-esteem and a passion built on their hope for a better, even heroic life. However, the pandemic has brought dark clouds to my congenital realistic optimism as I see my own mother country riven by such social and political discord so as to amplify some of the worst impacts of the Coronavirus and pile up not only many hundreds of thousands of dead and millions infected well out of proportion of the USA’s population in the world. Logic tells us that, if a country can’t deal well enough to protect the life of its citizens in a public health emergency, then its chances of dealing with the more existential challenges of global warming, collapsing ecosystems and mass extinction of species on its watch while dominating life on this planet are not good. What future can there be when leadership falters? If there is no seeming future, of what use can we truly be with our clients, especially the young ones who face in ten years or less growing climate catastrophes and in 20 years irreversible damage to the oceans, rivers, forests, air, drinking water, soil and all those features of civilization these ecosystems support? And in 30 years, we face what might be the first manmade but Sixth Extinction of life on this planet.

I have emerged out of that dark place with some hopefully clear thinking of the implications for career counselors, career coaches, human resources professionals, talent and learning and organization development professionals, both internal and external consultants, workforce development professionals, executive and managers, education leaders and teachers, frontline mental health professionals i.e., psychiatrists, psychologists, social works, personal counselors and coaches of all stripes. As individuals we can service our clients to the best of our ability by keeping hope alive while keeping our ears and eyes open to the natural mourning that afflicts much of today’s population. Levels of anxiety and depression are spiking higher and higher, especially in our young people, as the hope of even a livable future grows significantly dimmer.

Each one of us needs to keep our own sense of hope alive but that means we need to dig down into the core of being to find the strength to understand the forces facing all of us and to empathize as well as challenge ourselves and our clients to be the very best we can be. In my many years of providing what I once called “clinical career counseling”, helping clients build their self-esteem by taking them on a journey through their life history in a highly structured series of autobiographical interviews, has proven to be a surefire way for clients to build or rebuild a sense of their own power. The pioneering work of Bernard Haldane, popularized by the recently deceased Richard Bolles and elaborated upon by the SuccessDNA module of my CareerDNA Six Factor self-discovery system have served clients well in their quest to become their own heroes. Facing a daunting future with passion and hope requires a belief in oneself and our capacity to find happiness and meaning even in the midst of disaster. Viktor Frankl, the Holocaust survivor and psychoanalyst, wrote Man’s Search for Meaning and laid the groundwork for today’s Positive Psychology, that branch of psychology that I anticipated with my model for career and life design counseling developed in 1977. We counselors must do our level best to help our clients discover their core passions and dreams and natural skills so they can meet the challenges of a world fast unravelling. It is the nimble and agile and life-embracing amongst us who will continue the good fight for life, the freedom to make healthy choices and the ultimate drive to live as happy lives as is possible no matter the objective realities of the extrinsic world.

Counselors are on the frontlines of mental health. While we are not the skilled practitioners who can provide long term therapeutic treatment as is the specialties of psychotherapists and psychoanalysts, we have a special skill set that rides the waves of our clients’ natural strengths and motivation to heal in the everyday populations we serve. When clients have someone in their life who believes in them, many of them find they are able to move personal mountains and alter the way they are living their lives. It is no accident that in 2019, prior to the onset of Covid-19, more than 70% of movie tickets sold internationally were for films that featured heroes or superheroes. This is far from accidental. My many years of counseling clients, corporate organization development consulting, training counselors, coaches and consultants has taught me that so many of us leave childhood with a set of “rescue fantasies” that speak to our early experiences of emotional upset around feelings of abandonment, feelings of being alone and vulnerable in a world we were not strong or big enough to be able to control. Like the iconic Holden Caulfeld of The Catcher in the Rye, we develop a feeling for others who may be hurtling towards the abyss of emotional upset and feelings of despair. It is incumbent upon us to be sensitive to the needs of our clients in their desire to be saved but also their desire to save others in the all too human tragicomedy we call life. We, each of us, need to become our own heroes and build ourselves as agents of our own destiny and to be proactive and humane actors in the lives of those with whom we are intertwined. Being the “Gandalf” to our clients, the wise person who assists each of our clients on that journey to self-actualization, is what makes our work “sacred” and I use that term advisedly but not religiously. To be human is to be, by definition, spiritual in that irrespective of whether one is religious or not, each of us has a destiny….not a predetermined fate but a destiny to fulfill. It is the work of the career and life design counselor to be the enabler of those in search of their destiny, even in a world whose very existence is threatened. Is it not better to go down fighting than to fold in despair and passivity in the face of life and its challenges?

We at SuccessDNA PTE are committed to training counselors in our proven methods of making a huge impact on our clients and their lives, an impact so large that the ripple effects in the life of each client often sets off others on their “Hero’s Journey” to a bigger and more gratifying life.

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After over 35 years in organization development building participative management cultures in the USA, UK, Europe and China, Dr. Brian Schwartz founded Suzhou Success Partners Consulting Company (social entrepreneurship model) in China in 2013 to provide employment readiness training and assessment to youth and consulting services to companies and government agencies throughout China. Dr. Schwartz has developed online tools to assess career fit and talent management strategies for individuals and organizations using CareerDNA, TalentDNA and TeamDNA products and services. He is currently working on projects in Singapore, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Canada, India, Vietnam and Australia. He specializes in training career counselors and coaches, career and executive assessments, career and life design counseling/planning/management, career coaching, talent management consulting, executive coaching, organization development consulting and career transition counseling. Contact Dr. Schwartz at

Are you ready to provide 21st Century Career Guidance?

Michael Healy, Head of Career Development and Employability, Career Ahead

The career journeys of people in the 21st century have been guided and disrupted by Industry 4.0, an industrial revolution driven by digitalisation, profoundly changing the world of work. It must be the role of the qualified career practitioners to guide students through this transition, providing insights into the future of work, in particular guidance on 21st century skills and the demand for emerging vocations and professions.

An immediate challenge exists for the career guidance profession to develop their own knowledge and skills in future work trends, as yesterday’s world of work is very different to tomorrow’s landscape. Decades of research have shown that quality career guidance and education rests on the skills and knowledge of qualified career practitioners, applying current theory and evidence, and working within robust frameworks of professional standards, such as those defined by the Career Industry Council of Australia.

With these demands in mind, the James Cook University & Career Ahead Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma in Career Development was designed to provide a strong foundation in career development theory and applied professional practice, while also being oriented to the unique demands of the 21st century world of work. Our Graduate Certificate of Career Development is fully endorsed by the Career Industry Council of Australia. This means the curriculum aligns to the professional, ethical, and educational standards of  Australia’s peak professional body. Graduates are therefore eligible for professional membership of a CICA Member Association and can officially use the title of Career Practitioner.

The Graduate Certificate of Career Development is delivered in partnership with James Cook University, each subject has been developed and delivered by leading experts in the field. The course contains four subjects, completed one at a time, to optimise learning immersion. The partnership between Career Ahead and James Cook University is itself a unique industry and university collaboration, which allows us to integrate insight from Career Ahead’s wealth of experience in delivering high quality career development and employability programs for diverse client types.

Our course content has been designed specifically to bring career practitioner training up to date with current needs and to fill certain  gaps observed in other qualifications. Our course has several unique qualities designed to suit the needs of learners, providing maximum flexibility through a highly supported online learning model. The program is:

  • Designed for students with busy lives
  • Fully online with engaging and immersive learning design
  • One subject completed every 8 weeks
  • Six opportunities each year to commence study
  • Entire qualification completed in 8 months.
  • Commonwealth Supported Places available for Australian citizens and permanent residents*

*eligibility criteria apply

We teach one of the Graduate Certificate’s four courses every 8 weeks, meaning that you have six opportunities each year to get started and can complete the qualification in 8 months of part-time study. You can start the course with any subject and study the subjects in any order. The qualification is delivered fully online, with a mix of self-study, pre-recorded lectures, and live tutorials and workshops.

Each course includes multiple guest subject matter experts from the full breadth of the career development industry, sharing their lessons from practice and offering advice to aspiring career practitioners. Two courses, Career Development Professional Practice and Career Counselling, include intensive practical workshops, delivered online, providing students with opportunities to apply their skills in practice, observed and supported by experienced practitioners.

We have also recently developed a version of our Graduate Certificate of Career Development specifically for those working in schools. We have targeted the professional and practical contexts of school-based career development practitioners in our course content, live tutorials and workshops, and assessment.

Now, more than ever, quality career guidance and education is needed to support people in challenging and uncertain times. Quality careers support rests on the quality of the career practitioner’s skills and knowledge. Is it your time to invest in professional development?

Find out more, request a brochure or an individual conversation:

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Supporting Creative Clients in Their Careers

By Han Kok Kwang, Bestselling Author, 1st APCDA Legacy Partner Lifetime member, 1st NCDA Master Trainer in Asia

APCDA Career Competencies
1. Communication and Interpersonal Skills
2. Client Service Delivery
3. Individual and Group Career Counseling Skills

The COVID pandemic has hit many creatives hard worldwide. At the time of writing, Singapore’s creative industry has suffered $32,347,423 in lost work due to COVID-19. According to the website, 8,966 projects were lost and 2,916 people were affected.

In the UK, a major crisis faces the many creative freelancers who have been excluded from all forms of jobs and business support since the pandemic hit in March last year. Campaign group Excluded UK estimates that 3 million UK taxpayers have been unable to access meaningful government support.

Many creative freelancers have “portfolio careers” with multiple jobs. But a high proportion of these ancillary jobs, like teaching, were halted due to lockdown. This meant many were unable to make a living. The reasons these individuals were excluded from government support could be because many were newly self-employed, had recently graduated or have part-time work on a payroll. While much creative work has found an audience online during this period, many are worried that by giving content away for free, they are setting a precedent that their work lacks value and they risk devaluing their practice as a whole.

Like the elusive snow leopard of the Himalayas, rare is the creative client who seeks career guidance. After all, generating possibilities are their forte. Yet, when creativity does not translate into paid projects, they might consider career assistance. Even now, they are very selective, and would only approach practitioners who have proven they can help clients turn passion into profits.

The basic approach in supporting creative clients is similar to supporting any client, with empathy and helping skills. Creatives have a unique worldview that is quite different from corporate, because they value passion over profits. Many creatives see their work as passion projects of love, rather than businesses. Thus, the challenge comes from communicating with them on their “frequency” eg. using the right lingo and gaining their trust. If there is no trust, no coaching can take place.

Once trust is gained, there is a higher chance that they will listen to you. Help them see the need to manage 2 risks: financial (ie. income concerns), and emotional (ie. reaction from clients on their work). Then maybe they will do what needs to be done, so that they can make a decent living again.

From my experience with creatives, these 3 options have worked well:

  1. Help them understand business acumen and corporate empathy.
    1. That companies go into business to make profits and reduce costs. Once they get this, they can better position themselves to get deals and get paid.
    2. To provide what clients want, not what they think clients want. Clients want progress, not perfection. Clients want sales, not a clever sounding advertisement!
  2. Share with them the 1,000 true fans concept by Wired editor, Kevin Kelly. Find out more about this concept in the links at the end of this article. According to Kevin,

    “To be a successful creator, you don’t need millions. You don’t need millions of dollars or millions of customers, millions of clients or millions of fans. To make a living as a craftsperson, photographer, musician, designer, author, animator, app maker, entrepreneur, or inventor, you need only a thousand true fans.

    A true fan is defined as a fan that will buy anything you produce. These diehard fans will drive 200 miles to see you sing; they will buy the hardback and paperback and audible versions of your book; they will purchase your next figurine sight unseen; they will pay for the “best-of” DVD version of your free YouTube channel; they will come to your chef’s table once a month. If you have roughly a thousand true fans like this (aka super fans), you can make a living — if you are content to make a living, but not a fortune”.

    This is often a Eureka moment for creatives!

  3. Help them build their brand. If people don’t know them, people cannot buy them. Creatives take massive pride in their work. They expect the clients to see their effort. Unfortunately, most clients don’t. I had a super creative resume writer who designed the most attractive CVs. His clients loved them, but most of the CVs won’t clear the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Help them bridge the perception gap, so that their effort can be rewarded.

Caution: Different strokes for different folks. Know your strengths before you select your target segment. Career development for creatives is not for everyone.

Becoming a career professional is more than a job or a career. It is a calling. If you are unsure, go see a career pro before you take the plunge. Your impact goes beyond your client. You also impact their loved ones. If your client does well, your client’s loved ones will be happy too. And vice versa.

With this 6th consecutive article, I’ve delivered on my promise to APCDA. Now it’s time to hand over the wand to the next committed contributor. Step forward. Nothing big was ever achieved by thinking small. If not you, who? If not now, when?


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3 Steps for Using Social Media to Increase the Number of Clients for Coaches

By Tuan Anh Le

APCDA Career Services Competencies
2d. Use enterprise skills
12a. Program design
15b. Keep up-to-date with emerging technologies and innovations
17. Employability Skills

In 2015, when I decided to become a career counselor in Vietnam, at that time the field of counseling/coaching was still very new to many people. Now in 2021, there are many coaches in many different topics such as career, love, life, psychology.

You can work as an internal coach for a company, or become a freelance coach. As a freelance coach, the problem of finding clients is much more difficult than working for a company with an existing client base. To help you alleviate some of the anxiety about 'getting customers', I write this article to share three steps to take advantage of social networks to increase the number of clients.

Step 1: Build a Website and Many Social Networking Sites

We all have a home address for others to find us. In cyberspace, you should have a website – like an online house for people to find, too. I recommend the house on a website which used an extension like .com, .vn, .xyz, instead of a social networking site like Facebook or Youtube because the website has a higher storage capacity. Social media may disappear one day, but your website will still be there. Social networks have their own interface designs depending on the provider, while you can build a website, like your own house, as you like. For example, you can view my website (in Vietnamese):

However, just a website in today's information explosion is not enough. You need more social networking sites to share information. Depending on the type of information you have, choose the appropriate social network. For example, if you often make video and recording content, YouTube or Tiktok, or Spotify are suitable platforms. If you are a writer, try LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. If you like to take and edit images, create infographics or memes, Instagram is not a bad choice. You need to share information on social networks because this is where people gather and read your information, then visit your website if they like your content. Just like bringing things to the market to sell because the market is a place where people usually buy things, if people buy and like your stuff, they will come to your house to buy more.

You can create a website on platforms like WordPress, Wix, Squarespace or Weebly. You can buy domain names from GoDaddy.

Step 2: Let Customers Know about Your Services

There's a saying in the media that "content is the king", you already have a website and multiple social networking sites to your name, now it's time to fill it up with content. There are many forms of content you can produce online to attract customers such as:

  • Articles, videos, photos, or Podcasts.
  • Online courses learn online.
  • Self-composed eBooks that share topics you are good at.
  • Livestream sessions, webinars, and weekly/monthly workshops guided by you.
  • Newsletter sent via email periodically.

The above content can be completely free, the purpose is to attract more people to discover you, before convincing people to use the services you are providing, assuming you offer a personal coaching service.

Step 3: Deliver Your Services

If you're just starting out and don't have any clients yet, start by giving it to the community for free. Free fee but the process is still full of steps, the quality is still at the highest. These free customers will be the database for your reputation and referrals later.

Once you've started getting your first clients, give them the best service. Because a customer who enjoys good service has the potential to return for more services or refer their friends to you. Some ideas to increase sales are:

  • Give a friend-referral voucher to existing customers. For example, a customer who successfully refers a friend is entitled to 20% of that person's consulting fee, or that person gets a 20% discount on his consulting fee.
  • Service plan expansion, by service or by time. For example, when a person comes to me for a successful CV consultation, I can introduce more packages related to career orientation or interview advice, which expands my services. If a person who comes to me for coaching for 1 or 2 sessions feels satisfied, I can design long-term packages of 5-10 sessions, which extends the time.
  • Finally, increase the price periodically according to the annual quality. With each passing year you gain new knowledge, earn new certificates, you should increase the price to match the quality you bring. Consultants are often afraid of talking about money, but this is the right thing to do because the amount you charge for your consulting provides a way to assess your capacity and qualifications. In addition, increasing your fees is also a way to help you work more efficiently and effectively.

One last thing about branding

Putting the initial work into determining your niche and positioning yourself as an expert takes time and consideration, but when done well, it can pay off immensely! As you continue connecting with clients who energize you, you’ll be able to stave off burnout – and reserve the emotional bandwidth that’s crucial for you to continue learning and growing in the profession.

Contact LÊ TUẤN ANH, Career Consultant & Educator, at :

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Post Pandemic World of Career Coaching

By Winston Chue and Ronald Yow

APCDA Career Services Competencies
1. Communication and Interpersonal Skills
2. Client Service Delivery
3. Individual and Group Career Counseling Skills
4. Career Development
5. Career Assessments
16. Career Management Coaching

The future has shifted and will continue to shift. In the face of new complexities, career coaching will need to upscale to meet the demand of our clients to have a meaningful and sustainable experience in charting their career direction.

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives on a global scale. The future is not as certain as it used to be. With accelerated technological advancement, job security in the working world is becoming an increasing concern with innovations being introduced to take on tasks that were once completed by employees. Family time and personal well-being are starting to become more important to workers. Moreover, today’s employees are looking to unlock their potential through mentorship and coaching in the workplace. How can we then pivot our methods to meet the needs of our clients?

There are three practices in career coaching that we should consider shifting to better assist clients in navigating their careers in the face of these new changes.

UnCover instead of Craft

Currently, we generally help clients Craft a plan to reach their desired goal, under the assumption that the goal is supported by the nature of the working world. However, helping a client to unCover their motivations and intentions behind their career goal may make a more meaningful approach rather than forming a to- do list.

Clients’ Needs instead of their Wants

How often do we know and articulate what we need? Clients may already know what they want in their career and articulate it to us as their desired goal, but they may not realise that their goal does not meet their needs. What would happen if we guide our clients to form a better understanding of what they require from their careers?

Using Tools Descriptively instead of Prescriptively

Psychometric Tools are currently used prescriptively. Competence is required for us to use these tools in a manner that most effectively serve our clients in gaining greater self- awareness. Using such resources in a descriptive manner can fully maximise their potential in assisting our clients.

Ultimately, we can pivot in three different areas to better serve our clients:

Coaching Competencies

We should invest in building our Coaching Competencies to make good observations; to co-create a reflective space with our clients that is positive and inspirational; to listen and draw out their needs; and craft questions that are evocative. Through this, we can challenge our clients to think deeply and understand more about themselves

Career Development Theories

It is imperative that we integrate Career Development theories into our interactions with clients. By including frameworks into our coaching, we can find methods that best allow our clients to uncover themselves, thus giving them clearer understanding to progress in their lives.

Coaching Approach

We should take on a Transformative Coaching Approach that guides clients to discover more about themselves and what they think of their situations. Conversations with our clients will no longer be geared towards finding a solution, but rather towards gaining greater insight on their inmost being for them to move forward with more clarity and confidence.

It is imperative that we integrate Career Development theories into our interactions with clients. With a future full of new complexities, we must be equipped to help our clients to move forward in their career pursuits with a better understanding of their identities and needs. Are you ready to take on the post pandemic world?

Ronald Yow has more than 20 years of leadership experience, with vast experience in Organizational Development, Learning Development, Talent Development, Leadership Development and extensive experience working with people from all walks of life and culture. He has spoken at and conducted leadership, coaching and mentoring training sessions in multiple conferences and companies in Singapore and across South Asia, East Asia, and Central Asia. He is a Professional Certified Coach (ICF), Global Career Development Facilitator, and Certified Master of  Career Services. Some of his clients include Microsoft, General Electric, LINX Singapore, Singapore Arm Forces, SATS, Halliburton, HSBC, OCBC, PVCFC (Vietnam) and MB Bank (Vietnam). Contact Mr. Yow at

Winston Chue is an accredited Professional Certified Coach (ICF) with more than 4,000 hours of coaching experience in career and leadership excellence. He is a Certified Administrator of the Strong Interest Inventory (SII) and a recognized Global Career Development Facilitator – Instructor, as well as a Certified Master of Career Services (CMCS). He has more than 4,000 coaching hours. Over the last 10 years, Mr. Chue has facilitated and coached countless individuals and organisations from both public and private sectors, locally and globally. His clients find him an inspiring and reliable individual, through his consistent approach using Transformation Coaching. He is highly regarded as a trainer, facilitator and coach by the Singapore government and its related agencies, as well as by the country’s largest workers’ unions. Contact Mr. Chue at

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5 Steps to Building a Personal Brand on Social Media for Helpers

by Tuan Anh Le

APCDA Career Service Competencies
8b Develop relationships with other professionals – share knowledge and skills
15b Keep up-to-date with emerging technologies and innovations

The 'helpers' according to my personal definition are those who are doing career guidance, psychology, coaching, teaching, human resources... in general, sharing knowledge, listening, and supporting people. Currently, I see that there are many helpers with experience and expertise who are not very well known on social media. Therefore, I wrote this article to briefly share a few experiences to help build a personal brand for those who are doing the work of helping.

Why does someone build a personal brand?

Many people who hear the word “personal brand” will immediately associate it with the word “famous”. Personal building means to be famous, but being famous is easy to have a lot of negative things and it's not good at all. Let's clarify this a bit.

What is the most important goal of a helper? Is it to bring the best value to the community you are aiming for, no matter who the community is, small or large community. To be able to help the community, the first thing is that the people in that community must know who you are and what you are good at, thereby having confidence in your expertise. Personal branding is one way you can achieve this: promote your expertise to more people.

Secondly, good personal branding is good for your finance. A good personal brand not only gives you the opportunity to reach more customers, but you also have the opportunity to earn additional income from other ways such as teaching, sharing, writing books, advertising money, et cetera.

Finally, with a good personal brand, it means that you are a person of a good reputation in the community, which also makes it easier for you to build a professional network, meet executives or leaders of other organizations.

How to build a personal brand in 5 steps?

Step 1: Understand to start

To start something, you need to understand the current situation. First, assess your own social network usage through a few questions such as:

- Where do you live, which social networks are popular?
- In your field, who are the prominent names on social networks?
- How often do you use social media? Which social network do you usually use? What do you do when using that social network?
- Through social networks, people around you are remembering you for what?
- Score from 1 to 10 for your popularity on social networks, how many points do you give yourself?

Next, evaluate the audience you are targeting when you intend to build a personal brand on social networks. The audience here can be customers, or people in the community you want to help. Answer these basic questions:

- Where does this person live? Rural or city? What province?
- How old is this person? High school students? University? Employee? Retiree?
- What social networks do these people usually use? What kind of news do they read?
- What topics do these people study/do about? Economy? Art? Information technology?

Finally, set a few S.M.A.R.T.-style goals for building your personal brand on social media. Some questions to help you set that goal are:

- How much income do you want to get from this branding per month?
- How many followers do you want to achieve, in how long?

Step 2: Choose a niche topic

If you often use social networks, you will find that many people share on many different topics. Some people are remembered for their ability to cook well, some people often travel, some share interesting views on life, some are cool at taking care of cats and dogs. Each person is good at each area, so out of the things you are contributing to the community, what areas do you want others to remember about you?

When thinking about an area that others will remember, think smaller about the niche. A niche topic is a small aspect of a large niche that not many people share yet. In marketing terms, it's the "unique selling point". For example, in 2015 when Tuan Anh started building a personal brand about career guidance, I did not build the image of "career counseling" - because this concept was quite broad and vague to everyone at that time. I started with "CV consulting" - helping people edit their CVs better, increasing their chances of being hired. This is a niche topic because the market is in demand but there are not many people working on this topic.

Step 3: Select the social medial channel

There are hundreds of social networking sites out there, but in general, there are 5 main ways to convey your message:

- Writing. Blogging platforms like WordPress, Weebly.
- Audio. Podcast platforms like Spotify, Apple Podcasts.
- Photo. Image sharing platforms like Pinterest, Instagram.
- Video. Short and long video sharing platforms like YouTube, Tiktok.
- Community. Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Twitter…

If you have chosen a niche topic in step 2, the next thing you need to do is choose a delivery method that you feel most confident with from number 1 to number 4. Some people like writing like me, some people have an inspiring voice, others are very confident in front of the camera. One style for each person. After choosing a channel to transmit and produce content on that channel, you can share it on community channels in item 5.

In fact, once you've built your personal brand long enough, you can deliver your message and content across all channels. However, this takes more time and requires you to have knowledge of diverse content creation, as well as need support. For example, I start with a blog post, then from the blog content, I can record my voice to turn into a Podcast, film to become a vlog, make an infographic to become an image. So I covered all channels.

Step 4: Produce consistent and regularly content

The difference between a content creator for the purpose of personal branding and a social media user for fun is the synchronicity and regularity.

Regularity means you have a specific frequency to produce content related to your chosen topic. Depending on the audience you target and the social media channel you use, it can be every day, or 2-3 content items a week. You should have at least one piece of content a week, no matter what channel it is.

Synchronization is that you have a unique style for your message. For example, I blog in an easy-to-understand format, some people write in a scientific style, with many proofs. YouTube has people doing role-playing vlogs, some people simply sit and talk in front of the camera, some use drawings to illustrate themselves - each person has their own style. Any style is fine, but must be in sync.

Step 5: Join relevant communities

The final step you need to take to build your personal brand is to join communities related to the topic or audience you are targeting. For example, if you target high school students, you may have to join entertainment communities. You target the moms, you need to join the community of cooking or home decoration.

When you create content, you can share it on the community that you joined. Second, by joining in communities, you will know the current trends of the audience you are targeting, thereby producing more relevant and timely content.

Here are 5 steps to help you build a better personal brand. Wish you a successful application to spread positive things to more people.

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Are You Ready for a Post-COVID Future of Work?

By Han Kok Kwang, Bestselling Author, 1st Legacy Partner Lifetime member, APCDA & 1st NCDA Master Trainer in Asia

Career Service Competencies
2d Use enterprise skills
6   Labour market information
8   Professionalism
16 Career management coaching
17 Employability skills
18 Job search skills

As career practitioners, you would have heard about the “Great Resignation” trending in the news. The “Great Resignation” conversation was started by Professor Anthony Klotz from Texas A&M University. He said that people were basically hanging on to their jobs during the pandemic. Once the economy improved, Klotz predicted a massive trend toward people quitting their jobs to find new and better ones.

Excited to join the great resignation trend? Don’t!

It’s never a good idea to quit without a job, no matter how pissed-off you are at work. You may feel euphoric “firing your boss” but the euphoria won’t last. It’ll return to haunt you, at job interviews (e.g. Why did you leave your job?) & reference checks with your ex-company.

But it’s much more than that. The Work From Home (WFH) trend over the last 18 months has built a new generation of workers who can work remotely & effectively. If you are one of those, congrats! You have more employment options than ever because you can work from anywhere.

One, you have incredible leverage. Many employees are still hoping to get back to the good old office days. To them, WFH is like a “long paid pause” doing satisficing work. But bosses are smart. They now understand the WFH game & are looking out for new talents to replace the cruisers. That’s a huge opportunity for savvy WFH workers.

Two, you have choices. You may not feel like going back to the office every day or you may discover that your values are no longer aligned with the Company. You can explore Companies who can give you what you want, be it hybrid work or values alignment.

Instead of the great resignation, calling it the great disruption is more apt. Because it applies to both employees & bosses.

Employees are awakening to new realities e.g. some companies can shut down in an instant without warning, like mass event companies, face to face services, tourism and aviation.

Employers are also awakening to a painful digital reality e.g. If you are not online, your business is not sustainable. Digital is now like electricity. You simply cannot function without it. Many business owners are not digitally savvy. That’s another huge opportunity if you are digitally savvy. Bosses will pay good money to digitalize their business, though they may not fully understand what it means.

The future job trend looks positive. As the world economy recovers from the pandemic and companies start to hire again, there will be lots of work. Just that it may not be permanent ones. They may be part-time, temporary or project based (gigs).

To thrive in the future of work, savvy career practitioners must always stay ahead of the curve. You must be updated on both the market and the gig economy, in terms of how job seekers can earn an income while looking for a job. 

CNBC (American pay television business news channel) did a survey on gigs with the highest average price on Fiverr (, an online marketplace for freelancers) in June this year. These are the findings:

  1. Presentation Design   
  2. Website Building  
  3. Website Design  
  4. Business Consulting  
  5. Social Media Manager  
  6. 3D and 2D Modeling  
  7. Web Development  
  8. Video Editor
  9. Book Cover Artist  
  10. CV, Cover Letter and Resume Writing  

Fiverr had 3.42 million active buyers from more than 160 countries in 2020. The ratio is about one in ten ends up buying, so we are talking about easily 34 million users on Fiverr. Why are these gigs hot?

“We noticed that jobs which support the growth of a business’s branding, such as social media marketing, web design, and website building were some of the side hustle services that were frequently being offered with the highest average earning potential,” a spokesperson for Canva told CNBC.

If your candidates are asking you what skills to develop for the future of work, take the cue from the comment above: work on skills that support the growth of a business in a tangible way. These could be branding, increasing market share, reducing costs or increasing sales. These skills are evergreen. If you have them, you will always be employable!

Forget the pre-pandemic days. They are gone. The earlier you get this, the faster you will go.

In this noisy economy, attention is a scarce resource. Less is more. Focus on return of action, not just doing for doing sake. A rocking chair can rock 1,000 times but it stays at the same place & makes zero progress.

This is truly an exciting time for career practitioners because we can shape the workforce of the future in our respective countries. Unemployment is often a big issue in many countries, especially for fresh graduates and late career stagers (Age 50-59).  

On my part, I’ve decided to do something about it. I’ve written a book to address this issue.  It’s called “No Job? No Sweat!” (NJNS) and I’ve developed different ways to access my new book, for readers of different generations. 

If you like to read, you can enjoy over 200 pages of action-biased content to propel you forward. If you like a quick overview, you have the one-page visual summary. If you are a video person, check out my new YouTube Channel. If you want to be part of a NJNS movement to help people thrive in the new norm, reach out to me via LinkedIn. Who knows? You may be embarking on a new and rewarding career adventure that improves lives in your country.

What you do in life echoes in eternity. If not you, who? If not now, when?

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Differentiated Career Service Delivery:
A Triage System for Career Centers

Dr. Catherine Hughes, Grow Careers; RMIT University, Australia

Career Service Competencies
2 Career Service Delivery
4 Career Development
5 Career Assessments

Many Career Practitioners and Managers of career services in settings such as schools, colleges and universities face the challenge of having too few full-time equivalent career practitioners to meet the complex career development needs of the client-group they serve. The capacity to meet the career development needs of all individuals is important, particularly in a world where individuals are required to adapt to multiple career transitions throughout life (Savickas, 2013).

The Cognitive Information Processing career theory (CIP) differentiated career service delivery model is a triage system that allocates clients to one of three levels of career service delivery based on an assessment of readiness for career problem solving and career decision making (Sampson, Reardon, Peterson, & Lenz, 2004). This model means that career centers can meet the career development needs of a more clients without over serving or under serving individual clients (Sampson, 2008).

Differentiated Career Service Model

Three levels of career service have a different intensity of career practitioner support. These are:

  1. Individual Case-Managed - individual career counselling.
  2. Brief Staff-Assisted - a career practitioner supports several clients in a classroom, workshop, group career counselling, or drop-in career advising in a career center.
  3. Self-Help – a career practitioner is available to support students if needed with the self-directed use of career resources.

Clients are allocated to an initial level of career service delivery based on their readiness for career problem solving and decision making. From a CIP perspective, there are two dimensions to readiness for career problem solving and decision:

  1. Capability for career problem solving and career decision making. Does the client know how to solve career problems and make career decisions? Is the client motivated for career problem solving and decision making?
  2. Complexity of factors or issues influencing the career problem scenario. Are there personal or contextual factors making it difficult for the client to manage career problem solving and career decision making?

The Career Thoughts Inventory (CTI; Sampson, Peterson, Lenz, Reardon, & Saunders, 1996) and the Career State Inventory (CSI; Leierer, Peterson, Reardon, & Osborn, 2020) are CIP derived instruments to measure readiness for career problem solving and career decision making. The CSI is freely available for use under Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives 4.0 license. Sampson, Peterson, Reardon, and Lenz (2000) identify several other career assessment instruments that can be used to assess client readiness for career problem solving and career decision making. In view of Savickas and Porfeli’s (2012, p. 663) assertion that “Increasing a person’s career adaptability resources, or career adapt-abilities is a central goal in career education and counseling” the Career Adapt-Ablities Scale (CAAS; Savickas, & Porfeli, 2012) is another freely available career assessment instrument suitable for assessing readiness for career decision making. The CAAS can be downloaded from

Readiness assessment results in combination with other available and relevant client information informs the initial level of career service delivery. The allocation of clients to levels of career service delivery based on readiness for career problem solving and decision making is briefly described below.

  1. Individual Case Managed Services
    Clients who are low in readiness for career problem solving and decision making are likely to benefit from intensive career practitioner support, such as individual career counseling.
  2. Brief Staff-Assisted Services
    Clients with a moderate level of career problem solving and career decision making readiness may benefit from group interventions, such as dropping in for a brief conversation with an on-duty career practitioner, group career counselling, participating in a career development workshop or career education course.
  3. Self-help Services
    Clients who are high in readiness for career problem solving and decision making usually need the least amount of career practitioner support. These clients are able to consult career resources and information they need independently or with minimal guidance from a career practitioner as and when needed. For example, a client may approach a career practitioner to help locate appropriate resources in a physical or virtual careers library, or for support in interpreting some information gained.

Some Evidence

The research into the relative effectiveness of career interventions has been well documented (Oliver & Spokane, 1988; Whiston, Li, Goodrich Mitts, & Wright, 2017; Whiston, Sexton, & Lasoff, 1998). This research has found that overall career interventions are moderately effective in enhancing outcomes such as career maturity, career decision making self-efficacy, career decidedness, or vocational identity. Individual career counseling is the most effective career intervention in the shortest amount of time, but it is also the most costly. Consequently, it is an appropriate career intervention for those who need it most, such as clients who are low in readiness for career problem solving and career decision making, i.e., those who would benefit from Individual Case Managed career services.

Osborn, Hayden, Peterson, and Sampson (2016) investigated the effect of brief staff-assisted career services on clients who dropped into a university career center seeking Brief Staff-Assisted career counselling. Participants reported increased knowledge of the next steps, increased confidence in taking the next steps and decreased anxiety about career concerns following the Brief Staff-Assisted career intervention. Effect sizes were in the moderate range for increased knowledge of next steps and increased confidence in taking next steps, but small for decreased anxiety for career concerns. Overall participants were positive about the progress they had made in the brief staff-assisted career counseling session and they were positive towards their interaction with the career practitioner.  Only 6% self-referred to Individual Case-Managed interventions, 26% reported no need for further assistance and 67% expressed a desire for additional Brief Staff-Assisted career counseling.

Kronholz (2015) reported the case of ‘Anna’. The career support for Anna began with the career practitioner identifying and confirming the appropriate level of career service. This was the self-help level of career service delivery as the interaction with Anna revealed that she appeared to be high in readiness for career problem solving and career decision making. The case study describes the interactions between the career practitioner and Anna during the self-help career advising session. The career practitioner supported Anna to independently engage in activities related to her career problem. Anna approached the career practitioner as and when needed for further clarification and support. At the end of her time in the career center, Anna reported that she gained the information she needed and was able to clearly articulate her next steps. She advised she would return to the career center if she felt the need and was thankful for the support and information she received.

Kronholz’s (2015, p 287) conclusion succinctly summarizes the value of the CIP differentiated career service delivery model comprised of three levels of career service delivery, including Individual Case-Managed, Brief Staff-Assisted and Self-help (including access to career practitioner support) career interventions: “[T]he three-tier career service delivery model … may offer an effective and flexible framework for providing proportionate support for career concerns, thereby increasing accessiblity to career services”.    


Kronholz, J. F. (2015). Self-help career services: A case report. The Career Development Quarterly, 63, 282-288. DOI: 10.1002/cdq.12019

Leierer, S. J.,  Peterson, G. W., Reardon, R. C., & Osborn, D. S. (2017). The Career State Inventory (CSI) as a measure of the career decision state and readiness for career decision making: A manual for assessment, administration, and intervention (Second Edition) (Technical Report No. 60). Retrieved from

Osborn, D. S., Hayden, S. W., Peterson, G. W., & Sampson, J. P. Jr. (2016). Effect of brief staff-assisted career service delivery on drop-in clients. The Career Development Quarterly, 64, 181-187. DOI: 10.1002/cdq.12050

Sampson, J. P., Jr., 2008). Implementing career programs: A handbook for effective practice. National Career Development Association.

Sampson, James P, Jr., Peterson, G. W., Reardon, R. C., & Lenz, J. G. (2000). Using readiness assessment to improve career services: A cognitive information-processing approach. The Career Development Quarterly, 49, 146-174.

Sampson, J. P., Jr., Peterson, G. W., Lenz, J. G., Reardon, R. C., & Saunders, D. E. (1996). Career Thoughts Inventory. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Sampson, J. P., Reardon, R. C., Peterson, G. W. & Lenz, J. G. (2004). Career counseling & services: A cognitive information processing approach. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole – Thompson Learning.

Savickas, M. L. (2013). Career construction theory and practice. In S. B. Brown & R.W. Lent (2013). Career development and counseling: Putting theory and research to work (2nd ed., pp. 147-183). Hoboken: NJ, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Savickas & Porfeli (2012). Career Adapt-Abilities Inventory: Construction, reliability, and measurement equivalence across 13 countries. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80, 661-673. DOI:10.1016/j.jvb.2012.01.011

Spokane, A. R., & Oliver, L. W. (1988). Career-intervention outcome: What contributes to client gain? Journal of Counseling Psychology, 35, 447-462.

Whiston, S. C., Li, Y., Yue Li, Goodrich Mitts, N., & Wright, L. (2017). Journal of Vocational Behavior, 100, 75-84.

Whiston, S. C., Sexton, T. L., & Lasoff, D. L. (1998). Career-intervention outcome: A replication and extension of Oliver and Spokane (1988). Journal of Counseling Psychology, 45, 150–165.

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Is It Hard to Run a Business Providing Career Services?

By Han Kok Kwang, 1st APCDALegacy Partner Lifetime member & 1st NCDA Master Trainer in Asia

APCDA Career Service Competencies:
2d - Use enterprise skills
8a - Demonstrate commitment to professionalism
8b – Develop relationships with other professionals

This is a popular question amongst my career facilitation course participants, especially those working in career centers. As smart professionals, they know that there are organizational limitations for specialists in non-profit centers. To better understand the question, let’s look at the career path of an employee in a career center. Similar to progression in most professions, it depends on the size of your organization, how good you are and how big you dream.

In a sizable organization, the typical specialist path is Career Coach (CC), Senior CC and Principal CC. Thereafter, you may get on the management path of Assistant Manager, Manager and Senior Manager, followed by Assistant Director, Deputy Director and Director. In most organizations, it’s a pyramid because there’s only one Director position at the top. In smaller set-ups, there may not be a ladder at all.

As a career professional, you must be able to “walk your talk” in terms of your own career development. If you are not progressing regularly, this could mean that your efforts are not recognized by the powers that be. Don’t beat yourself up if you are not promoted though.

The best career coach may not be the one getting promoted. It’s the same story about why good sales people usually don’t make good sales managers. Specialist and manager are dissimilar roles that require different mindsets and skills.

However, to play the career game well, know-how in stakeholder & higher-up management, and deftly navigating the political landscape are essential. If you can’t play the game well, how can you help your clients develop their career? In the heat of frustration over your stagnation, you may think that going into private practice is the best way forward. Hold that thought! Think it through carefully because it would be 10x more challenging. Going into private practice means you are starting a business. This means you must have a pipeline of clients who’ll pay you for your career services, something often taken for granted by an employee working in a career center.

In a career center, clients come to you. In private practice, clients don’t turn up magically. You have to acquire them, which involves a whole different ballgame called marketing and business development. This is the Achilles heel of many career professionals, who may be brilliant at coaching but not so adept at selling.

Reality check: If your career service business is not profitable, it is not a business. It is a hobby. I’ve seen many career coaches going back to the employee route after they find the going too tough on their own. By now, you would have realized that the same skills that gets you promoted in organizations are the same ones that help you do well on your own.

Having been in private practice for over 20 years, these are some things that I’ve learnt.

1.  To succeed in business, think and act like a business person.

Most career professionals are caring, empathetic and generous individuals. Many are also more introverted. These qualities make it difficult for them to think like a business person, because they find it extremely hard to sell and to ask for the order. It’s a very steep learning curve. When you are on your own, you wake up jobless every day. A smart way to embrace this mindset is to have a business coach, or to model those “who’ve been there, done that”.

2.  Know your business model i.e. how do you make money?

You may enjoy one-to-one coaching but it does not make “business sense”. In theory, you can coach 4 clients a day and thus, 20 a week. In a month, that will be 80 sessions. At $100 a session, that is a worthy $8,000 a month! Reality check: you will likely get only a fraction of that, because you have to acquire the clients first. And client acquisition is a daily activity. Unless you are well known in your domain, it is extremely time-consuming and tiring. 

Now you understand why coaches sell packages (e.g. 5 session package) instead of a single session. To clock in 80 sessions, which is “easier to sell”:  80 single sessions or 16 packages? The answer is obvious. To jumpstart your venture, join a career services company and learn the ropes. This is a win-win because you get to learn from the successful ones. You also find out if you have what it takes to fly solo. It’s back to basics: If you’ve done well as an employee, chances are higher that you’ll do well on your own.

3.  Be known in the market i.e.. build your reputation.

In a super-competitive world, invest time and effort to develop your reputation. There are many brands but only one reputation, yours. That is the best social proof for you to stand out because everyone loves a winner with a proven track record.

These are 10 ways to build your reputation and be more visible in the marketplace. Don’t try to do all of them. You’ll be overwhelmed. Pick one or two and do them really well. You will be streets ahead of the competition.

  1. Create your own products
  2. Networking (Connecting to build relationships)
  3. Volunteer work
  4. Write a book
  5. Website
  6. Word of mouth referral
  7. 3rd party endorsements
  8. Referrals
  9. Teaching
  10. Alliances

If you are an “unknown”, the perceived risk of buying from you is too high. Strive to be a “known brand” by leveraging on other strong brands. Clients must buy you first, before you buy from you.

4.  Focus on ROA (Return on Activity)

When you are on your own, you are accountable for your income. There’s no automatic salary credit on payday. You alone decide your payday. No business, no pay. Understand this before you venture out, because failure is not an option without a safety net. You may enjoy posting on social media or the camaraderie in voluntary work. Now you must make them count. Activities must be prioritized based on their returns. Thank you, comments and likes won’t pay the bills! Focus on what works, especially in activities serving paying clients.

5.  Stay connected to stay sane

When you are on your own, no one will care or expect something of you if you don’t show up. According to Susan J Ashford from Harvard University, gig economy players look for these 4 connections to replace what an employer traditionally provides, namely:

  1. Connection to people
    Successful Gig Pros build routine contact with other humans into their day. It could be a client, colleague, or even a spouse–but most people need someone to talk with routinely who reassures them on a bad day and reminds them that what they’re doing is important. “It’s someone who encourages them to be bold, to go further,” says Ashford. “If they didn’t have them, they would be lost.”
  2. Connection to place
    Successful people who don’t go to an office are often thinking about their work and how they set it up. Ashford interviewed an independent software developer who described his work world as a “battle” to get clients and get paid. It’s all about finding what works for you. A writer worked in a six-by-eight-foot shack on his property. “Any bigger and I lose focus. I need a small space to keep me contained,” he says.
  3. Connection to routines
    Gig Pros also create routines that help them transition between home and professional life. “Many told me they get up every day, shower, pray, make coffee, and then go into their office,” says Ashford. “Then they have a routine for transitioning back to family life at the end of the day. ”Patterns are important for everyone, but especially those who have autonomy. “Routines are the wardens of accomplishment,” says Ashford.
  4. Connection to purpose
    The final thing that helped Gig Pros thrive is having an underlying purpose. “Purpose gives you resilience for the ups and downs,” says Ashford. Having a clearly defined goal can help you decide what jobs to take–and which ones to skip. For example, one filmmaker Ashford studied chooses to make movies that support women. “If she got other pitches, having a purpose made it easy for her to say ‘no,'” says Ashford.

These four types of connections are crucial, Ashford believes. “Missing one or two can cause anxiety and an inability to stay focused on doing the work. The four connections are necessary for staying productive when no one is telling you what to do.”

However, once you are connected, you need to make a living without a job. To do that, you must solve problems that people are willing to pay for. Despite the importance of career services to individuals, no one pays for career coaching. They pay for a bigger job, a higher pay and a better future. If you get this, you are ready to explore a career service business. Feel free to reach out to me if you feel I can be of assistance. All the best!

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3 Must-Use Services for Small Businesses

by Lucy Reed

APCDA Career Service Competencies
2d - Use enterprise skills
8b - Develop relationships with other professionals
15b - Keep-up-to-date with emerging technologies and innovations

Online services offer small businesses a way to improve customer satisfaction, increase engagement, and streamline operations. Even in the current world of the pandemic, small businesses have countless opportunities to improve their standing and strengthen their bottom line. In short, we are looking beyond: to a post-pandemic economy and a bright future. There are services and tools that can help small businesses achieve that goal. Let’s take a look at the top three must-use services that can positively impact a small business’s numbers:

Photo by Dominika Roseclay from Pexels

Business Services and Tools

“Business services” can refer to a suite of management services and tools that allow businesses to get closer to the customer, provide better interactions, and generally improve engagement throughout the entire product lifecycle. These can include things like online business formation services, virtual assistant services, or tax preparation services.

There are Customer relationship management (CRM) tools, for instance, that are key to any company’s success. CRMs have been proven to help improve customer satisfaction in leaps and bounds. A CRM is used to track a customer all the way through the lifecycle — from when the customer first comes in contact with the business until they have purchased a product and beyond. The more reliable your CRM tools, the happier your customers will be, which means you will retain your business. You will be able to tell at what point in the selling process a particular customer (or customer demographic) is in, what their pain points are, and how best to get them to close the deal.

Marketing Services

Online marketing services opportunities offer small businesses a chance to get their name out in front of more potential customers. A social media consultant, for instance, will play an important role in getting information about your company in front of people — but they can also provide a way for you to get your finger on the pulse of your community.

For instance, a functional and attractive website can be a powerful tool to grow your business and sell your products to a wider range of customers. The U.S. Small Business Association reported that only 64 percent of small businesses had a website, which means they are missing out on what could be a huge opportunity.

You can save money on your website development project by using a website builder. A lot of sites offer a drag-and-drop interface where you can insert content, create blogs, display images, and connect your social media profiles. It’s a convenient and inexpensive way to provide information to your customers when they look for you on the internet, which they inevitably will.

Design Services

Hand-in-hand with marketing services are design services. Organizations can improve their visibility online with a bright, fresh, and well-designed logo and website. Freelance design services are a great way to achieve that. You can save a significant amount of money by hiring freelance designers from online job boards instead of hiring one as a full-time employee, especially if you don’t anticipate needing constant design jobs.

Bonus Tip: Connect with your community

The biggest, most important function of the internet is to bring people together. The connections you make, especially to groups of people who are of similar mind and have similar goals, are integral to small businesses. Resources like the Asia Pacific Career Development Association showcase expertise, career development opportunities, and important information. Join APCDA today!

Lucy Reed created GigMine because she was inspired by the growth of the sharing economy and wanted to make it easier for entrepreneurial individuals like herself to find the gig opportunities in their areas. Find Gig Mine here.

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Self-Care Methods for Helpers

By Tuan Anh Le

APCDA Career Service Competencies
8 Professionalism: 8a – Demonstrate commitment to professionalism

Career counseling is a helping profession. There are also a lot of helping jobs such as psychological counseling, coaching, doctors, teachers, and so on. From my personal observations, I see that people doing these jobs are very good at helping others, but sometimes they "forget" to take care of themselves, specifically in terms of physical and mental health. 

I observed friends in the helping professions and found they get many diseases such as stomach pain (maybe due to skipping meals), wrist pain, back pain (maybe from sitting too much), eye pain (possibly due to long screen viewing), and some other minor ailments.

There are many reasons for 'forgetting to take care of yourself' such as being too busy, too lazy, too tired. Tuan Anh personally thinks that, if you want to help more people, you must have good mental and physical health. If these two things are good, you will have more positive energy to meet customers as well as work longer.

So what can you do to improve your physical and mental health?

1. Periodic check-up

A car that wants to run well needs monthly or yearly maintenance. An individual who wants to be in good physical and mental health should start with regular checkups, perhaps every 6 months.

In terms of physical health, you can schedule a check-up at the hospital or medical practice. You will know the indicators of blood, urine, heart, and bone health to detect existing diseases or prevent upcoming diseases. In addition, you can register to measure muscle and fat with the InBody meter to know about these indicators. Question for you: when was the last time you had a health check-up?

In terms of mental health, it's a good idea to see a health professional such as a psychologist, doctor or other mental health professional. Don't wait until you're too stressed to seek support for your mental health. In work and personal life, we always have potential indicators of stress and need to be released (sometimes it is not suitable to tell our relatives). So, meeting a psychologist or other relevant health professional early and periodically is a way to prevent stress from building up. If you don't want to see a psychologist or other health professional, you can form a group of helpers and periodically practice non-judgmental listening.

2. There is a time to put work aside

Putting work aside for a while is how you find balance in your life. Balance work and play, give and take, get things done and do nothing.

When you put work aside, whether it's for 15 minutes a day or an hour, practice doing a few small things for yourself like drinking enough water, eating the right nutrition, moving, and exercising. Some extra things you can do include going for a walk, journaling, practicing meditation, spending some time playing with your dog, or simply looking up at the sky. Instead of sitting and working continuously for many hours on the computer to take notes or study, every 30 minutes you should stop for 5 minutes, get up, stretch your legs, stretch your arms, pour a glass of water, or look away to relieve eye fatigue. The Headspace app ( is suitable for you to practice meditation and the 7 Minutes app will help you do short exercises.

Also, as a counselor, setting appropriate boundaries is also important in taking care of yourself. When you first start working as a consultant, you may be eager to get help outside of office hours, ready to respond to messages in the middle of the night – such things are the enemy of health in the long run.

3. Practice meditation

Research shows that meditation not only brings calm, but also helps reduce anxiety and depression, cancer, chronic pain, asthma, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

To get started, you just need to spend a few minutes a day. Then you can increase it to 10, 20, or 30 minutes. You can learn about meditation in books, the Internet, or courses. You can find one of many meditation options in books or CDs, online, or in a class.

Types of meditation:

  • Deep breath. Sit or lie down comfortably. Place your hand on your stomach. Slowly count to four while inhaling through the nose. Feel your belly swell. Hold your breath for a second. Slowly count to four while you exhale, preferably pursed lips to control breathing. Your belly will drop down slowly. Repeat a few times.
  • Mindfulness Meditation. Focus on your breath. Notice anything that passes through your awareness without judgment. If your mind starts to tackle your to-do list, simply return to focusing on your breathing.
  • Visualization. Close your eyes, relax and imagine a peaceful place, like a forest. Engage your senses: Hear the rustle of leaves, smell the moist earth, feel the gentle breeze.
  • Repeat a spell over and over. Sit quietly and choose any words, phrases, or sounds that are meaningful and soothing. You can repeat the spell aloud or silently. Experts say this repetition creates a physical relaxation response.
  • Engage in a form of meditative exercise. Try tai chi or qigong, using gentle, fluid movements.

Mr. Tuan Anh Le is one of the first-generation career professionals in Vietnam. He is the author of 3 bestselling books on career and personal development topics. His strength is to use social media to interact and convey career messages to students. He currently manages the community of more than 100,000 vocational students on Facebook.

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Your Brain on Zoom:
5 Tactics for Better Brain Health

By Brian Hutchison, PhD aka Global Career Guy

Our brains are constantly processing information, every minute of every day of our lives. Being social creatures, when we are awake our unconscious brains constantly process information about others including voice inflection, micro facial expressions, and body language. We naturally mirror one other based on the signals our brains receive from these observations.

These phenomena are so deeply ingrained in our brain’s design that some interesting things can happen. For example, have you ever heard that couples that stay together a long time start to look like one another? One reason this is true is that their facial muscles mirror one another so much over time that these couples tend to get wrinkles in the same parts of their face!

Speaking of wrinkles, let’s take this connection the opposite direction. Studies show that a side effect of Botox treatments to one’s face (this procedure is intended to weaken facial muscles so as to prevent wrinkles) is less empathy (Neal & Chartrand, 2011; Eagleman, 2015). The hypothesis here is that the lack of mirroring in our own facial movements means there are fewer, less accurate signals to the brain resulting in poor recognition of others’ emotional states.

These stories exemplify some of the current research questions around Zoom’s effects on our bodies and our brains (i.e., Zoom fatigue). While the science is in its early stages (and is asking other questions such as how eye contact impacts our brains), I am going to offer 5 tactics you might employ to be kind to your brain while Zooming today and into the future.

  1. Hide your self view. What is the longest you ever looked into a mirror? When we can see ourselves on the screen, research shows that we spend 50% or more of our time looking at ourselves according to Dr. Jeff Hancock of Stanford University’s Social Media Lab. This is very taxing on our brains. The easy fix is to Hide Self View (in Zoom) or tape post it notes over your video box when you cannot hide the view (such as in Microsoft Teams).
  2. Embrace Interruption. As social creatures, we are built to avoid social shame. If we are metacognitively worried during meetings that our children, dogs, roommates, or others might interrupt, we are creating a cognitive load on our brains. The easy fix is for all meeting leaders to immediately set positive interruption norms. This begins with a norm statement at the beginning of the meeting (e.g., “I know we might get interrupted during the meeting and this is completely acceptable. If someone comes on the screen, we can all say hi – including pets- and if you need to attend to something just close your video/ audio and take care of busines.”). Now, the real test is how the leader reacts when first interrupted. My approach is applause, greetings, and enthusiasm ;-)
  3. Hands off the mute button. One brain process that seems to facilitate engagement is self-monitoring within conversations. This process includes listening to others, waiting to speak, and gauging when it is appropriate to participate. None of this can happen if everyone is muted AND you will find less participation in both quantity and quality when that mute button is selected. The easy fix is to ask all participates to stay off mute unless there is background noise in groups of 20 or less (in my experience).
  4. Ground yourselves. When speaking of electricity, to ground is to provide an avenue to discharge energy. I try to begin each meeting with a mindfulness based “presence technique.” This helps us remind our bodies and our brains that we are in a physical place with environmental stimuli. The easy fix is to use a technique to do this based on mindfulness. I developed my own called 3-2-1 D to P which I am happy to share if you email me.
  5. Group up in groups. No matter the techniques we use, we cannot replace the small micro-interactions that occur as we walk in hallways, settle into our chairs in conference rooms, or run into one another in the elevator. Research suggests that these micro-interactions are super important for our day-to-day well-being; they are sort of the oil for the mechanisms of our social brains.  The easy fix is to do loosely structured break out groups in your meetings for a short period of time where the sub groups are randomly assigned. I have used topics such as the best meal you had this week or your latest Netflix binge.

Our brains were designed by the adaptive process of evolution. This has primed us to be able to help our brains adapt in the online environment. Thank goodness we can, because we don’t have time to wait for evolution!

Dr. Brian Hutchison, PhD, a.k.a. Global Career Guy is an academic, author, counselor, trainer, clinical supervisor, and speaker who focuses on how work and career development impact mental health, well-being, school engagement, and social justice. Follow him at and contact him at

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How to be a Social Media Ninja!

By Han Kok Kwang, 1st Legacy Partner Lifetime member, APCDA

APCDA Career Services Competencies
15b. Keep up-to-date with emerging technologies and innovations
18. Job Search Skills

Social media is the norm today, as seen in the billions of people on it. As career professionals, whatever our stance on social media, we must find common ground with the people we wish to serve before we can connect with them, and build trust with them. Though it may be an addictive echo chamber, social media is a fast and simple way to feel the pulse of the masses.

At the time of writing, the top 8 social media sites in 2021 are:

  1. Facebook
  2. Instagram
  3. TikTok
  4. Pinterest
  5. Reddit
  6. Twitter
  7. LinkedIn
  8. Snapchat

Did you know that 60% of social media users are on Facebook? Facebook has more than 2.7 billion monthly users, most of whom are there for social networking. Twitter is a good platform for establishing thought leadership in 140 characters if you tweet regularly, but they only have 192 million members, a mere 7% of Facebook’s reach.

I’ll focus on LinkedIn for this article because it is the #1 professional networking site in the world. To find out the extent of career professionals’ participation on LinkedIn, I typed ‘Career Coach” and “Career Professional” in the search bar. The first term returned 958,000 results while the second returned 6,040,000 results.

The numbers looked good, until you realised there are more than 740 million professionals on LinkedIn. This meant less than 1% of career professionals are on LinkedIn.  That’s a huge opportunity lost because there are 350 million active monthly users on LinkedIn!

What are the implications?

  1. Career Professionals don’t walk their talk?
    I tell candidates, clients and students to get on LinkedIn but I don’t do it myself.
  2. Career Professionals value their privacy too much?
    I took pains to set up a complete LinkedIn profile but then leave it there as a lifeless brochure with no updates and activities. You can tell when was my last activity by simply looking at the activity tab on my profile.
  3. Career Professionals are not social media savvy?
    I didn’t know that I can measure my “visibility on LinkedIn” via the Social Selling Index (SSI) score, which measures 4 pillars:
    • Establishing your professional brand
    • Finding the right people
    • Engaging with insights
    • Building relationships
    And the SSI score is usually a good indication of your social success.

Before we go further, let’s look at ”why career professionals should be on social media?”. 

Simple. We are in the “people” business. Some say we are in the “helping” business. Most people are on social media. Therefore, it’s only logical that we should be on social media, so that we can do what we do best: to guide more people in making informed career choices.

But if you are new to social media, it’s hard. It’s scary. I know. I recalled my first encounter with social media in 2017 at a training seminar. The Trainer wanted us to promote his seminar on the spot by sharing the event on Facebook using our smart phone, with a hashtag on his program. In return, he would ethically bribe us with a free online training program. I have no clue what he was talking about!

Though I started exploring social media then, it took me a very long time to publish my first post, because I wanted it to be perfect! After posting, I couldn’t stop checking my post. Having heard so many horror stories about social media, I worry about negative comments, all the “what ifs”, whether I’ll be flamed or if haters will have me as target practice.

The problem?

I was too me-focused and too conscious of the imposter syndrome. ie. “Who am I to share my views?” Actually, almost 70% of us suffer from “imposter syndrome,” the feeling of being a fraud, according to the International Journal of Behavioral Science. Rest easy. You are not alone. It also doesn’t hurt to develop a healthy self-esteem (eg. I’m fine the way I am) and thick skin (eg. If you don’t like my post, don’t read it. I’m writing for myself and for people who support me, so go get a life) before you hop on social media.

How did I overcome this fear?

I rationalized to myself that if I can’t do it myself, I can’t tell my candidates to do it. To make sure I overcome my fear, I signed up for a 100-day FB Challenge with an accountability partner. The Challenge? Publish a post every day on Facebook for 100 days without any break or pay a severe penalty. It was brutal for a newbie and I really struggled. But the pain of the penalty was greater than the fear of posting. So I dug in and post every day, rain or shine, good mood or no mood.

How did I do? I completed the Challenge in 66 days. Posting has been a breeze ever since.  

To master social media, first understand how it works, ie. the technology behind it. To get a better understanding of how algorithms are running our lives on social media, go check out “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix, a 2020 American documentary that goes into depth on how social media's design is meant to nurture an addiction, manipulate people and governments, and spread conspiracy theories and disinformation. After that, you will never look at social media the same way again.

There are 3 ways to manage social media: talk about it, do it or work it. Talk meant you know and can say a lot but you don’t even have a profile on LinkedIn. Those who do it may set up a complete all-star profile but thereafter, they simply leave it there to rust.

To get the best results, you have to work it every day. That is why you must know your purpose in going onto social media, whether to build a personal brand, build a tribe or be a thought leader. You can find out more by simply googling the right keywords or checking out the resources at the end.

The formula to stand out on social media is simple: 1-9-90. 1% of users create content (posts or videos), 9% comment, like or share, and 90% are the silent observers. To do well, treat social media like a game. All you need is to log in every day and spend 15 minutes doing the essentials. Check out the resources at the end for more information. By logging in daily, the algorithms recognized you and it will reward you by showing your profile to more people. The more exposure you get, the more connections you’ll make, and that’s when your network explodes! It’s always better to go for quality than quantity, and developing criteria to screen potential invitation to connect is useful (eg. Has a decent headshot, minimum 200 connections, can add value mutually, not a fake profile etc…).

Don’t worry if you’ve accepted a connection invite and then they start to act weird or spam you. Simply go to their profile, click on “more” and unconnect with them. LinkedIn won’t tell them.  

LinkedIn is the favorite platform for HR and recruiters to find passive candidates but according to Glassdoor, it's become so crowded with recruiters that it's now quite difficult to find passive candidates. It may be time to explore other social recruiting strategies so that you can better guide your candidates.

  • Twitter: Recruiters use Twitter's advanced search functionality to look for profiles that use industry-related keywords and hashtags. They refine their search based on location and other important criteria. For instance,  they're hiring for a sales position, so they search Twitter for specific sales-related keywords within the client company's region. With luck, they may find a sales person that tweets quality content regularly for their company. That’s a good lead to follow up with.
  • Facebook: Recruiters sometimes use Facebook's targeted search capabilities to find high-quality passive candidates. They may send an outreach message via Facebook rather than LinkedIn. Candidates don't typically receive Facebook messages from recruiters, so out of curiosity, they may respond. Share this with your candidates so that they can become smarter job seekers.
  • Newer platforms: You may be familiar with social platforms like Snapchat and Instagram. Recruiters these days are creative and they can create a sponsored Snapchat or Instagram story that showcases their client company culture and catches the attention of a passive candidate.

Remember, just because you've never done something before doesn't mean it won't be effective. As the algorithms get smarter, we have to keep pace so that we won’t become clueless addicts on social media.

Happy posting!


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Important Mind-sets for Successful Career Transition during Vulnerable Periods

By Heather Ko

Career coaching is a professional process that helps people who are preparing their career paths or planning changes in careers so that they can reach the goals they want to achieve from their current positions. Though coaches do their best for clients’ successful career changes, various obstacles hinder fruitful coaching processes due to complicated and various circumstances surrounding adult careers. If a client is in a vulnerable condition, the difficulty of career coaching will become greater because clients going through vulnerable periods tend to try to find the reasons for their situations from easily understandable causes, but not from the underlying ones.  Therefore, it would be meaningful to look at some key mind-sets necessary for successful career transitions of adults.

First, break the fixed idea

He who was a regular worker at the previous company had a strong reluctance to join a new company on a contract basis. There was only one reason. It was that contract workers were often seen as less capable people than regular workers in Korea. He couldn’t hide his anxiety at the thought that transition to a full-time job would be difficult in the future. “What’s more important to your career than people’s view on the contract worker?” When asked by the coach, the client said that his next step is more important than other people’s opinions. Another question followed. ”What is the difference between your current competencies in a contract job compared to when you were a full-time employee?” He explained that he had grown up through the transition because he developed competencies that looked weak previously. In fact, he got this contract work position with a higher salary. After the session, he is more focused on preparing his next movement rather than social reputations. Similar cases can be found easily from those who are in their career transitions. They often hesitate to make an inevitable step because of social stereotypes. They need to draw their focuses to designing and branding their careers rather than common norms.

Second, seek performance rather than ability

A client had received an official suggestion to resign. His boss said it was up to his decision but it was no different from a dismissal. What he struggled with the most was that he didn’t know why. He was not able to understand why he was selected. ”When was the most difficult moment in your company life?” The client was unable to find where to start because he was not sure. He thought he had worked hard every moment and done his best but his works seemed to be somehow unrecognized. ”What needs to be improved to get the recognition you expect?” With the progress of coaching under this agenda, he discovered that his efforts and abilities hadn’t led to meaningful results. One of the important things when developing a career is finding and strengthening the ability to produce the necessary results in any business settings. The client found his own solution after analyzing himself.

Third, approach with a long-term perspective

One of my clients gave birth to two children and had stopped working for about four years. She missed the days when she was actively working before childbirth. However, she cannot see herself working again because she had been away from work for a long time. This concern was even gnawing away her self-confidence. “Do you have any skills or abilities you have been developing for the last years so that you can adapt yourself to changes of your business field?” Based on this question, she started to prioritize goals required for her to return to work. She began to be able to see the time schedule to arrive at her final goal, reemployment, after putting away worries about her career break. Career development is the step-by-step building-up throughout the whole life. When you think it is late, it is the right time to start looking at the rest of your life. Opportunities can come again at any time only to those who are prepared.

Fourth, enhance self-coach

There are many reasons for changing jobs or even careers. Clients looking for a coach have diverse backgrounds and characters. As a result, a career coaching is to be customized to each client to draw up the clear goal which the client really wants and the feasible roadmap for it. This is possible only when the client is able to look into himself or herself accurately and therefore a well-established self-coach of each client is essential. One such client was an engineer expecting to become a middle manager in her department. However, recently she started considering a job change. The reason was that she felt she was not growing up after getting used to her current works while other people of her age were running for their dreams. She wanted to make another challenge before she got older. However, it was a risky movement because she did not have a picture of what change she really wanted and what she was trying to achieve through that change. Therefore it was necessary to train her self-coach to look at herself objectively and to parse accurately the reason of her dissatisfaction with her current career. A well-established self-coach leads to self-leadership and self-control which help a client avoid impulsive decision-making.

We live in an era of rapid change. Moreover, its changing speed became faster under the unexpected pandemic world. Accordingly, many people could not help facing career transitions while experiencing vulnerable periods. Career coaching can be one of the best ways which those in this condition can progress. If a client is not bound by a fixed idea of society and keeps an attitude focused on performance rather than ability itself with the long-term perspective, the client can make a successful career transition more easily. The healthy self-coach inside the client will be of great help throughout this process. Career is not the simple combination of job positions. It is the fruit of a person’s whole life showing the identity of that person. Therefore, you would be able to prepare the future you want by identifying yourself through career coaching.

Heather Ko ( is the Professional Coach of the coaching company she founded with the motto: Everyone is a Coach. She is also a board member of the Career Consultant Forum in Korea. She studied finance at the Business School of Seoul National University and business coaching at the United Graduate School of Theology of Yonsei University. Based on her rich experiences from more than 2000-hour coaching sessions, she is currently active in various coaching areas such as leadership, career and life. She introduced 'Coaching for Leadership' edited by Marshall Goldsmith et. al. to Korean readers.

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Career Services for Young Adults in Transition

By Simon Lee

APCDA Career Service Competencies
1a Establish and maintain rapport
2c Use coaching and consulting skills
3 Individual and group counseling skills
4b Apply career development theories, concepts, research and associated models and frameworks to practice
5b Use career assessments with clients
6a Find, understand and apply credible, reliable labor market information that is free of bias
8b Develop relationships with other professionals
16 Career management coaching

Adolescence is the time to establish one's identity and to identify one's interests, personality, abilities, aptitude, and values. Such identification is critically fundamental to one’s career decision. At this critical time in making career decisions, adolescents are shown to want help from their parents in career development (Kotrlik & Harrison, 1989), and parents also want to help their children (Oto, 1984).

Therefore, relationships with parents help improve career identity as well as career decisions. A positive relationship with parents is a critical factor in determining what one wants as a life-long occupation. Some scholars suggest that negative relationships with their parents can confuse career decisions, confirming that relationships with parents are important for career identity development.  According to studies conducted in Korea, parents' influence on career decisions combined is 38.4%, the highest as a single factor. There will be differences in degree, but this would be similar in many other countries

As such, the influence of parents on career decisions is very high. Therefore, in career coaching, reflecting the opinions of the parents in the career decision is crucial to successful outcomes, and I would like to share two cases, where parental opinions were successfully reflected.  


Lee comes from a family of legal professionals.  Starting from his grandfather who retired as a judge, there are many judges and lawyers amongst his extended family.  His father is a lawyer, specializes in corporate laws, and his mother is a patent attorney. Being the only son, it was expected that Lee carries the family tradition and pursues the legal profession.

Lee, on the other hand, was interested in the entertainment business. He followed K-pop. He ate, slept, and breathed K-pop. It led to confrontations with his parents – he even ran away from home for a couple of weeks with dancer friends – but Lee realized that he was in a battle that he cannot win.  He settled in, studied, and made to a college majoring in law.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before he was back, snooping around the K-pop industry. And, it was when I met Lee and his parents.

On my first session, it was clear that Lee was not an artist, and he knew it himself.  He wanted to be in the K-pop industry but he did not know what he can do.  And, he was frustrated.

Occupation interest inventories revealed that his interest matched lawyers but the challenge was how to connect the legal profession with K-pop.  I met several people in the industry and learned that the burgeoning K-pop industry lacked lawyers specialized in the entertainment business.  Interviews were organized for Lee to meet the industry people who emphasized to him that industry specialized lawyers would be in demand as the industry grows.  Through his parents, meetings with legal professions were organized to share the future of the industry specialized lawyers.

It worked.  Lee was back to college, finished his degree, was admitted to a prestigious law school in the US, and I hear he has recently passed the Bar exam in the US.


Oh decided to take a gap year after his high school.  The problem was that he did not discuss it with his parents.  He just did not show up for the college entrance exam and informed his decision that night.

His mom approached me for career coaching for Oh.  She seemed desperate.  She explained what happened on the day of the college entrance exam, and she was worried sick that Oh was doing nothing but watching movies and that he was talking about studying film. His father was a reputable CPA and wanted Oh to follow his career.

Oh was a quiet young man, who would not want to make eye contact.  His answers were short and dry.  However, his eyes started to come alive when I brought up topics on films.  We talked quite a bit about films, and I became convinced with his passion for the film industry when Oh talked about a film titled Citizen Zane.  It is a 1941 film and I did not expect someone his age to talk about such an old movie.

Consequent sessions revealed that his passion was not on the technical nor artistic aspects of the films but the business aspect of the films.  It was intriguing how this young man was able to explain the success factors behind many successful movies from a business perspective.

I talked to Oh’s father about my findings on Oh, and we discussed how we can connect Oh’s passion to occupations related to accounting.  Oh’s occupation interest inventories suggest financial specialists as one of the occupations, and I started looking at the film industry from the finance perspective. Then, I came to realize the importance of production financial analysis and planning in the film industry.

I discussed the findings with Oh.  I met with Oh and his father.  Compromises were made so that Oh studied finance and aimed for CFA, while his father expanded his business to encompass financial services.

Oh’s mother called not long ago, thanking me how things have changed.  Oh and his father get along much better, and she is so much relieved from the tensions that the son and father used to have.

Simon D. Lee, FCDi, GCDF. has handled more than 2,000 cases in career coaching. He is a Facilitating Career Development Instructor (NCDA, US) and a Global Career Development Facilitator (CCE, US). He is also Certified Coach from the Korea Association of Coaching. In addition, he is currently the Carrot Global Inc. Executive Director for Global Competency R &D and Global Business. Carrot Global Inc. is a dynamic and practical learning solutions provider selected as global partner by more than 500 enterprises. In addition, he is an experienced Consulting Career Coach in Crimson Education Korea, a Professor in GAC Center, Hanyang University Korean. He has also been a Director for Asia Business Development in Masonite Inc. and a Strategic Marketing Manager for Microsoft.

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Career Counselling with Life Design in a Collectivist Cultural Context

by Aparna Bhalla, 2021 APCDA Conference Scholar

APCDA Career Services Competencies
1. Communication and interpersonal skills
3. Individual and group career counselling skills
4. Career development
7. Apply the APCDA Code of Ethics - E Responsibilities to theory and research
9. Performance improvement and lifelong learning
11. Research
13b Conduct career development work in culturally

This summary is based on the article ‘’Career counselling with life design in a collectivist cultural context: An action research study’’ (Bhalla & Frigerio, 2020, p. 68) published in the Journal of National Institute for Career Education and Counseling (NICEC). The main aim of this action-research project was to explore the application of a US originated counselling approach i.e., Life-Design Career Counseling (LDC) with two mid-career professionals in India.

The research questions were derived from the aim and purpose of the study and framed to follow the Action Research (AR) cycle of plan-act-review-to plan again. These are: (RQ1) How can I conduct a successful life-design career counselling intervention? (RQ2) What are the strengths and weaknesses of the session? (RQ3) What are the recommendations for my services? Data consisted of client responses to lifeline activity, a career construction interview, and semi-structured feedback interviews.

Participants consisted of Jane (female 24 years old) who was managing her forty-year-old family-owned retail business of sports equipment. She enjoyed creative writing and sought to clarify whether she should pursue what she is ‘good at professionally’ or what she ‘enjoyed personally.’ Drew (male 25-year-old) was a culinary professional, who left his last role as head-chef due to dissatisfaction with the environment and supervisor. Drew had a history of not enjoying studies unless they ‘made sense, were logical and had practical application.’ Both participants were contemplating an international masters and sought clarity on their specialization.

The following four steps conducted over two client meetings constituted the response to RQ1.

  1. Introduction to the nature and purpose of this study followed by the opening question of the Career Construction Interview (CCI).
  2. Lifeline Activity to ascertain the life-theme from client’s life story followed by the remainder of the CCI.
  3. Between the two meetings, the life-portrait was constructed using a staged process (Savickas 2011, 2015a) (Maree 2013).
  4. Discussion on the life-portrait and redressal of client’s beliefs. After confirming achievement of mutually agreed counselling goals, each client wrote a mission statement or success formula. The intervention was concluded by conducting a semi-structured feedback interview.

For RQ2, the data was explored to assess the strengths and weaknesses of LDC with Indian clients. For RQ3, the inferences drawn from the first two questions were examined to make recommendations for practice. After completion of all three stages with the first client the entire cycle was repeated for the second client. Multiple frameworks were utilized for evaluation (Table 2). However, due to space constraints the triadic lens comprising of LDC’s key components are used here to summarize evaluation and to make recommendations for practice.

Table 2: Details of the Interpretive Framework
Analysis Phase Focus Area The Multiple Lenses Utilized for Data Analysis Answers
Research Question (RQ)
Stage 1 LDC Outcome Client*
Autobiographical/ Practitioner
Life-Design Counseling (Goals)
Additional Career Theories i.e. Holland, Law & Krumboltz
RQ 1
Stage 2 LDC Process (4 stages) Construction
RQ 2
Stage 3 LDC Key Components Relationship
RQ 3

* Adapted from Brookfield’s (2017) four lens reflective model


LDC’s key components are relationship, reflection and sense-making. A collaborative relationship provides a safe space and holding environment wherein counselors prompt self-reflection and sense-making to produce intentionality. Several instances during Jane and Drew’s LDC interventions pointed towards the requirement for a stronger working alliance. This included Drew’s withdrawing from the psychodynamic approach of LDC. Also, while the lifeline exercise elicited a rich transition narrative, further scope for reflection was identified. Moreover, it was found that the knowledge of the participant’s culture significantly contributes to the success of LDC and low self-esteem is a common issue amongst Asian contexts. At the end of their respective interventions, both clients stated that they knew the answer to their transition query. This is a key principle of LDC which was explained to both clients - the solution lies within them. While Jane acknowledged the role of LDC, Drew nonchalantly stated that he knew everything beforehand.

Evaluation from the lens of other career theories facilitated the critical adaptation of LDC. This assessment was utilized to elaborate recommendations for practice.

Recommendations for Practice

A strong working alliance (relationship) creates the foundation for an effective counselling intervention. This is established by eliciting emotions and offering comfort (Savickas 2011). But in India, not everyone is comfortable articulating emotions. Therefore, while screening and contracting, clients need to be informed that to draw maximum benefit from LDC, they should be willing to engage with their emotions.

To enhance shared construction by client and counselor, scope for further client reflection and self-examination was identified. Maree (2013) recommends that counselors repeatedly read client responses back to them and request clients to authorize and validate (or invalidate) the counselor’s understanding. When clients believe that they are being heard and feel validated, they reflect more deeply on their career narratives. In this manner, validity, credibility and trustworthiness can be established to further strengthen the working alliance and facilitate sense-making.

Comprehension of client’s own narrative identities emerges from dialogue, not insight (Savickas 2011). Therefore, through effective dialogue the counselor needs to ‘induce’ a concrete experience (Kolb 1984). Only if the experience is ‘sufficiently concrete will it be suitable for ‘construction,’ or bring forth the client’s thoughts, beliefs and emotions for reflective self-examination and deconstruction in the subsequent stage. This leads to another important aspect to be considered while setting client expectations and prompting reflection i.e. having confidence in the concept of ‘bricolage.’

Savickas (2015b) describes bricolage as constructing something new from whatever is at hand. As practitioners prompt reflection through CCI, they should further inquire about the cultural plots and metaphors the client has used to articulate his or her most profound concerns and fundamental truths. These elements work as source material for biographical bricolage wherein, the counselor engages the client in a dialogue with these sources of their own self, to rearrange them and direct client decision making. The lifeline activity provides wider scope for biographical bricolage and should be utilized intelligently. Thoughtful questioning by the counselor will facilitate reflection and self-awareness, while CCI and lifeline will represent the scaffolding for self-assembly and reassembly (Savickas 2015b).

After building any structure, the builder views it from all four sides to get an overall assessment. Similarly, during the construction stage, after constructing the concrete experience, it should be assessed from all the perspectives summarized by Savickas (2015a), as listed in Table 4. This multi-dimensional analysis will demonstrate what the concrete experience symbolically represents for the client, and the tension that holds it together. Therefore, for a successful LDC intervention, each stage of the LDC process should be analyzed from all four perspectives before moving on to the subsequent stage.    

Table 4. Four Phases of Life-Design Counseling Process
Client Experience Life Designing Learning Cycle (Kolb,1984) Client Operations
(Watson & Rennie 1994)
Tension Construct Concrete Experience Symbolic Representation
Attention Deconstruct Reflective Observation Reflexive self-examination
Intention Reconstruct Abstract Conceptualization New Realizations
Extension Co-Construct Active Experimentation Revisioning Self

In the Indian value system, the boundaries between self and other (Arulmani 2011) are porous, wherein Indian parents believe their child’s success is representative of their own success, while children perceive parental expectations as their own (Bhalla 2017). Tien (2015) also highlights how in eastern cultures family is a part of the whole picture for self-construction. These characteristics of collectivist societies and analysis of the two LDC interventions call for considering life roles (and role salience) as part of LDC.  Herein, administering the Life-Space Map (Brott 2005) is recommended.

In this research, both clients volunteered information on their short-, medium- and long-term goals indicating the increasing clarity of their intentions. To further facilitate action and planning (with sense-making) the future-focused, extended lifeline exercise (Brott 2005) is recommended.

Savickas (2015a) emphasizes the role of audience in achieving the goal of narratability and facilitating action wherein counselors should encourage clients to ground their new stories in a secure base by narrating it to an audience outside of the counseling session. Indian clients consider parents the most important audience yet are uncomfortable sharing their mission statement with them as it may differ from the original plans decided as a family. Therefore, counselors can help clients recruit ’known’, ‘imaginary’ or ‘introduced’ audiences for his purpose (Briddickk and Sensoy-Briddickk 2013).

Tien’s (2015) suggestion to encourage Asian clients to think positively is highly relevant because doing well is considered a child’s obligation. Instead of rejoicing in their strengths, family and relatives tend to compare their child’s achievements to his/her peers and children of their peers with shortcomings becoming a focal point of discussion. Drew’s inability to accept appreciation, expecting criticism from the counselor and his lack of career confidence reflect this common trend. Hence, strength building exercises are highly recommended for clients within a collectivist context.


Based on the findings one can conclude that Life-Design Counseling can be an effective career intervention for the Indian context. However, for LDC to be successful, practitioners need to focus on instilling confidence in their clients, empowering them to find the solution situated within them. From the cultural perspective, it was found that for India’s collectivist value system, exploring the concept of life roles through reflection may significantly contribute to the overall LDC experience. Practitioners who are familiar with the client’s cultural orientation and outlook are certainly at an advantage while counseling. However, counselors who lack knowledge of the cultural script followed in countries with a collectivist orientation can utilize the concept of life-roles to understand and acknowledge the client’s context. In this manner, practitioners can demonstrate empathy and administer a culturally resonant career intervention.


  • Arulmani, G. (2011a). Striking the right note: the cultural preparedness approach to developing resonant career guidance programmes. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 11, 2, 79-93
  • Bhalla, A., & Frigerio, G. (2020). Career counselling with life design in a collectivist cultural context: An action research study. Journal of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling, 45,1, 68–76.
  • Briddick, W. C.& Sensoy-Briddick, H. (2013). The role of audience in Life Design in Di Fabio, A. & Maree J. G. (Eds.), Psychology of career counseling: New challenges for a new era. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers.
  • Brott, P. (2005). A constructivist look at life roles, The Career Development Quarterly, 54, 138-149  
  • Maree, J.G. (2013) Counselling for career construction, Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense
  • Savickas, M.L. (2015b) Life Designing with adults: Developmental individualization using biographical bricolage’ in Handbook of Life Design, Gottingen: Hogrefe, pp. 136
  • Savickas, M.L. (2015a) Life Design counseling manual. Visited on 10 April 2018,
  • Savickas, M.L. (2011) Career counseling, Washington DC: American Psychological Association
  • Tien, H.L.S. (2015). ’Cultural perspectives on Life Design’ in Handbook of Life-Design, Gottingen: Hogrefe, pp. 249-265

Aparna Bhalla, a 2021 APCDA Scholar, is a high school counselor in India and complete her master’s degree in Career Development and Coaching Studies at the University of Warwick, England.  She currently practices Life-Design Career Counseling.

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Singapore’s e2i Career Transition Programs

by Yogeswary Nithiah Nandan, Senior Career Coach

APCDA Career Service Competencies
2. Client service delivery
4. Career Development
5. Career assessments
6. Labor market information
14. Computerized career tools
15. Technology, information and resources
16. Career management coaching
17. Employability skills
18. Job search skills

Singapore is seen as an economic giant due to its robust economy, with a highly educated workforce, excellent connectivity, and high standard of living that offers businesses the ideal landscape to invest. We cannot ignore the fact that Singapore’s landscape has seen shifts since the pandemic situation started in 2020.

Transition, Change, Mindset, Agility and Adaptability are some common words that we hear these days. We cannot disagree with the fact that the pandemic has thrown many off their comfortable seats and forced the world to embrace change. It is often the ones most responsive to change that emerge unscathed.

There are many theories out there on why people resist change. It is not uncommon for people to prefer stability and predictability. Not everyone is adventurous and wants to go on a rollercoaster ride when it comes to their livelihood. We are slowly moving away from the days when not staying in one company for all your career is seen as a failure. Career transitions are slowly losing their negative connotation and becoming welcomed.

Common reasons that we hear for career transitions are usually pull factors such as higher salary, attractive job scope or a job that fits their interests and push factors such as feeling stagnated, uncompetitive salary or negative relationship with colleagues or reporting officer.

When a Client approaches me with regards to career transition, I usually explore a few options with them. First, I check with them on their motivation for career transition. This would give a better idea on their driving forces for a career change. It would also give me a better idea on their urgency for transition or if they have already undergone the career discovery process.

Thereafter, I will explore the following with them:

Career Interests

Self-awareness is crucial when clients want to make a career transition. It is important for clients to understand their Values, Personality, Interests and Skills and if it fits the role of their choice. I have had jobseekers who tell me that they want to make a change because they heard that the industry is popular now or has lots of opportunities. I encourage my clients to focus on their career interests because career interests are often linked to greater job satisfaction and success at work. We cannot discount the fact that having a job that has interesting tasks or duties would motivate us to stay in the job. But we will never know what is important to us until we explore our career interests.

National Trade Union Congress’s Employment and Employability Institute (NTUC’s e2i) offers the Career Navigator workshop specially curated for our jobseekers to understand more about themselves through personality assessments. The workshop is targeted at jobseekers who are keen to discover their career goals, values and interests which can further direct them on the right career track. Following the assessment, our trainers guide our clients to integrate the results with their career goals and share tips on how to formulate a career plan to achieve the goals.

As part of NTUC e2i’s career strategies series, we have also introduced jobs sharing sessions for jobseekers who are keen to explore job options in growing market (e.g. Healthcare and eCommerce (Third-party Logistic)). Through these sessions, jobseekers are able to pick up digital skills to prepare them for future-ready jobs. The session also covers information on sector specific jobs. At the end of the session, clients are equipped with new digital skills and learn how to take charge of their job search.

Industry Transformation Map and Skills Framework

The Industry Transformation Maps are roadmaps to drive transformation. NTUC and Unions have been involved since the conceptualization of the Industry Transformation Maps. The unions representing individual industry were consulted to better inform the upskilling of workers and the skillsets needed to meet the challenges of the future. Roadmaps were developed for 23 industries and focus on 4 pillars which are productivity, jobs and skills, innovation, and trade and internationalisation. While we brainstorm ideas for career choices, I often encourage my clients to look at the Skills Framework which is a component of the Industry Transformation Map. Through this framework, our clients have a better understanding of the industry, career pathways, exiting and emerging skills and training programs which they can tap to bridge their gap. And when clients better understand their transferrable skills, they can better manage a career transition.

Conversion Programs

There are several conversion programs that have been rolled out to aid Singaporeans in career transition. One of the programs under the Adapt & Grow initiative is the Professional Conversion Programme also known as PCP by many. The PCP is a conversion program targeted at PMETs (Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians). The Place and Train (PnT) program provide training and salary support to help workers reskill to take on new jobs in different sectors. The Attach and Train program provides workers with training and work attachments. Under this program, trainees undergo on-the-job training with a partnering company to which they are attached to upon completion of the classroom training. Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) offers a Mid-Career Advance program that provides opportunities for mid-career professionals to reskill or upskill themselves so that they can enter the tech field.

Through these programs many Singaporeans have had the opportunity to embark on a mid-career switch through picking up new skills. NTUC’s e2i coaches explore the various programs with our clients who are looking for opportunities to move into new sectors which they have assessed to offer them better prospects and progression.

SG United Jobs and Skills Package

The SG United Jobs and Skills Package was announced in 2020 to support Singaporeans who had been impacted by COVID-19. The package allows Singaporeans to expand job opportunities and acquire job related skills via training.

Under this package, the SG United Mid-Career Pathways program was introduced to support mid-career individuals to widen their professional networks and gain new, in-demand skills while preparing for more permanent jobs in the future. This has been an additional option for our PMETs who are given opportunities to gain meaningful industry relevant experience.

Another program is the SG United Skills Programme which aids Singaporeans to acquire in-demand and emerging skills in various sectors via a wide range of training courses. These full-time training courses are largely in sectors with good hiring opportunities and provide trainees with opportunities to upskill and reskill themselves with industry relevant skills and knowledge. The trainees are able to boost their employability and prepare to take on new jobs as the economy recovers.

Career transition has its challenges as change is not something everybody is open to or receptive to. Thus, it is crucial that we give our client focused guidance, formulate an action plan together, guide to improvise their job search skills and support them through this journey. I always share this quote by Henry Ford with my clients who are considering career switch: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

Yogeswary Nithiah Nandan, Senior Career Coach, NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute, is a certified Job and Career Transition Coach and Career Facilitator (CFP). She is an experienced Career Practitioner with a strong belief in organizational and career development. Yogeswary is passionate in guiding people towards their preferred career direction to enable them to have meaningful careers. She is a strong believer in staying relevant in today's changing times and has continued to embrace career development practices to help individuals gain career clarity for greater job satisfaction.

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Two Trends in Effective Job Search

By Rupert French

APCDA Career Service Competencies
6a Find, understand and apply credible labor market information that is free of bias.
6b Use labor market information to assist clients in career planning and job search strategies.
17. Employability skills.
18. Job Search skills.

Two recent trends to effective job search are helping job seekers regain some control of the job search process. The development of robotic software (Applicant Tracking System or ATS) to assess written applications and now the asynchronous video interviews (AVI) had unintentionally eroded that sense of control, demoralizing many candidates.

These two trends work together to reinvigorate the job search process. They are the value proposition and the call to action (CTA).

The value proposition (or business proposal) is where job seekers take the initiative to tell an employer how they want to help the organization achieve its objectives.

A call to action is where job seekers proactively request an interview based on the strength of their value proposition.

While ATS and AVI software tend to disempower applicants, these two proactive initiatives, the value proposition and CTA, work towards a win-win situation and give job seekers significantly greater standing in the employers’ eyes.

Value propositions

Employers are responsible for making their enterprises profitable. They are not going to give out jobs to people out of a sense of pity or generosity; they want people who are going to benefit the organization. While ATS and AVI software is programmed to evaluate the potential qualities a job seeker could bring to the organization to enable recruiters estimate that benefit, the result won’t be nearly as convincing as the applicants themselves stating and demonstrating how they can and want to help.

A value proposition is not just a simple statement in a written application; it is communicated in every contact the applicant has with the organization. The value proposition results from thorough research of the issues facing the organization and the motivation to help meet those issues.

When job seekers first contact someone in the organization, they may ask for more information about those issues and a remark such as “I would love to help with something like that” demonstrates not only the ability but the motivation to be involved.

In the written application, the value proposition is clearly stated and then convincingly supported by achievement (or accomplishment) statements demonstrating the required skills and motivation. Here is an example from the cover letter for an application for the position of Director of Events and Business Management at a sports center:

I have read with great interest the requirements for this position and I have carefully studied your website. The range of facilities for indoor and outdoor sports and recreational activities, and the amenities for conferences and other events at the Center are amazing. I would love the opportunity to help maximize their use and generate a strong return on investment. I am confident that I have the skills, experience and aptitude that you are seeking and I very keen to meet with you to discuss how I could help you achieve and exceed your targets.

This supported by achievement statements in the applicant’s résumé:

  • Through targeted promotion, increased conference revenue by 27% …
  • Designed and developed an effective website plus online advertising and an active social media campaign to promote the Teledrome track cycling event, 2014. This attracted some well-known national and international cyclists, prompting sales of 17,500 tickets.

Her application would generate keen interest and provides convincing evidence of her motivation and ability. Now all that is required is a strong call to action.

Call to action

Marketing gurus will tell you that an effective call to action (CTA) is an essential part of any successful marketing campaign and job seekers are marketing their services.

Because job seekers have gradually been disempowered by modern trends in recruitment, many feel uncomfortable using CTAs but they can significantly increase the likelihood of getting an interview. They are worth using – but they must be backed up by a convincing value proposition.

Opportunities for CTAs could include websites, social media profiles and when talking to prospective hiring managers. Perhaps the most powerful place is the cover letter. Note the implied CTA in the cover letter quoted above where the applicant seeks a meeting or interview:

I am very keen to meet with you to discuss how I could help you achieve and exceed your targets.

In that letter, there are two other, and more explicit, CTAs. The first is in the subject line which begins: “Request for interview; Director of Events and Business Development.“ This tells the employer that this is a serious applicant, that the applicant is confident that she would perform well in the job.

The third one is in the final paragraph:

As I have already said, I would love the opportunity to demonstrate in person the strength of my ambition to help build on the already great reputation of the San Pablo Sports and Recreation Center in the role of Director of Events and Business Development. Please contact me on 510 741 5179 to arrange an interview.

With a summary of her Value Proposition preceding the CTA, the employer would feel strongly encouraged to pick up the phone and arrange the interview. Employers want applicants with confidence and initiative, leadership and drive. If candidates have got the nerve to include CTAs backed up by a convincing value proposition, it demonstrates that they have those qualities.


Employers want applicants who are confident of their abilities and motivated to meet the issues of the role they are applying for. A value proposition displayed throughout the job search process and followed by strategic CTAs indicate a serious candidate, one well worth interviewing.

These trends should be adopted into the toolkit of every serious job seeker.

Note: the quotations are taken from one of the specimen applications in my book How to Get a Good Job After 50, (Exisle Publishing, ISBN 978-1-925820-82-9) to be released in June.

Rupert French is a globally recognized, award-winning job search expert and author with 40 years active involvement in helping disadvantaged job seekers. He contributes articles regularly to LinkedIn Pulse. A presenter on successful job search strategies at several national and international career conferences, he has been a guest on radio and television in Australia, New Zealand and the USA. The revised edition of How to Get a Good Job After 50 is his fourth book.

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How to Build Trust Fast with Career Stories

By Han Kok Kwang, 1st APCDA Legacy Partner Lifetime Member

APCDA Career Service Competencies
3. Individual and group career counseling
4. Career development
8. Professionalism
12. Event Project/Program Delivery
16. Career Management Coaching

In my exchanges with generous career mentors around the world, I’ve gathered a huge repertoire of tools and techniques to guide my candidates in career transition. One of my favorite techniques is Career Story, which is very effective for self-disclosure in group sessions.

I often used it when I run career transition (CT) workshops for mature participants (age 50+). Many of them are self-conscious, anxious and thus, less keen to speaking up. Why? As casualties of “corporate right-sizing” or early retirement policies, they are usually not in class by choice.

It is always a challenge to manage a class of 20 mature participants. With about 25+ years’ experience each, the collective wisdom in a class is easily 500 years! With seniority and experience under their belt, they are impatient and ”suffer no fools,” especially with perceived “young punk” facilitators.

I recall one of my early CT sessions with amusement when I started a workshop. Before I could say anything, their first question, in a most condescending tone, was “How old are you, Han?” Truth be told, I was at least 10 years younger than most of them. But it didn’t matter. I simply connected with them sincerely and demonstrated my competence via my sharing. It was a breeze after that. The key is to stay calm and not react. It’s also more effective to show, not tell.

Lessons learnt? It is not personal because this is probably the 1st time they are seeing you. Treat your participants, especially the mature ones, with respect. Earn theirs with your empathy and competence. Tap the experience of the vocal ones by giving them opportunities to showcase their experience. When you win them over, the difficult participants often become your strongest advocates.  

The best time to utilize Career Story is when participants are fairly comfortable with each other, usually in the 2nd or 3rd quarter of the day.

  • Materials needed: pen and paper
  • Layout: They are usually seated in groups of 4 to 5.

Set the stage by asking if there are any movie fans in the class. The response is usually affirmative because going to movies is a common past time. You then talk about the movie trailers that are shown before the main movie feature. Ask them why are the trailers so exciting and captivating to watch? They are often quite happy to participate. You simply go with the flow. The key is when you explain that movie trailers are exciting because they show only the best parts. The highlights are what make them captivating.

Then link movie trailers to job hunting. Emphasize to them that the same principle applies. Employers are busy people. They have no time for you or any candidate (it’s not personal) unless you come across as exciting to them, like a movie trailer.

You then transition to ask them to draw their Career Story to date, in 6 minutes. The Career Story will be their personal movie trailer, highlighting both their career highs and lows. The highs will be their strengths e.g. Promotions or Advancements. The lows will be great lessons learned and skills developed e.g. Setbacks or failures. Assure them that what happens in the classroom stays in the classroom.

Emphasize drawing their career story with one condition: no words are allowed. Tell them the more detailed the drawing is, the more impactful it will be. Some may protest, saying they can’t draw. Reassure them that they know but simply forgot how. Why? Because when they were young, most of them drew before they learned how to write.

Drawing equalizes the class because some may not have strong language or writing skills. Drawing also puts everyone at the same starting point. You may even discover some hidden artistic talents in the class.  Once they are done drawing their story, assign them to different groups from the ones they are currently seated with. Each one will have 5 minutes to tell their Career Story in the new group.

In each group, ask for volunteers to play two roles: Timekeeper and Cheer leader. The Timekeeper will keep time, ensuring that each one has 5 full minutes to share their story. The Cheerleader will lead the group to validate and appreciate the storyteller when they are done telling their story. The roles are useful in enabling ownership and keeping engagement amongst participants high.

Usually, the story telling will start off slow and rather soft. However, by the time they are done, they are usually animated and loud. The ice is broken and trust is built, because they have realized that everyone has a story that is uniquely theirs. They are not alone in this predicament of career transition nor is it their fault. A proper debrief is essential to provide closure and help them reframe their experience positively as a Happenstance event for growth (Krumboltz).

As the facilitator, you could also use the “Johari Window” to highlight the importance of self- disclosure (Window #3 = Secret: you know, they don’t know) in a group to build trust. But always remind them to protect themselves and disclose (share) only what they are comfortable to share. As we are not privy to others’ intentions, participants must be prepared that whatever they share may end up on social media.

For students who don’t have much career experience, you can reposition it as a Life Story activity. And in this age of virtual learning, you can use the breakout room feature on Zoom to play the game to keep engagement high.

Happy career storying!

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Career Supervision: Sparking Hope, Balance and Realistic Positivity

By Ma. Leonila Vitug-Urrea, PhD

Transfer, Transform, Transition. Career supervision has never been this challenging and these three words have guided me as our department delivers all counseling, career programs, and services online while journeying with the fear and anxieties of living in quarantine for more than a year.

Transferring our guidance services online entailed an identifying and enlisting the transferrable skills of my staff, while I, their supervisor, endeavored to reflect on my skillset and identify skills which could serve as an anchor for us to start our work and provide the expected guidance services to all the University’s stakeholders. Steering my staff to be deliberately aware of what they can contribute to the new working modality has brought excitement and amazement for those who can adapt, but for some who cannot adapt have left us with a “that’s all I know folks, take it or leave it” attitude.  Helping this kind of staff to upskill so they can work in cyberspace is a matter of attitude and not about age.  Many attempts were extended to scaffold their learning through the assistance of their peers in the office, but reality surfaced. It was difficult for them to follow as they did not have the stick-to-it-iveness to do it.  No matter how much I would have liked to save them for temporary unemployment, it was inevitable because their mindset was a stumbling block for them to function effectively with the team.

As we learned to transform our programs and services into relevant activities, the challenges of working at home appeared.  Domestic concerns and chores became interspersed during the workday rather than doing them before or after work. Faced with this challenging scenario, I find meaning in balance as I traverse with my staff how we do work and how it can be outcome-based amidst our responsibilities in our home cum office. Through this process, my trust and hope for my staff have transformed to a new level as I creatively find ways to motivate them remotely. I involve them in planning measurable outputs leading them to measure their accomplishments in hours worked in a day, to collate, and submit these as a weekly report. At present, work supervision utilizes several platforms.  I communicate with my staff and follow-up activities via Messenger and Hangouts chat or calls, and regular meetings via Zoom or Google Meet.

Are we still transitioning? Yes, we are as there are still discomforts in doing full-time online work. This should be expected, as we abruptly changed the way we work.  Our past training did not suffice for us to navigate effectively the delivery platforms needed for the programs and services we offer to the stakeholders, most especially to the students.  Digital immigrants and natives, I found out have one common characteristic:  both are conditioned to learn, study, and work face-to-face. Though flexible learning and working conditions existed before, full online work and learning happened unexpectedly. Thus, both digital immigrants and natives are transitioning into this new way of life. As social distancing adds new metrics to stay safe from being sick with the variants of COVID-19, I initiated and encouraged independence in learning new skills, open-mindedness, focus, collaboration, coordination, and transparency for my team.  My staff and I have recognized the birth pains of new projects, and that failures do happen.  We are facing the moment with a realistic optimism and have accepted a future that is uncertain and disrupted.  And as I let them into my vision of our programs and services in this new normal, I know I have inspired, in one way or the other, a conviction that the challenges we are facing are growth opportunities.

Calmly, we all waddle on the current of the pandemic but we will surely arrive at our destination. 

Ma. Leonila Vitug-Urrea, PhD. is currently the Director of the Guidance, Counseling and Career Services Office of the University of the East. She is a licensed guidance counselor and a mental health psychosocial support volunteer counselor/facilitator to survivors of natural calamities. She is currently the corresponding secretary of the Association of Placement Practitioners of Colleges and Universities (APPCU).  She serves on APCDA’s Ethics and Standards Committee and assisted with the revision of the Ethical Guidelines of APCDA.

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Career Advice for Generalists

By Tuan Anh Le

APCDA Career Service Competencies
6. Labor market information
16. Career management and coaching
17. Employability skills

There are two types of people commonly found in work: those who like and are good at a specialization (a.k.a specialist) and those who like and are good at doing many different things (a.k.a generalists). In 6 years of career consulting for young adults in Vietnam, I have had the opportunity to meet many ‘generalists’ - or 'people who like everything.' For people that 'like all kinds of things', which job is right?

Do you like one thing or like all sorts of things?

A specialist is usually only interested in 1 or 2 specific areas of work and spends a lot of time studying that area deeply. In any profession, it is possible to find people who have studied a specific area deeply. For example, you can meet very expert doctors, teachers, and lawyers who don't know much about what's going on in the entertainment world. They are specialists.

People who find all kinds of things interesting may find in many areas of work interesting, often even unrelated areas. For example, I am a person who likes all kinds of things. In my career, I have worked in communication, social insurance, IT, education, hospitality, and I like it all. I am a generalist.

One more way to know if you are in the generalist group is to take the Holland personality inventory. If you have a high score in 4 or more groups, chances are you are a generalist.

The suffering of generalists

This article was born because many people who ‘like all kinds’ seek career counseling. If they were happy, then there would be no need to write this article. So why do generalists suffer?

Suffering by comparing themselves with a friend (usually a professional) who already knows which field to pursue, or a friend who has reached a managerial position, but the generalist is still struggling to find a true passion.

Suffering because the generalist knows a little about everything but does not know any field in depth, so when looking for a job, companies reject the generalist.

Generalists have certain advantages.

In my work as a career consultant, I help the client see more clearly the two sides of the problem. Often the person who seeks career counseling is stuck on the negative side, so I will help the person see the positive side. Actually, generalists have certain advantages when working:

In a crisis, such as Covid-19, specialists struggle to stay in their chosen field. Generalists are able to adapt well and can look for other jobs.

At work, a generalist who is trained in leadership skills becomes a more inclusive leader.

Many companies favor people with expertise in a variety of areas over one area. People who like many things have multiple approaches to a problem.

What kind of work environment suits a generalist?

Being a generalist is a necessary quality for someone who works as a freelancer, works for a small company or works as a general manager.

To be a freelancer, you need one skill that you do well (writing, designing, taking pictures or something). But you must also be willing to do the many diverse tasks needed to run a business, and you need to connect with many people.  That is the way to ensure financial stability.

Small companies need to take advantage of generalists who are able to hold 2 or 3 different roles, helping to reduce costs. For example, one person can work as a human resource manager, accountant, or marketing officer at the same time for the same company.

A general manager needs to be a generalist to understand the work of subordinate positions.  For example, the subordinates send reports and the manager needs to read and understand the reports to give feedback.

So how about generalists who want to apply to companies/corporations?

First, for degrees, generalists should consider taking an MBA or master's degree in management because you will be taught more about management thinking, leadership thinking, general knowledge, and many aspects of the economic market.

When working in a unit, you must accept that you are not as specialized as some professionals. However, take advantage of the fact that you know many things and turn it into your strength.  Focus on tasks such as being a connector, a manager, or creating new jobs.

Big companies often seek people who specialize in a certain area. You may need to specialize in one area and become good enough in that field for employers to select you.  But you also need to know many different things to be successful in life. The secret is to choose one thing you do, focus on being good at that one thing, and use it to find a job.  After being hired, use your generalist preference to become an invaluable team player.  

Mr. Tuan Anh Le is one of the first-generation career professionals in Vietnam. He is the author of 3 bestselling books on career and personal development topics. His strength is to use social media to interact and convey career messages to students. He currently manages the community of more than 100,000 vocational students on Facebook.

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Quality, Intention, and Coherence Matter

By Dr. Jacqueline Peila-Shuster

In summer of 2020, I chose to take an online instructional course designed for faculty at my university in an attempt to bolster my proficiency with teaching online. My upcoming fall was to consist of teaching two courses that were to have both in-person (face-to-face, or should I say mask-to-mask) components, as well as asynchronous online components. I wanted the best for my students, so I knew I needed to learn more.

To ensure quality online course design, Colorado State University’s Online program (CSU Online) uses Quality Matters ™ (QM), which is an international organization recognized as a leader in quality assurance for online education. The QM Higher Education Rubric provides research-based review standards that can be applied to online courses to evaluate course design (not course delivery).

As I worked through my course map, which was based on QM standards, I was required to engage in intentional and thoughtful ways to determine learning objectives for each lesson (or module) plan that connected to my overall course objectives. Additionally, assessments, instructional resources, and learning activities each had to be connected to lesson/module objectives, and they had to encompass a variety of learning styles and abilities. Overall, while it was an enormous amount of work, when I ultimately moved information into the online learning platform, I was able to be both efficient and effective, and students were presented with learning opportunities that were clear, coherent, and connected.

Jacqueline J. Peila-Shuster, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, is an associate professor and coordinator of the Counseling and Career Development master's degree program in the School of Education at Colorado State University. She also coordinates the degree's Career Counseling specialization. Dr. Peila-Shuster teaches courses in career development, supervises counseling internship and practicum, and is faculty with the Career Construction Network.

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Meaningful Work: Later Life Career Transitions and Adaptability

by Jennifer Luke

APCDA Career Services Competencies
2. Client Service Delivery
4. Career Development
9. Performance Improvement and Lifelong Learning
13. Diversity and Inclusion
16. Career Management Coaching
17. Employability Skills

Globalisation, technology, and an ageing population are profoundly impacting labour markets globally. Policy makers are encouraged by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; 2019) to strengthen resilience and adaptability within their workforce as well as encourage the addition of skills from mature age workers so as to strengthen workforce productivity. With a growing mature age workforce, this creates great opportunities for employers to harness the wealth of knowledge and experience that older workers bring. Unfortunately, mature age workers are still faced with many hurdles in a highly competitive and fast-moving job market, and so they need to be adaptable as well as have a purpose.

Before looking at workforce capability solutions and how to encourage employers to recruit older workers, you need to first focus on the individual. What are the needs of a mature age worker? Why are they looking for a career transition? If they are retired, why are they wishing to re-enter the workforce? How does a mature age worker need to adapt to the changing world of work?  How have their plans been affected during recent months within a global pandemic?

The world of work has become a fast-paced environment where people of all ages seek meaning from within both their life and career roles, in order to connect themselves into meaningful paths built upon personal values and a sense of purpose. How can mature age workers navigate career transitions within today’s constantly changing work environment and successfully adapt to challenges they may encounter during their search for meaningful work?

Meaningful work and purpose

Meaningful work provides experience and personal growth and is a human right central to mental health and wellbeing, as well as meeting the basic needs of survival and power, social connection, and self-determination (Blustein, 2006, 2013).

The motivation of those in retirement to re-engage with career was investigated by Luke et al., (2016) where an overall desire to have work and life experiences valued in the workplace, was a common theme amongst older-aged interview participants. Also highlighted was the importance of employers to recognise and encourage older workers who re-engage with work (paid or volunteer), so as to build upon their self-belief, career adaptability and sense of meaningfulness.

Adaptability during career transitions

All job seekers including those of mature age must remain adaptable and flexible in the face of challenges they encounter during the search for meaningful work while career transitioning. In providing career support to these workers there are four psychological dimensions of career adaptability to consider: a sense of autonomy over work tasks (control), a future-focused orientation to working (concern), feeling positive about successfully contributing to a workplace (confidence), and a focus on lifelong learning (curiosity) (Savickas, 2012).

It is important to understand that a person’s age does not regulate where they stand within the career life span. Donald Super’s Life-Span, Life-Space (1990) comprises of five career stages – growth, exploration, establishment, maintenance, and disengagement, with developmental tasks and roles undertaken during each. Super acknowledged that life events can cause people to revisit earlier career life stages such as a mature age worker in the later maintenance stage of their career deciding to return to an exploration stage via a career change or a retiree deciding to re-enter employment (establishment stage) after previously disengaging form the workforce. Super described this as mini-cycling where interests, abilities, and values are reappraised using processes seen in earlier developmental stages. In any of these transitions to earlier life stages, career adaptability is key.

Benefits of the mature age worker

The advantage to hiring experienced older workers is that not only do they pass on their knowledge to clients and customers, but also their team members. Encouraging mentorship and knowledge transfer between an inclusive workplace will provide return on investment for employers. This focus on mentorship and knowledge transfer is where my recent PhD research has focused and a main outcome of the studies conducted was a strong alignment to meaningful work.

With the mature age workforce increasing in age, businesses and communities now have access to a wealth of knowledge – they need to make sure to recognise, value and use it. Automation and technology cannot account for the experience these mature age workers will bring to a job.

See you online at the APCDA 2021 Conference

A main goal of my recent PhD research was to contribute research that promotes policy and professional practice conversations about the value of older workers, their career development needs, and how to support their career engagement, as well as the importance of transferring their knowledge through effective and meaningful mentorship to younger workers.

In the upcoming APCDA 2021 conference I have the great privilege of presenting with Dr. Roberta Borgen (Neault) and Dr William Borgen on the topic of career engagement for older workers and adapting to workforce change. Following on from a journal article focusing on this topic (Luke & Neault, 2020) and our recent CERIC webinar series, the three of us are looking forward to sharing further with conference attendees. As a research member of the Australian Collaboratory for Career Employability and Learning for Living (ACCELL), I also have the fantastic opportunity to present with my research team colleague Jason Brown in another APCDA conference session looking at career adaptation across the lifespan with a focus both on university students and post-retirement age mentors. Meaningful work, career transitions and adaptability are what we all strive for and at this time in world history even more so. The APCDA 2021 conference will be a great time for all attendees to share, learn, collaborate, and network. See you there!


  • Blustein, D. (2006). The psychology of working: A new perspective for career development, counseling, and public policy. Psychology Press.
  • Blustein, D. L. (ed.) (2013). The Oxford Handbook of the Psychology of Working. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199758791.001.0001
  • Luke, J., McIlveen, P., & Perera, H.N. (2016). A thematic analysis of career adaptability in retirees who return to work. Frontiers in Psychology. 7:193. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00193.
  • Luke, J., & Neault, R. A. (2020). Advancing older workers: Motivations, adaptabilities, and ongoing career engagement. Canadian Journal of Career Development, 19(1), 48-55.
  • Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). (2019). Working better with age. Ageing and Employment Policies. Paris: OECD Publishing.
  • Savickas, M. L. (2012). Career construction theory and practice. In R.W. Lent & S.D. Brown (Eds.),Career development and counseling: Putting theory and research to work (2nd ed.).Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Super, D.E. (1990). A life-span, life-space approach to career development. In D.Brown, L. Brooks, & Associates (Eds.), Career choice and development: Applying contemporary theories to practice (2nd ed., pp. 197-261). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Jennifer Luke is a careers educator and researcher at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), member of the Australian Collaboratory for Career Employability and Learning for Living (ACCELL) and current Divisional President (Queensland) of the Career Development Association of Australia. Her recently submitted Ph.D. research and ongoing advocacy focuses on career support for older workers re-engaging with the workforce, their adaptability, and transference of skills to the younger generations. Twitter: aClearOutlook

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Culture and Career Development in Sri Lanka

By Anjana Kulasekara, Founder & CEO, CareerMe

APCDA Career Services Competencies
2. Client Service Delivery
4. Career Development
5. Career Assessment
6.Labor Market Information
8. Professionalism
13. Diversity and Inclusion
14. Computerized Career Planning Tools
15. Technology, Information, and Resources for Service Delivery

Sri Lanka faces a huge skills mismatch in the labour market where there aren’t enough skilled workers for the available jobs. In 2019, the growth sectors were construction, manufacturing, tourism & hospitality, and IT services, however these sectors continue to face difficulty in finding skilled workers1. On the flip side, there is high youth unemployment in Sri Lanka with the age group of 15-24 years experiencing a 21.5% unemployment rate according to the 2019 Labour Force Survey published by Department of Census and Statistics. The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to be properly quantified but an estimated 600,000 direct and indirect jobs have been lost in tourism and allied sectors1.

Career guidance has long been looked upon as a potential tool to address the labour market skills mismatch. In Sri Lanka there are many organisations such as schools, vocational training institutions, youth service centres, government ministries, and private sector institutions involved in the provision of career guidance. However, there is very little collaboration and cohesion between these entities with most acting in silos, thereby reducing the overall impact of their activities.  The table below highlights few key public sector organizations involved in delivery of career guidance services in Sri Lanka2.

Name of Ministry

Related Organization under line Ministry

Ministry of Education (MoE)

Career Guidance (CG) division of MoE, CG units of national and provincial schools, and the National Education Commission (NEC)

State Ministry of Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations

Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission (TVEC), Vocational Training Authority (VTA), National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA), Department of Technical Education and Training (DTET) and several NGOs engaged in TVET activities.

Ministry of Youth and Sports

Department of Manpower and Employment

National Youth Services Council (NYSC)

Public sector organizations under other ministries

University Grants Commissions (UGC)

National Human Resource Development Council (NHRDC)

Taking into account the aforementioned growth sectors in Sri Lanka, more job opportunities are present in the vocational sector. However, most youth are unaware or unwilling to engage in the vocational sector. There are many reasons for this ranging from cultural to socioeconomic influences3. As such most of these public sector organizations providing career guidance services and work to promote vocational education and related career opportunities.

In Sri Lankan culture, parents are key decisions makers in their child’s future career. It is commonly observed that parents encourage or influence their children to pursue traditional careers such as a doctor, lawyer, or engineer, as these are well paying professions perceived with high esteem by society and carry high social value. It is also observed that parents, especially from more rural settings, would rather have their children pursue a government or public sector job rather than one in the private sector. The former is perceived as a more secure vocation with guaranteed pension, and higher social status which may go so far as promoting an individual’s chance of securing a good marriage. Even the promise of higher pay in the private sector may not be enough to dissuade such an individual from pursuing a government sector job. Hence with such cultural underpinning, professions in the vocational and private sector are often less valued or looked down upon.

In addition to parents, school teachers also play a crucial role in influencing an individual’s education and career trajectory. However, school teachers, too, are underprepared to guide students as they themselves lack information on careers; labor market information; and training to effectively support their students. These key influential figures’ lack of awareness of the changing world of work leaves students often lost and confused when it comes to choosing a career or education path. Unrealistic expectations of the work place are also prevalent as most would rely on word-of-mouth information provided by their close circle of family and peers rather than consult a professional on this front.

It should also be noted that Sri Lanka enjoys a high literacy rate due to free education provided by the state. However, for university education there are only 15 state universities and due to the limited capacity, only about 30,000 students are admitted annually out of the approximately 165,000 who are eligible to enter university after completing the university entrance (G.C.E. A-level) examination every year4. Therefore, a large number of students are left confused on what to do next. Many spend their time attempting the A/L exam for 2nd or 3rd time in hope of getting into a public university and eventually landing a public sector job rather than looking for other education and career opportunities.

Certain professions in the vocational sector are also considered by society to be unsuitable for a certain gender (eg: considering construction jobs as unsuitable for women). Such cultural and societal biases close potential job opportunities to youth. This simple example also characterizes the need to localize career guidance tools and assessments to the local context. Psychometric assessment tools from other countries include or refer to occupations that are subject to strong cultural biases, which tends to skew the results of the assessment.

All these cultural and societal nuances need to be accounted for when developing career services for a specific region. Drawing on personal experience - when building CareerMe (, we took these considerations into account in developing tools and assessments, and also localized our online platform to all three national languages (Sinhala, Tamil and English languages) to overcome the language barrier.  Further we made a push toward promoting use of technology as most entities were relying on offline, paper-based mechanisms for delivery of career services in the country, which greatly limited the reach and accessibility of career services to those who need them.

The career services field in Sri Lanka is still an emerging field. While the need for career services and guidance has been recognized, there is still much to be done in formalizing the sector, from introducing proper certification & licensing schemes for career practitioners, to making available labour market information, to raising awareness for key stakeholders on the usefulness of obtaining career guidance services.  There is a visible movement to improve career guidance services for youth with support from foreign donors and NGOs, however, there is much to be done to develop the sector to one that is valued by the society and relevant to the dynamic needs of today’s working landscape.


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Global Careers in Diverse Cultures

By Dr. Susan Mate

APCDA Career Services Competencies
1. Communication and interpersonal
3. Individual and group counselling
4. Career development
7. Ethics
8. Professionalism
13. Diversity and Inclusion

De-centred and collaborative practice are core competencies and an important orientation to cross cultural career learning.

The standards guiding career professionals vary in diverse cultural contexts. As career practitioners in a global work economy, we increasingly work with a breadth of people. These standards, strategies and missions enable us to explore how we can continue to grow our capacity for working with clients and colleagues from diverse backgrounds.  As Savickas (2021) in a CICA presentation highlights, some counsellors have turned to narrative models and methods for self-construction and identity shaping because this approach emphasizes life design rather than occupational choice.

I would be interested in views from others about how collaboration informs your practice for engaging with people from diverse backgrounds and as a source of professional identity. I noted that APCDA has identified this as the first part of their mission - that is to work collaboratively. During 2020 the APCDA defined some important service competencies. In this discussion the competency standards outlined by APCDA are unique in identifying coaching and consulting skills (see competency 2c), which are considered important in the work of practitioners.  Competency 3, Individual and group counselling skills is outlined not only by APCDA but can be seen to be mapped across other standards in many contexts. For example, in Australia we are guided by the standards set by the Career Industry Council of Australia Standards (CICA) and in Canada, the Canadian Standards and Guidelines for Career Development Practice. In some cultures, such as Vietnam, these professional standards for career practitioners are still evolving. The way in which we identify with practitioner standards in different cultures could be viewed at the core of our ethical orientation and, possibly, our approach to cross-cultural practice. It is also a factor in our professional identity. For example, counselling is a common practice identified in many standards, but how is this used in practice? Do you think of yourself as a career counsellor? I like to think of my work as a counsellor as involving a collaborative style where I co-construct narratives with my clients. I guess it is my understanding that narrative is an of important vehicle for collaboration.

For me, narrative practice has long been a way of orienting my understanding of careers work and counselling practice. McMahon and Watson (2012) recognise that narrative counselling enables practitioners to work effectively with people from diverse backgrounds. Narrative is seen to have strong links to approaches that enable people to work with the changes associated with global career theories such as constructs of careers that have been identified as important in the international Careers arena.

White (2009) discussed the importance of collaboration in professional practice and how this informs narrative therapy and de-centred practice. Collaboration and de-centred practice guide narrative therapy work. This notion of collaborative work in the Careers field is what continues to draw me toward work in the profession. Narrative is a vehicle to embrace a process for understanding cultural diversity and transition. It can also be seen as a process for understanding CDL (curriculum development learning) and its application in varied contexts. Narrative can also be used as a tool to evaluate workplace learning and how culture of a workplace influences different groups that are marginalised in the workplace.

Although narrative therapy, narrative career practice, analysis of narratives in CDL and narrative analysis for cultural exploration all have varied emphases, they all share a collaborative orientation to practice. Savickas (2013) defines the relationship between career construction theory and counselling practice.

Narrative practice is oriented toward the relationship between the practitioner and their client or student. This is an important ethical consideration as it is one that defines the power a client has and their agency in a process. Narrative is often regarded as an orientation rather than a standard of practice, much like CDL frameworks that focus on collaborations between careers services for employability outcomes and a holistic approach to curricula design.

Further exploration of how we partner with clients is important in the careers field.  CICA’s (2019) standards of practice emphasise the relationship to the client. A practitioner is expected to ‘Refrain from consciously dictating to, judging or coercing client choices, values, lifestyles, plans or beliefs.”  The National Career Development Association (NCDA) emphasises advocacy and the importance of working “jointly in devising integrated career services plans (in writing or orally) that offer reasonable promise of success and are consistent with the abilities and circumstances of clients.”

The ways in which we find opportunity to critically examine how we work in culturally diverse communities appears to be a contemporary mission for many practitioners coming into the career field that I work with. To build more integrated CDL pedagogies may be one step in this direction. We have started to explore this in the Graduate Certificate in Careers Education and Development at RMIT University and study how the co-design initiatives provide greater opportunity for collaboration. We have a very diverse group come into the Graduate Certificate of Careers Education and Development and the diversity and breadth of jobs in the field seems to be increasing. Many come with a social work or counselling background and a common thread with the group is a passion to work with people.


Dr. Susan Mate is an educator and researcher is the field of Career Development and Workplace learning. She is currently working as a Senior Lecturer @ RMIT University:

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Life Design Counselling and Resource-Constrained Communities

By Che Jude

One key developmental activity in the lives of adolescents is making an appropriate career choice. Young people of all ages at different times must make transitions. The transition that they make, in one way or another, has an influence on their future personal and career lives. There is abundant literature on how career counselling influences students’ career indecision in developed countries contexts in general. Within the context of developing countries little research has been conducted (Maree, 2018). Whereas the transition from school to work or tertiary education is managed easily, and with success by most adolescents, many other students do struggle. More and more young people find it exceedingly difficult to make a career choice decision.

In South Africa there is a certain preconceived belief among people who live in marginalized communities that their way out of poverty and misery is by pursuing education trajectories that will lead to lucrative occupations and careers. The education and career aspirations of young people who live in these resource-constrained communities has become scripted in the culture and manifests in a set of values that direct the actions as well as the expectations of a group (Elwood & Murphy, 2015). Even though this script seems to have the potential to facilitate resilience and adaptation to structural inequity which plagues these communities, (Theron & Phasha, 2015), the post-school decisions made by young people are seldom informed by career counsellors (most students in resource-constrained communities do not have access to career counselling and for those who have, the service is expensive and they cannot afford it) and are normally prevented by the legacies of disadvantage (South African Council of Higher Education, 2010). The career-related decisions that the youth from black communities (seriously disadvantaged by the legacies of apartheid which continue into the present) can make are limited by the responsibility for the financial upkeep of their families and associated with increased psychological pressure.

In a visit to South Africa in 1988, Super stated that “Career development, for example, in some African and South Asian countries is really a matter of fitting into what the family needs” (Freeman, 1993, p. 263). No one is better situated than career development researchers and theorists to find innovative ways of deconstructing and reconstructing career development in South Africa so that it can assist in addressing various influences on individual career development. Championing career adaptability despite the circumstances that predict negative developmental outcomes (Masten, 2014) includes facilitating the capacity to negotiate multiple career and life transitions to withstand and/or accommodate career barriers and/or career turbulence that threaten to derail career journeys (Arora & Rangnekar, 2016).

The purpose of this study is to explore how life design-based counselling influences learners with career indecision who hail from resource-constrained communities. Students from two rural and poorly resourced high schools will participate in the research wherein a quasi-experimental group will be exposed to an intervention program that is based on life design counselling and a comparison group will be exposed to traditional career guidance as prescribed by the school curriculum.

A multilinear approach with constructivism as the research paradigm and career construction as the theoretical framework was utilized in developing an overall framework that underpinned the study. A mixed methods design was used to gather, analyze and report on qualitative and quantitative data related to the research questions in this study. Specifically, a pre-test/post-test comparison group design was used to construct quantitative data. The results of the Career Adapt-Abilities Scale (CAAS) (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012) and the Career Decision Difficulties Questionnaire (CDDQ) (Gati & Osipow, 2002) provided the quantitative data. Responses from the Career Interest Profile (CIP) (Maree, 2017), reflective journal entries, and focus group interviews provided qualitative data for this study.


I am still working on the quantitative data analysis. However, from a quick glance, there is not much change in outcomes between the pre-test and the post-test for both the CDDQ and the CAAS of the experimental and alternative groups.

With the qualitative data a majority of the 27 Grade 11 students who participated in the intervention reported that they benefited from the group counselling sessions. Below are excerpts of some of the responses two students who took part in the focus group interview. They responded to the question: “What has changed for you since the beginning of the intervention?”

Participant A: Before, I was so confused, I didn’t know after my matric what I am going to do, like to study and stuff like that, not because I don’t know what to do, but because I am good at many things. Like I am also confused I didn’t know what to choose and what I could choose… but after we did the questionnaires, I have realized my strengths and weaknesses. I do know, after matric what am I going to do. That is what has changed for me... I am going to focus on what I love doing, and that is music rapping. I will continue being a rapper, sir.

Participant B: What has changed in my schoolwork is that, first I didn’t do homeworks, like I used to do my homework in school early in morning and so on and so forth, but nowadays I do at home and those I don’t know I come… I come with them and people help me with them in school so that I can do them. And then, in the… after… before the program (intervention) I didn’t know the career I wanna do. I was so confused, I wanted to do three things which maybe I was not sure with them... Also, I wanted to be a financial accountant, I wanted to be a teacher, and I wanted to be a marketing person. So now I know… I think I know the things I wanna do. Maybe marketing will be good, because teaching is not for me and then Financial… Financial Management because Accounting is not easy for me nowadays because I don’t concentrate at school or in class whilst my teacher is teaching. So, maybe I will be doing… I will do Marketing for now. Sir, I will be sticking with Marketing now. And yeah… I am planning to study Marketing after Grade twelve.


  • Arora, R., & Rangnekar, S. (2016). Moderating mentoring relationships and career resilience: Role of conscientiousness personality disposition. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 31(1), 19-36.
  • Education, S. A. C. o. H. (2010). Access and throughput in South African higher education: Three case studies. Pretoria, South Africa: CHE.
  • Elwood, J., & Murphy, P. (2015). Assessment systems as cultural scripts: A sociocultural theoretical lens on assessment practice and products. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 22(2), 182-192.
  • Freeman, S. C. (1993). Donald Super: A perspective on career development. Journal of Career Development, 19(4), 255-264.
  • Maree, J. G. (2020). Counselling for self-and career construction outcomes for an adolescent boy with Tourette’s disorder: single participant intervention research. Early Child Development and Care, 190(16), 2627-2645.
  • Maree, J. G. (2017). Career Interest Profile: Technical Manual (6th ed.). Johannesburg, South Africa: JvR Psychometrics.
  • Masten, A. S. (2014). Global perspectives on resilience in children and youth. Child development, 85(1), 6-20.
  • Savickas, M. L., & Porfeli, E. J. (2012a). Career Adapt-abilities Scale: Construction, reliability, and measurement equivalence across 13 countries. Journal of Vocational Behaviour, 80(3), 661-673.
  • Theron, L. C., & Phasha, N. (2015). Cultural pathways to resilience: Opportunities and obstacles as recalled by black South African students. In Youth resilience and culture (pp. 51-65): Springer.

Jude Che is a doctoral student in Educational Psychology at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Mr. Che worked as a middle and high school teacher in rural and marginalized communities for several years during which he developed an interest in assisting students unlock career challenges before switching to Educational Psychology. Mr. Che is currently working on his dissertation under the supervision of Prof. Kobus Maree. This article describes the main focus of his research.

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Does the Harrison Career System Provide “Culture-Fair” Profiles?

By Ma. Corazon “Corie” M. Luz

Career Service Competencies:
2. Career Service Delivery
4. Career Development
5. Career Assessment
8. Professionalism
13. Diversity and Inclusion

The Harrison Career System strives hard to achieve inclusion and equality. First of all, it is quite comprehensive and includes 175 positive and negative factors. For instance, it measures task preferences as diverse as Artistic and Driving. Its 20-minute questionnaire has already been translated into 40+ languages, such as Thai and Turkish.

Founded in 1990, Harrison Assessments is propelled by the Enjoyment-Performance principle: Having a job doing what you love is the best route to self-actualization and success. But do their reports really avoid cultural biases? Are the results relevant to people of different ethnicities? Let’s hear what its proponents from different countries have to share.  

The Philippine Experience

The Ateneo de Manila University is one of the oldest Jesuit institutions of higher learning in Asia. Placement and Career Director Ronald Rodriguez says that any freshman or senior students can approach their office to seek clarification on their calling in life. If deemed helpful, he and his fellow counselors invite them to undergo Harrison Career profiling. After using In five years of use with students, the reports tend to affirm the students’ genuine strengths and validate their career interests. Since the Philippines is one of the largest English-speaking countries in the world, Ateneans prefer to accomplish the questionnaire and read their reports in English.

Probably because the great majority take up management courses, one student was surprised that a blue-collar job like Prison Warden turned up in his results. Mr. Rodriquez’s advice to his counselees: Don’t focus merely on the Top 10 options that appear in your personal career navigator system. Look further down the list on your laptop or cellphone screen if these are not directly aligned with what you’re leaning towards.

Mr. Rodriquez continues: Take a look at the common behaviors that underpin the careers that come up for you with 75-100% enjoyment ratings. For example, if you enjoy exhibiting the trait called “Enforcing,” you can study to be a Lawyer and then major in a related field (like Criminal Law, perhaps). He advises them not to close doors because, sometimes, students may simply lack information about certain occupations. Being interactive, they can spend time exploring their own Harrison system report and read up on various career descriptions and educational requirements that interest them.

The Singaporean Experience

For more than five years, two groups of students from a global leader in education and research, the Nanyang Technological University, have been using Harrison Career Reports. The first group uses the technology on a self-service basis as part of an online learning module. They generate their profiles themselves and are guided by a video on how to understand their results. 

For their so-called elite students, NTU arranges small workshops with external consultants like Positive Psychology Coach Karen Hee. This second group appreciates the value of these face-to-face interactions because their career reports gain greater meaning through frank discussions. The participants learn how to hone their own leadership skills, as well as to identify and groom others for leadership positions. 

In these school engagements and in her private practice, Karen observes that many teenagers and young adults—whether they come from Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, or China—do not really know themselves. By listening carefully, she sets them on a path of self-discovery. Their Harrison reports push them to explore their true purpose in choosing a tertiary course—not simply what their parents or peers prefer or because of a tempting scholarship offer. To do so, she believes that what’s crucial is the knowledge and skill of a consultant in contextualizing the assessment results within a client’s specific cultural situation.

She tells the story of one graduate who achieved a Biosciences degree with honors, but he did not want to work in a related field. He was struggling and pretty lost as to what he should do. She pointed out that one of his Harrison Career options was: Youth Worker. He then applied and joined a Community Development Council and ended up really enjoying organizing youth camps to promote racial harmony.

The Australian Experience  

Since 2016, there are now over ten thousand Grade 10 youths from both public and independent high schools in Queensland who complete the Harrison questionnaire every year—courtesy of TAFE (Technical and Further Education). Their Discover My Career – Powered by Harrison program seeks to provide “access to resources that enable students and their families to understand career options and to training and skill choices that put students on the right path to achieving their career ambitions.”  

For Executive Coach and Leadership Consultant Colin Noyes, these 15–16-year-old students are a microcosm of the Australian population, which has been touted as having the 2nd most multicultural society on earth. He believes in starting them young in the quest for their mission in life. Early on, they are encouraged to discover which careers they find enjoyable so they can align their future studies to support these choices. Their Harrison reports initiate this structured exploration in a school setting, with educational staff and parental support.

The off-the-shelf Harrison Career System offers 700+ careers with which profilees’ personal preferences and interests can be compared and matched. Because the software can be customized, Mr. Noyes reports that TAFE Queensland has opened up the possibilities of an even wider variety of pathways across 1,300+ careers (such as in the aerospace, manufacturing, and solar energy industries, which are currently booming in their country). This smorgasbord spurs students to consider many more careers which they might enjoy but did not know about. TAFE’s research shows that, on average, students may only be familiar with a handful. 

But whatever the culture, what seems universal is the undue influence that parents want to exert upon their children towards choosing the more financially rewarding professions. Mr. Noyes recounts how one girl’s Harrison Career Report listed Musician as a prime option, which was her strong inclination. Instead, her Mom and Dad were encouraging her to choose Medical Doctor, which was ranked much lower. Seeing their daughter’s results allowed the three of them to have a heart-to-heart conversation about her future. In the end, they respected her career aspirations. She is presently studying in a music conservatory, pursuing her passion. She is happy, her parents are happy, and they have a happy home. And isn’t that just the result that we wish a career assessment tool could create?

Ma. Corazon “Corie” M. Luz, Managing Director at Harrison Assessments, is a Clinical-Counseling Psychologist by training and a Human Resource Consultant by practice. She is based in the Philippines and works with Harrison Assessments clients there—as well as in the USA, China, and Southeast Asia.  

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Critical Success Factors for Guiding Adults in Career Transition (CT)

by Han Kok Kwang, APCDA’s 1st Legacy Partner Lifetime Member

Having facilitated career transition sessions for thousands of individuals of over 20 countries, from USA to China and Malaysia to Maldives, one key takeaway is this: Personal experiences of the clients matter more than country or culture.

I was fortunate to be in this privileged position because I was an MBA/MSc Lecturer in UK Universities offering programs in Singapore for almost 20 years. That’s where I met many of my international young adult students who came for their post-graduate studies because they hope to embark on a new career in a foreign country. As their lecturer cum mentor, career coaching service is part of the deal.

My private practice also afforded me the luxury to select who I work with, essentially individuals who are PHDs, ie. Passionate, Hungry and Driven:) Many people also approached me after I published my 2nd bestselling book, No Job? No Problem! in 2003.

Three key things I’ve learned about career transition for adults are as follows:

1.  Be mindful of the lens through which they see the world, with the work environment and co-workers playing a significant part

For instance, I’ve been helping the good people from the uniformed services (eg. Military, Police, Civil Defence, Prison Service, etc.) career transit since 2005. Many of them have served with distinction for over 25 years, keeping our streets and skies safe. That’s the only job they’ve ever knew. When they come to me for CT help, many of them are already in their late 40s/50s. Thus, transiting to a new career in the civilian world is a scary and anxiety-filled experience for them. They feel so vulnerable and unprepared without their uniform and/or rank.

Though they may interact with civilians in their course of work and even attend corporate training programs with civilians together at hotels (eg. Six sigma or Agile training), going to work with civilians freaked them out. They are so fearful about the different language, (eg. “bottom-line and market share”), the expectations (eg. “Can’t leave until the job is done”), or the alien feeling of working for someone many years their junior.

“One company, for life” was their ethos. That’s why content is less important than context when we work with them. Instead of telling them to go digital or change their mindset, we simply meet them where they are. We empathise with them, feel their anxiety and see the world from their perspective, before we even start any CT talk. Afterall, they don’t care about how much we know until they know how much we care. Unless they trust us, no coaching happens.

2.  Once we go international, we have to consider additional factors, like country, culture and language.

For instance, there was a specific client from the US. After working with her for a while, she asked me: “Why do you work so hard?” and “Why are you so driven?” On reflection, I realised that was primarily the achievement-driven culture in Singapore for many professionals. I had to be “more chill” to better connect with her.

I’m impressed when I worked with Vietnamese clients. They are one of the most respectful yet reticent people. They know their stuff, but are hesitant to speak up because they worry about their command of the English language. Thus, they find it very difficult to practice personal branding activities and standing out, in English. 

The good people from China are a super hardworking group. They truly believe that effort can overcome virtually any weakness.  I once had a client who memorized a company’s background from their annual report and website. But he didn’t do well at the interview because he couldn’t translate his “book knowledge” (information) into “performance indicators” (application) that matter to the company. Once he could connect the dots, he was unstoppable!

3.  Use culture-neutral tools as far as possible

To help clients in making informed career decisions, self-knowledge is critical. This is where career self-assessments are useful. But given the plethora of tools in the market, we must select those that are more culture-neutral to ensure no distortion in translation or interpretation.

One of my preferred tools is the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI). It is physiologically based and thus, more neutral and stable than others. I’ve used it with participants from over 20 countries, and the results are consistently valid for them. It helped them to discover their preferred decision-making style, which is super useful for finding the type of work they enjoy. I also developed my own card game (ie. Han Discovery Cards), which are based on the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of most private sector companies.

Finally, to be effective career facilitators that inspire client confidence in CT, we must look at the lens with which our clients see the world, as well as the lens with which we see the world, and be mindful that the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world.

As Spidey said, with great power comes great responsibility 

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Developing a ‘Culture-free’ Career Development Practice

Dr. Timothy Hsi

Career Services Competencies:
2. Client Service Delivery
4. Career Development
5. Career Assessment
8. Professionalism
13. Diversity and Inclusion

When I was approached to write this article considering the impact of culture in career practice (especially that of theories and assessment instruments), it struck me that this topic is seldom discussed at length in the various career practitioner trainings across Asia. On reflection, I am thinking that this lack of emphasis could be due to the reason that individuals tend to operate within their own cultural bubble or the fact that culture is such a broad term that educators and practitioners naturally avoid discussing this due to its inherent complexity.

Every one of us has our own ideas and expression of our culture. Some may consider culture to be shared values embraced by society while others may consider culture to be customs, practices and ideas specific to a certain group of people (for example, individuals with a physical disability, or young adults entering the workforce, etc.). Whatever the case may be, I am of the opinion that career practitioners have to be conscious of the diverse cultural backgrounds that our clients may come from and it is imperative that we ground our career practice in culturally competent ways that are relevant to our clients.

When I first received training by Dick Knowdell in 2013, I was struck by the simplicity of the Knowdell career card sort assessments as well as the Knowdell Transition model as a coaching framework. At that time, I had not thought much about the cultural applicability of the tools and models as I was just eager to apply them in my practice. When I introduced the card sort assessments as part of my coaching work with clients, very few clients questioned me about its cultural validity or reliability. In fact, most clients readily took to sorting the cards as if they were playing a game and a significant number being completely amazed at the insight they derived from the results of the sorting.

From 2015, I have had the opportunity to provide career development training to practitioners across the Asia Pacific region (which includes Thailand, Vietnam, China, Philippines, Hong Kong, Korea, Indonesia & Australia) using the Knowdell Transition framework as well as the Knowdell Career Assessment instruments. In each of these trainings, I was initially hesitant due to (then irrational) thoughts on whether the Knowdell framework and card sort instruments would be culturally relevant to these participants. I was keenly aware that every participant operated from within their own cultural backgrounds and in order to sidestep the question of cultural relevancy, I endeavored to emphasize to participants that they needed to adapt career development knowledge, frameworks and assessment instruments into their client’s cultural context. Unwittingly, I was advocating for participants to transform what were non-Asian ideas of career development into approaches that are relevant for their client’s cultural background. On hindsight, this approach was aligned to the idea of having a mindset of cultural specificity (Watson, Duarte & Glavin, 2005) when working with clients from different cultural backgrounds. According to the authors, cultural specificity is a mental stance whereby the focus of any assessment starts from the client’s cultural point of view and any theory, framework or assessment instrument results would be interpreted from that vista.

So, if career practitioners are to adopt a cultural specific mindset when working with clients, what about the Knowdell tools that they are being trained to use? Weren’t the assessment instruments culturally biased, seeing that they were created and published by an American, who obviously operates from a Western worldview? Or are the tools truly culture-free as claimed by Dick (Knowdell, 2003)?

To answer this question, it is informative to explore the intent when Dick launched the Knowdell career assessment instruments in the late 70s. At that time, his goal was to make career assessment tools easily available for use by career practitioners and clients (Knowdell, 2003). The purpose then was to ensure that the assessments were easy to use, yet provided relevant information that was useful as part of the career facilitation process. Ever since the cards were first published in 1977 in English, there were requests for translations into other languages across the world. Over the years, the cards were translated into Russian, Spanish, German, Japanese and over the last five years, other Asian languages such as Mandarin (traditional and modern), Vietnamese and Bahasa Indonesia were included as well. The applicability of the Knowdell cards across the different cultures (as evidenced by the extensive list of translated tools) provided a glimpse to the claim that they were indeed culture-free.

Delving further, I started examining the career guidance processes adopted when I worked with clients from different cultural backgrounds and discovered that every time a client sorted the cards (whether they be values, skills or even ideas around leisure), they did so according to meanings of work which were defined by their own cultural background, practices and interpretations.

Let me share two examples to illustrate this. On separate occasions, I had worked with two different clients, one from the Philippines and the other from Australia. When presented with the opportunity to determine their career values using the Knowdell career values card sort, both chose ‘community’ as an important value that drives them. However, upon further probing, I found that my Filipino client had interpreted ‘community’ from his cultural value of collectivism while my Australian client interpreted ‘community’ from the cultural value of individualism. In both cases, the clients selected the same card from the same tool but arrived at different meanings due to the way they interacted with the word through their cultural lenses.

To answer the question ‘are Knowdell tools and coaching frameworks culture-free’? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. In fact, I would venture further to emphasize that every framework or assessment tool in the career space that we are in has the potential to be culture-free because the goal is to provide our clients with assessment results that are based on principles and values which are completely aligned to their cultural backgrounds.

In conclusion, as the world becomes ‘flatter’ (Friedman, 2005) and the technological disruptions continue to level the playing field, it is inevitable that career practitioners will increasingly work with clients who are not culturally similar to them. It is in this space that we need to fully embrace the mindset of cultural specificity and to actively transform the career knowledge, frameworks and tools that has been taught to us into culturally relevant practices so that our clients are able to make clear, informed choices regarding their career future.


  • Friedman, T. L. (2005). It’s a flat world, after all. The New York Times, 3, 33-37.
  • Knowdell, R. (2003). Card Sort Career Assessment Tools. Career Planning and Adult Development Journal, 19(2), 150-159.
  • Watson, M., Duarte, M.E., & Glavin, K. (2005). Cross-cultural perspectives on career assessment. The Career Development Quarterly, 54(1), 29-35.

Dr. Timothy Hsi is the Founding President of the Career Development Association of Singapore (CDAS) and founder of Abundanz Consulting Pte Ltd.  He was instrumental in the development of a whole new generation of career practitioners in Singapore from 2015.  Dr. Tim currently teaches career counseling and psychotherapy at the Australian College of Applied Psychology and travels regularly across Asia, educating and training individuals to be career practitioners.

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Career Assessment and Culture

by Dr. Catherine Hughes, Grow Careers, RMIT University, Australia

The diversity of countries and regions represented by APCDA brings cultural diversity and career assessment to the forefront. Many Career Development Practitioners deliver career services in multi-cultural contexts and as such are faced with the challenge of using career assessment tools that are culturally appropriate for clients (Rossier & Duarte, 2019).

It is almost 10 years since I completed by PhD research involving a cross-cultural study that set out to compare the influence of self-concept, parenting style, and individualism-collectivism on career maturity of high school students across Australian and Thai cultural contexts. The study involved adapting four psychological instruments for research across Australian and Thai cultural contexts, eliminating cultural bias and establishing the equivalence of the instruments in both cultures (Hughes, 2011). This aspect of the study illustrates some of the challenges involved in applying psychological instruments such as career assessment inventories developed in one language and culture to a second language and culture.

The Career Development Inventory-Australia (CDI-A; Lokan, 1984) was selected as the measure of career maturity for the purposes of the study. The CDI-A is comprised of four scales.  The Career Planning (CP) scale measures orientation towards planning for future career pathways. The Career Exploration (CE) scale measures awareness and use of people, print, and digital resources for career exploration planning. The World of Work Information (WW) scale assesses knowledge of career development, occupations, education and training. The Decision Making (DM) scale presents career decision making scenarios and respondents choose the most appropriate response option.

This article describes the processes involved in adapting the CDI-A for use in Thailand and for valid comparison of career maturity across Thai and Australian cultural contexts. This will be followed by an invitation for APCDA members to submit blog articles about their experiences in developing, adapting or using culturally appropriate career assessments.

The adaptation of the CDI-A for Thailand was underpinned by the Universalist orientation to cross-cultural psychology (Berry et al., 1992). Accordingly, it was assumed that career maturity is likely to be similar across cultures, but is influenced by cultural context. The Universalist theoretical orientation compares with Relativism, which assumes that psychological differences between societies throughout the world can only be explained by the cultural context and Absolutism which assumes that psychological concepts are essentially the same and have the same meaning in all cultures. Relativism avoids adapting instruments for another culture, Absolutism readily adapts instruments for another culture. and Universalism supports the adaptation of psychological instruments after appropriate modifications are made to account for local cultural understandings (Berry et al.)

The adaptation of the CDI-A for Thailand applied Berry’s (1969) combined etic-emic model for adapting instruments for cross-cultural research. Etics refers to ideas, behaviours, concepts and other elements of culture that are universal, common, or culture-general. Etic concepts are assumed to be culture-free, or at least to apply in more than one culture. Emics refers to ideas, behaviours concepts and other elements of culture that are local, unique, or culture-specific (Triandis, 1994; Berry et al., 1992). The combined etic-emic approach involves transporting an instrument into the target culture as an ‘imposed etic’. Using an iterative process, changes are made to account for local cultural understandings with the aim of achieving a ‘derived etic’. When a ‘derived etic’ is achieved the instrument is considered suitable for application across the cultures concerned.

Applying the combined etic-emic approach to the adaptation of the CDI-A included these steps:

  1. Inspection of the CDI-A to identify cultural bias. The WW and the DM scales contained several references to the Australian world of work and education and training system. These scales were emic to Australia and were not appropriate for adaptation for Thailand.
  2. Inspection of the CP and CE scales by bi-lingual Thai academics with expertise in career development, who advised that the CP and CE and were suitable for adaptation for Thailand.
  3. Translation of the CP and CE scales into Thai language. This was followed by independent back translation to evaluate translation quality, identify etic and emic aspects, and where needed to culturally decenter the instrument by modifying the Thai and Australian versions to account for local cultural understandings (Werner & Campbell, 1970). For example, the Thai back-translation of CE items concerned with digital career exploration was applied to the CDI-A as the Thai back-translation wording better reflected contemporary exploratory resources in both countries. The CDI-A CP item concerned with seeking part-time work to explore an occupation or earn income to support study was emic to Australia. The Thai back-translator advised that it is uncommon for Thai high school students to work part-time, but if they did, it would likely be in a family business and the meaning would be related to family obligation.
  4. Field testing of the modified Thai translation by 18 Thai high school students aged 14-18 years who checked the scales for understanding of the instructions and item content, suitability of the language, and familiarity of the response format. Changes suggested by the Thai students were included. These changes made the language less formal and more suitable for Thai adolescents.
  5. The final Thai version of the CP and CE scales was reviewed by a Thai academic with expertise in career development and confirmed as appropriate for administration to Thai students.
  6. A study involving a sample of Year 9 and Year 11 Australian and Mathayom Suksa 3 (i.e., Year 9) and Mathayom Suksa 5 (i.e. Year 11) Thai students assessed the psychometric properties and cross-cultural equivalence of the Australian and Thai CP and CE scales. The Thai CP scale had adequate internal consistency reliability and test-retest reliability over a 10-day interval. The Thai CE scale had poor internal consistency and test-retest reliability.  The Australian CP and CE scales had adequate reliability. Principal component analysis and computation of congruence coefficients provided some support for the construct validity and equivalence of the Australian and Thai CP scale.

The combined etic-emic process described above resulted in the achievement of derived etic status across Thai and Australian cultural contexts for only the CP scale of the CDI-A.

The application of the Universalist approach to cross-cultural research and the combined etic-emic model of adapting the CDI-A for Thailand highlights the need for rigour and critical evaluation of the cultural applicability of career assessment instruments transported from one language and culture into a second language and culture. 

Processes similar to those used to adapt the CDI-A for Thailand by eliminating cultural bias and establishing instrument equivalence are time-consuming and expensive to put into practice. Similarly, from a Relativist theoretical perspective, developing local, culture-specific career assessment instruments is also time-consuming and expensive. What are busy career practitioners working in multi-cultural or cross-cultural contexts to do? Leong and Serafica (2001) describe a cultural accommodation approach, which involves identifying cultural gaps in an existing theory or assessment tool, identifying and adding culture-specific aspects to accommodate the theory or assessment tool to the new culture, and testing the culturally accommodated theory or assessment tool to determine whether it has increased validity over and above the original. Rossier and Duarte (2019) recommend integrated approaches that go beyond quantitative career assessment, such as combining multiple approaches to career assessment or blending objective, subjective, contextual and cultural information.

You are invited to keep the conversation about career assessment and culture going during February, March and April. You are invited to contribute articles (approximately 600-1,000 words) for publication in Career Trends. Topics include:

  1. Cultural adaptation of career theories, practices or career assessment instruments in your country.
  2. Development of local culturally relevant career assessment tools or practices.
  3. International collaborations examining cultural or national differences in career development or cross-cultural research collaborations.

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Your articles can be emailed to:


  1. Berry, J. W. (1969). On cross-cultural comparability. International Journal of Psychology, 4, 119-128.
  2. Berry, J. W., Poortinga, Y. H., Segall, M. H., & Dasen, P. R. (1992). Cross-cultural psychology:  Research and applications. Cambridge University Press.
  3. Hughes, C. (2011). The influence of self-concept, parenting style and individualism-collectivism on career maturity in Australia and Thailand. International Journal of Educational and Vocational Guidance, 11, 197-210.
  4. Leong, F. T. L. & Serafica, F. C. (2001). Cross-cultural perspective on Super’s career development theory: Career maturity and cultural accommodation. In F. T. L. Leong & A. Barak (Eds.), Contemporary models in vocational psychology: A volume in honor of Samuel H. Osipow (pp. 167-205). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  5. Lokan, J. (1984a) Career Development Inventory Australia Manual. Australian Council of Educational Research.
  6. Rossier, J. & Duarte, M. E. (2019). Testing and assessment in an international context: Cross- and multi-cultural issues. In J. A. Athanasou & H. N. Perera (Eds.). International handbook of career guidance (2nd ed.) (pp. 613-637). Springer.             
  7. Triandis, H. C. (1994). Culture and social behaviour. Graw-Hill.
  8. Werner, O. & Campbell, D. (1970). Translating, working through interpreters, and the problem of decentring. In R. Naroll & R. Cohen (Eds.) A handbook of method in cultural anthropology (pp. 398-420). Natural History Press.

APCDA Competencies:

  • Career Development
  • Ethics
  • Research
  • Diversity and Inclusion

Webinar by Dr. Farouk Dey

Reviewed by Dr. Rich Feller

Global career services shifted on November 16. Farouk Dey’s APCDA seminar shook me. If you missed it, click here to register for the free recording.

Most APCDA webinars provide interesting concepts causing us to evaluate our career work, or to cautiously implement the skills we learned.  As experienced career practitioners with many tools we are most comfortable with the insights with which we were trained.  Webinars nudge us to make small changes, but the change is typically gradual.  Incorporating a new vision takes energy to overcome habits. Learning new tools requires study and overcoming resistance.

Dr. Dey’s webinar challenges us to unpack our thinking and fill it with some different tools.  Are we willing to do that? What kind of leadership does he ask of us?  When career needs are increasing and resources are stable at best, what outcomes will we obtain if we do more of the same?

Most career practitioners first think “work with clients one-on-one”.  Will there ever be enough career practitioners to serve infinite career decision making needs with that mindset?  We all see the need to serve more clients, scale programs, and provide more efficient human-centric services. A key is building structures so that every student is engaged in designing their careers. 

Encouraging clients to make audacious choices, develop curiosity, seek inspiration, embrace self-direction, and access networks in order to connect to opportunity are now essential. 

Join the dialog.  Watch Dr Dey’s free webinar and discuss these ideas with other members and colleagues.  How can these ideas be useful in your setting?  I’m confident this discussion is especially relevant to our career services work. I’m so glad Farouk shook me.

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Review of the Post-Pandemic Labor Market Panel Webinar

The first panelist was Mr. Rahul Nair, Co-Founder and Chief Lifologist, who is responsible for the Lifology software and assessments, as well as training Lifologists (career coaches). He pointed out how much has changed in India during the pandemic: 

Before COVID

Current Labor Market


6.1% growth (2018), 4.2% (2019)

0.2 – 0.8 (estimate)

Exports & International Trade


Closed, Essentials only

Growing Industries

Sports. Entertainment, eCommerce, and Manufacturing

eCommerce, Agriculture

Emerging Technologies

Education, Banking, eCommerce

Medical/Heath Care, Education, Communications Technologies, and eCommerce

Our regional meetings predict an increase in the number of people who work from home in the future.  Mr. Nair noted that, in India, working from home has led to a productivity decrease due to multigenerational homes with traditional family roles.  Indian companies are now looking for “Work near home” arrangements.  Employers are seeking low-cost office space for clusters of employees who live near each other so employees can separate home and work and have a good Internet connection.

Mr. Nair also shared a tantalizing list of Emerging Careers which you can see by watching the recorded webinar.

Dr. Hao Zhang, a Professor of Labor Relations at Renmin University in Beijing, described two relevant structures in the Informal Sector in China.  The Informal Sector is helping to provide stability in the labor market in China because the large employers in the Formal Sector have been deeply hurt by the pandemic.  As in most countries, companies such as Uber and Air B&B have connected informal, temporary workers to customers, create the “Gig Economy.” 78 Million Chinese workers are now believed to be informal, temporary workers.

A new, different kind of temporary worker has emerged in China during the pandemic.  Like most countries, parts of the economy that are heavily impacted by the pandemic can no longer pay their employees.  Yet other parts of the economy need workers.  If the employer can find temporary work for its own employees, then the closed business and the laid-off workers are both happy.  For example, many restaurants are closed, but grocery stores need extra stock clerks to keep the shelves filled.  If the restaurant can “share” its workers with a local grocery, the employees earn a living, but still expect to return to their former jobs post-pandemic. 

Dr. Fei Yu, Deputy Representative in the North American Office of the Asian Development Bank, offered many important insights into the nature of the labor market in Asia.  One of several important concepts that she mentioned is the concept of Global Blockchain.  The global blockchain technology industry is currently valued at 3 million USD but growing rapidly.  This technology allows information about products (source, purity, harvest conditions, etc.) to be related to the product no matter where it ends up and which currencies were used to price it.  Global suppliers and shippers need this technology to trace transactions to avoid the confusion related to currency conversion, government regulations, agreements between parties, etc.  For example, assume you are purchasing thousands of facemasks and comparing prices, quality, size, on-time reputation of manufacturer, etc. in India, China, Malaysia, etc. The number of variables could be overwhelming.  It would be convenient to see all of the specifications for each facemask in your own local currency, local system of measurement, etc. on a single list on a computer screen.  Of course, Blockchain is much more, but that is part of what it can do.  It also makes it possible to compare productivity, labor costs, etc. in the many countries in our region.

This is only a tiny glimpse of the topics covered in this fast-moving webinar.  The webinar was recorded and is free to members.  Non-members pay a small fee to watch it.  Click here to view the recorded webinar.

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Supporting College Students for Post-Graduation Time-Off in the Age of COVID-19

by Satomi Chudasama

COVID-19 came upon us very quickly, and we were caught off guard. It turned our world upside down, and some of our “normal” became a thing of the past. With a rapidly changing economic and employment landscape, many of the Class of 2020 college graduates are faced with uncertainty about their post-graduation plans. Some are now considering an alternative plan instead of seeking full-time employment. Call it a “gap-year,” “a time-off”, or “taking a break” - whatever it is, this is potentially an option for some graduates until they identify their next move.

As a career development professional supporting those new college graduates, you might ask what they can do during this time before pursuing full-time employment. To put it simply, the answer is “many options.” Of course, each graduate has a unique situation. Their situations may be impacted by multiple factors, including their family circumstances, country’s economic and political situations, cultural norms, self and family expectations, and so on. What seems like a good option for someone may not be an option for someone else. There is nothing like “one size fits all.” As career development professionals, we need to think creatively and flexibly and work together with your students to develop an individualized, viable plan. Help your students reframe the way they look at “post-graduation” plans. Here are some ideas:

  • Skill and Knowledge Development through a Series of Internships, Volunteers, or Short-Term Gigs
    • Some employers are open to hiring interns who are recent graduates. Not many employers publicize “post-graduation internships”, however; sometimes you just have to proactively inquire. Some of these opportunities may include structured community service programs.
    • If your students are able, another option is to volunteer for an organization dealing with issues they care about. Spending the time to develop transferable skills and insights into social issues can be empowering and fulfilling for some of your students. Websites such as Idealist offer nonprofit opportunities by issue areas around the world. 
    • Short-term projects for someone or self-initiated projects are one of the ways to develop relevant and transferable skills and knowledge. For example, your students can reach out to a small business impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, conduct an informational interview to identify what your students can help with, and propose a project they can work on; such as launching a marketing campaign targeting the young generation or developing a model that offers unparalleled service to customers and increases revenues. Even if they are not paid, these types of experiences enable your students to learn skills and on-the-ground of the work world that will help them later on. Moreover, other short-term positions that your students might have considered a “side job” while in college may still offer some valuable skills and good work ethic after graduation. It may be just a matter of how they present to future employers.
  • Skill and Knowledge Development through Courses
    Thanks to technology, there is a vast range of classes your students can take online. Some of those courses are available at free of charge. What have they always wanted to learn or just try for fun? This might be a perfect time to do something for themselves. In those activities, your students may have a new, exciting discovery.
  • Relax and Reflect
    If your students prefer to relax for some time, let them know that it is okay. They are still likely to do something each day. What do they feel like doing? What are they reading? Where are they going and why? In a time when they have no agenda, your students are likely to focus on something that is interesting and exciting; those activities may hold some key for their future directions and serve as a great opportunity for self-reflection. Encourage them to keep a journal of whatever comes to their mind and what they observe.

No matter what your students decide to do, two things remain important: self-reflection and networking. As many of us are aware, career paths are rarely linear. Why does this happen? As we manage our own career development and growth in the 21st century, we are more inclined to consciously change our workplaces and careers based on constant self-reflection and evaluation. This process does not have to wait until your students have first full-time employment. In fact, this flexible time is a great opportunity for self-exploration and reflection. What is important for them, what motivates and inspires them, what they enjoy, what they are good at, who they really are, what they want to be, etc. are all great realizations worthy of journaling and being considered for their next stage of career journeys. They are likely to have more time to internally stay close to themselves and might find some eye-opening aspects of themselves. These findings will fuel their aspirations for the future. While journaling, it is also helpful to make notes of learning and negative findings, e.g., what they didn’t like, what disappoints and discourages them, what environment hinders their strengths and enthusiasm. Journaling does not have to involve a notebook. They can also use a worksheet created by you or your students, a whiteboard or Trello board with categories of interests, skills, values, accomplishments, etc. and organize their thoughts, learning, and realizations.

Networking is a great way to explore themselves while gathering information, knowledge, and advice and getting to know others. My definition of networking is not limited to professional contacts. Rather, it includes anyone and everyone your students encounter. Encourage your students to be curious and ask about other people’s life stories. They will learn a tremendous amount of insights into different perspectives, career and life options, career trajectories, and life experiences in general. And motivate your students to stay in touch with all of them - literally all of them - to a point that they feel comfortable with contacting each other any time. That is the genuine power of networking - not superficial contacts you may awkwardly reach out to only when you are in a job market. The relationship I am referring to here is powerful and lasts long.

Finally, I urge you, as a career development professional, to stay in touch with your students as much as possible. Let them know that you are available to support them through their journeys, be their sounding board and adviser, and provide helpful resources. You do not know when and how they need you in the coming months. As career development professionals, we are in this together with your students and can help them emerge from this uncertain time with new strengths.

Satomi Chudasama, NCC, CCC, GCDF, is a founding member of APCDA and the current chair of the Public Relations Committee. Originally from Japan, she has been working in the career development field in higher education institutions in the United States for almost 20 years. Satomi is passionate about helping people identify and pursue their career aspirations as well as global career development and cultural transitions. She is currently working in the Office of Career Services at Princeton University where she has spent 13 years in career counseling and employer engagement.

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Post-Pandemic World of Work

Virtual Regional Member Discussions

by Marilyn Maze, PhD

The Virtual Regional Member Discussions began with the Western North America Region on May 11. Europe and West Asia Region met on May 13, Middle East Region met on May 16, and South India Region met on May 17.  Click here for a schedule of up-coming meetings.  So far, many valuable insights have been shared and attendees enjoyed the experience.

Many of the insights shared relate to the current situation.  Rapidly changing painful situations make it difficult to focus on the future.  In the Western North America region, we noted the breakdown of the global distribution system has forced rapid adaptation, such as new mask making companies, local farms or fishers selling direct to homes, and adoption of new management techniques to supervise people working from home. Counselors and career practitioners are essential workers right now, and busier than ever trying to help students and clients virtually.  With children attending school from home, parents are involved in helping their children in new ways.  Parents now need help learning about career planning and understanding career terminology. One of the skills highly valued in our field is Systems Thinking.  We can now see that some governments are using Systems Thinking successfully and others are failing to use it. 

COVID attacks older people more severely, forcing older people to self-isolate.  Ageism is increasing as older people either adapt to online communication or become increasingly isolated.  The Urban/Rural Divide has become more obvious.  Many people in cities have Internet, but many rural areas do not.  In cities, social distancing means staying inside.  In rural areas, much of life is lived outside and people travel long distances for groceries and other necessities.  At the same time, poverty is highlighted.  Unemployment in the US is now 15% – the highest unemployment since the Great Depression.  Hiring at this time is mostly for delivery drivers, grocery workers, and contact tracers.  Children with computers have been learning online, but children without computers or Internet access are not learning.  People who can work from home are much more likely to be educated.  In the US, over 60% of people with a college degree can work from home, while people with less education are often “frontline workers” – exposed daily to COVID as they work in essential businesses, deliver food and purchases to homes, work in hospitals, and provide other essential services.  Minorities and low-paid workers are getting sick and dying at much higher rates than non-minorities.

How many of these changes will continue post-COVID?

Once the world has become increasingly virtual, it is likely that it will not go back.  The Twitter company has announced that its employees are welcome to continue working from home permanently. It is likely many other tech companies will follow.  Of course, this is bad news for Commercial Real Estate rental, sales, and construction.  It may also be bad news for extroverts, while introverts may have an advantage in the new virtual world.  When will we again hold large gatherings such as live performances, sports events, and conferences?  When will we again travel internationally for pleasure, or even for business?  Certainly, the entertainment and hospitality industries will be slow to recover, and it may be a long time before they reach pre-pandemic levels.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues forward.  People working in this field easily adapted to working from home and we can expect new uses of AI to change our lives at a rapid rate.  In fact, COVID may have boosted the rate of change by forcing us to adapt rapidly, thus accelerating our ability to adapt to and adopt new technologies.  Good communication skills will also be in demand, whether to help others understand the information produced by AI or to teach others to use new technology.  Luckily, career practitioners have good communication skills.

Change will be a constant.  People who adapt well to change will increasingly be rewarded financially.  Those who do not adapt to change will be financially disadvantaged.  We often talk about the Gig Economy and train clients to decide who they are so they can select meaningful “gigs” or projects which help them learn new skills while earning a decent income.  We say that these people have Self-Sustaining Careers.  We increasingly encourage clients to start boutique businesses that serve specific needs on a small scale, such as small farms producing high quality food, small hotels serving specific populations, or small services meeting specific needs.  Some of these boutique businesses meet needs that are surprisingly common and grow into large companies.  An essential skill for entrepreneurship is Self-Efficacy.

In the US, corporations currently employ large numbers of temporary workers.  This name is misleading because the work is not temporary.  The work done by temporary workers constantly increases, but workers hired on a temporary basis do not have benefits (such as health insurance), do not have a regular schedule, are paid as little as possible, and are only paid when they work.  Some estimate that temporary workers make up as much as 40% of the US labor market, although no data is collected. Because their schedule changes constantly, they cannot train for a better job.  When these workers get sick, they have no income and no way to pay for health care.  Many frontline workers are temporary workers, so a high proportion of COVID cases are in this group. Through a temporary workforce, risk is transferred from the employer to the employee.  Temporary workers have the least resources to cope with risk, but they bear the highest risk.  As COVID-related corporate bankruptcies increase, many more workers are likely to join the temporary workforce.  Many career practitioners are deeply concerned about this population as the situation worsens.

As the world changes rapidly, Trust Communities gain in value.  Many people choose to work with companies (banks, grocery stores, etc.) who they trust to treat them well, to live in communities of like-minded people who they trust to have similar values, and to help others in their community who need their help.  Schools and Colleges often strive to develop trust communities, so their students feel comfortable and safe developing skills in these institutions. 

Hope is extremely helpful during stressful times. If we can help clients to engage with a hopeful attitude, this attitude will open opportunities for them.

What changes are you seeing now and in the future?  Join the discussion in your region and share your insights.

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Thriving through Change: In Giving We Receive

by Allan Gatenby, FRIEdr FRIM CMF JP

Globally member-based organizations are struggling to keep the members engaged. It seems that globally people have developed a mindset that you pay a membership fee to receive a service. Yet we also know from Linda Hill’s research the organizations which thrive in times of rapid change are those in which leaders are architects of a culture of collaboration. If we know this why is it that so many organizations are struggling to survive rather than thrive?

This year I was award the President’s Award for services to APCDA. This is a great honour and I humbly making the comment that I never set out with the intent of being recognized. Rather I was raised in the belief that if something is worth doing then do it well, the first time. Also, I watched my parents live their life very much in the spirit of St Francis of Assisi; “it is in giving that we receive.” Each, in their own way dedicated themselves to serving the community. This was to be their legacy and my guide.

I have had a remarkably fortunate life, full of opportunity and countless challenges. The one thing that has kept me young is to contribute to a greater good. I was never comfortable with the idea that the centre of my universe is me. The me view and teaching tended to overlook the importance of we. In fact, collegiality and comradeship were the only things that enabled me to be resilient and thrive, personally and professionally.

Try this simple experiment; get a bag of sand, rice, soil, flour (whatever is convenient) and with 1 hand scoop up as much from that bag as you can. Place that on some measuring scales. You now know the mass of material gathered by 1 hand. Repeat this using the other hand and place that on the same scales. You now know the mass of material of 2 hands working independently. Now using both hands, working together as they are designed to do, scoop up as much of that material and measure the mass of the 2 hands working together. No surprises here. 2 hands working together achieves much more. So, it is with people. Together Everyone Achieves More (TEAM).

In our world motivation and education has been built around competition. Collaboration is poorly understood and difficult to embed. The donkey cartoon helps us to unpack the essentials of collaboration. Humans, like the donkeys, are typically competitive. They strive to satisfy their own needs before and often, at the expense of others. However, in high performing teams’ competitive tendencies are focussed upon the task and the solution focusses upon collaboration. As in the cartoon competitiveness continues until the team members stop, sit, talk, plan, and presumably decide how to work together so that they both achieve their goal (agreement). What is often overlooked is the significance of risk taking and trust in the relationship. At least one of the parties takes the risk that the other will honour their agreement. Collaboration requires analytical skills, communication, acceptance, decision making, risk taking and ultimately trust. This is quite a different mindset to that of the competitor mindset.

In order to collaborate, partners need what Covey referred to as abundance mentality. Ben Zander talks about the art of possibility. Both are referring to the process of creative new thoughts whilst retaining the original idea. If I were to ask you, “is 1+1=3 true or false?” most would answer false. We have been taught well by our teachers and life that 1+1=2. Yet if I were to ask you “could 1+1=3 then the answer can be yes. We can think of lots of examples which all demonstrate creativity, abundance mentality and the art of possibility. Synergistic thinking, new creation, innovation are elements of entrepreneurship, that which we are increasingly called upon to help develop.

APCDA is an amazing professional community. Founded on passion, collegiality, goodwill and outreach it has quickly grown to a significant body with Asia Pacific. Leadership has and remains focussed upon building community and collegiality. The key challenge remains, how best to engage members. Triggered by receiving the President’s Award and reflecting upon my experience I share these key ideas:

Consider the possible outcomes of contributing to the Association. Write an article, phone a friend, create a discussion group, post a blog, reach out for ideas thoughts, partnership. Give something. The act of giving will be returned many-fold.

Look for a team, a partner. Adopt, embrace and advocate collaboration. Yes, we are competitors in a sense (especially private practitioners) but like the left and the right hand when we work together, each from our own orientation perspective, the outcome is always greater than if working alone. Working together lightens the load, creates abundance and enables us to think and live beyond our individual experience.

Create moments and opportunities to sit, discuss, plan, take a risk and hand I hand help each other. Collaboration is not difficult, and the rewards are exponentially abundant.

Set yourself a goal that you will make at least 1 contribution, share 1 professional insight to the Association each year. You will be amazed at what happens.

Allan Gatenby is a private practitioner with a long and extraordinarily successful career in educational leadership, career development and life-design coaching. His postgraduate work is in leadership and change. He was a facilitator in both the Franklin Covey Institute and the Glasser Institute. He is the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Institute of Career Certification International, Member of the Leadership Team APCDA, chairing the Committee Council and By-Laws Committee. He is Director of OneGroup Leadership and Associated Career Professionals International.

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The Economic Impact of the Coronavirus in Asia Pacific

By Han Kok Kwang
Director, Personal Mastery Resources
1st Legacy Partner Lifetime Member, APCDA

From experience, Health Outbreaks like SARS (8,000 affected) and the coronavirus: COVID-19 (70,000+ affected to date) often trigger multilateral issues, involving economic, business, medical and personal concerns.

Governments in affected economies have been prompt in handling public information and announcements on what the public should (wash hands often, monitor health, wear a mask when unwell, etc.) and should not do (panic) amid a health scare. Though it is still evolving, economies are already hurting from this Outbreak.

Though the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s experience with SARS 18 years ago tells us that the Asia-Pacific has the wherewithal to cope with such events, it is a different ballgame today. China accounts for 21.4 percent of world GDP (in Purchasing Power Parity, as of end-2018) compared to around 4.5 percent during the SARS outbreak. What happens in China now has almost 5X the impact on the world, compared to the days of SARS.

Being the de facto Factory of the World, China is a key link for many international supply chains. With increased interconnectedness of the global economy, the impact is amplified many times. Prior to COVID-19, US’s trade war with China has already disrupted the region. Now it’s gotten worse. Lower Chinese import demand is a key reason for the slowing growth in virtually the whole region.

Asia-Pacific currencies also tumble under the weight of coronavirus, with Australia and Thailand the worst hit on concern over Chinese demand for minerals and tourism. Christy Tan, Asia head of markets strategy and research at Melbourne-based banking group NAB, said “From a trade war to a war against a virus. It’s a shock to financial markets, to the global growth situation.”

China’s 168 million citizen-tourists in 2019 was also a major revenue source for tourism sectors of many countries.  There is already an observed decline in travel and tourism, including the APCDA Conference 2020 in India. The collateral damage on retail, hospitality receipts and transport sales are expected to reverberate around the world.

In the words of the Prime Minster of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong: "The impact will be significant at least in the next couple of quarters. It is a very intense outbreak. I can't say whether we will have a recession or not. It's possible, but definitely our economy will take a hit. Business at the renowned Changi Airport had suffered with flights down by a third.”

In summary, it’s going to be a long night.

The good news? There’ll be a morning after.

Economies will bounce back, like they always do.

Key lesson learnt?

This Outbreak will not be the last.  Fear is a natural human emotion. But we cannot be paralyzed by fear, which is False Evidence Appearing Real. When in doubt, always look for objective evidence.

While COVID-19 has dominated the media, that vigilance should be balanced with the understanding that influenza is more prevalent and much more likely to impact Americans, says Libby Richards, an associate professor of nursing in Purdue University’s School of Nursing.

The surveillance report for the week ending February 1, 2020, shows flu activity increased in many reporting areas in the US. The report also shows 22 million Americans have suffered from the flu, and that 12,000 adults and 78 children have died during this flu season, which began in October 2019. This shows that economies also have local concerns, in addition to the COVID-19 Outbreak.

Life must go on. As progressive Career Practitioners, we must be ready when the Sun shines again. We are the talent scouts and keepers of the faith. Yes, take all the necessary precautions we need but downtime is the best time for us to dig in, do the work and get ready for the upturn.

Embrace digital wholeheartedly. Leverage Artificial Intelligence to enhance our offerings. Learn how to provide career services even when we cannot do it face to face. Doing so will stand us in good stead because contactless career guidance will figure prominently in the Future of Work, with or without an Outbreak.

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Career Adaptability:

An Essential Construct for Career Development Practice

Catherine Hughes. PhD
Grow Careers,

It is generally accepted that individuals need to be adaptable to succeed in the contemporary world of work characterized by changing skills requirements, short-term contract work, less secure work arrangements, technological change and more. The concept of career adaptability has featured prominently in the career development literature in recent years. But where did this concept come from? What is career adaptability? How can career practitioners apply career adaptability to support their clients?

Origins of Career Adaptability

Career adaptability first appeared in the career development literature when the usefulness of career maturity for adult career development was questioned. Career maturity refers to career choice readiness and methods of coping with age-appropriate vocational development tasks (Super, 1990). Adaptation to vocational development tasks rather than maturation was considered to be the central process of adult career development (Super & Knasel, 1981). Adaptation accounts more adequately than maturation for the recycling through life stages and revisiting vocational development tasks that adults do when they are faced with expected or unexpected career transitions at varying times throughout their working life. This prompted Super (1983) to reserve career maturity for adolescent career development and recommend career adaptability as the corresponding term for adult career development. In more recent times questions were raised about the relevance of career maturity in diverse and multicultural contexts where contextual factors may influence the timing and nature of the vocational development tasks that adolescents face (Watson, 2008). Concerns such as this resulted in career adaptability being generalized across the life-span as the central career development process for children, adolescents and adults (Savickas, 1997).

Career Adaptability Now

Over the last decade career adaptability has been explained in career construction theory (Savickas, 2013) and has been widely researched (Johnston, 2018 ). Career construction theory proposes that the adaptation that is required to fit oneself to a new environment or changing context results from a sequence of:

  1. Adaptivity, or readiness to meet vocational development tasks, transitions and work traumas
  2. Adaptability, or internal resources to cope with vocational development tasks, transitions and traumas
  3. Adapting, or behavioral responses to vocational development tasks, transitions and traumas.
Savickas (2013, p. 157) noted that “People are more or less prepared to change, differ in their resources to manage change, demonstrate more or less change when change is needed, and as a result, become more or less integrated into life roles over time.”

In career construction theory, career adaptability is one element of adaptation. More specifically, Savickas and Porfeli (2012, p. 662) define career adaptability as “… a psychosocial construct that denotes an individual’s readiness and resources for coping with current and anticipated tasks, transitions, and traumas in their occupational roles …” Career adaptability is comprised of four dimensions, or career adapt-ability resources (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012):

  1. Concern about one’s vocational future and preparing for what lies ahead.
  2. Control by taking responsibility and a conscientious, deliberate and decisive approach to dealing with vocational development tasks, career transitions and work traumas.
  3. Curiosity by engaging in exploratory and information-seeking experiences to try out possible selves and future work scenarios.
  4. Confidence in one’s ability to prepare and execute action plans to implement one’s career aspirations.

In essence, people who show concern about their vocational future, who believe they have some control over it and are deliberate and decisive in dealing with vocational development tasks, transitions and work traumas, who are curious about possible future selves and work scenarios and who feel confident about their capacity to implement their goals possess the internal coping resources to respond with fitting behaviors to new or changed career circumstances.

“Increasing a person’s career adaptability resources, or career adapt-abilities is a central goal in career education and counseling” (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012, p. 663). Accordingly, career adaptability is a construct of great importance to the everyday work of career practitioners.

Applying Career Adaptability

The Career Adapt-Abilties Scale (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012) was developed in collaboration with researchers from 13 different countries. This instrument is freely available from The Career Adapt-Abilties Scale is comprised of 24 items and yields a total career adapt-abilities score. The first six items relate to the Concern Dimension, the next six items relate to the Control Dimension, the next six relate to the Curiosity Dimension and the final six items relate to the Confidence Dimension. This means that scores for each career adaptability dimension can be calculated to more precisely identify student or client career adaptability strengths and career adaptability resources that need further development.

The Career Adapt-Abilities Scale can be used to support career interventions in one-to-one career counseling, group career counseling, career education workshops or career classes. For example:

  1. The Career Adapt-Abilities Scale could be used to assess the effectiveness of one-to-one career counseling or group career interventions such as career classes, workshops or group career counseling. It could be administered as a pre-test instrument to assess student or client career adapt-ability resources, design relevant career interventions and administer as a post-test measure to assess the effectiveness of the career interventions in improving student or client career adapt-ability resources.
  2. The Career Adapt-Abilities Scale could be used as a readiness screening instrument to assist in determining a suitable level of career service delivery for students or clients (Hughes, 2017; Sampson, Reardon, Peterson, & Lenz, 2004).
  3. The Career Adapt-Abilities Scale could be administered prior to a one-to-one career counselling program in a school context. Student responses to the Career Adapt-Abilties scale could be a discussion starter in a career interview.
  4. The Career Adapt-Abilities Scale could be used as stimulus for career education lessons. Students could identify their own career adapt-ability resource strengths and those needing further development and design their own career learning contract. Alternatively, career adaptability profile case studies could be developed for small group discussion in a classroom setting.

In summary, career adaptability is a career development construct that is associated with career construction theory. It is highly relevant to the day-to-day work of career practitioners. The Career Adapt-Abilities Scale is freely available and can be used in a variety of ways to assess and enhance student or client career adaptability and their capacity to respond appropriately to vocational development tasks, career transitions and work traumas throughout life.


Hughes, C. (2017). Careers work in schools: cost-effective career services. Samford Valley, Queensland, Australia: Australian Academic Press Group.

Johnston, C. S. (2018). A systematic review of the career adaptability literature and future outlook. Journal of Career Assessment, 26, 3-30. DOI; 10.1177/1069072716679921.

Sampson, J. P., Reardon, R. C., Peterson, G. W. & Lenz, J. G. (2004). Career counseling & services: A cognitive information processing approach. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole – Thompson Learning.

Savickas, M. L. (1997). Career adaptability: An integrative construct for life-span, life-space theory. The Career Development Quarterly, 45, 247-259.

Savickas, M. L. (2013). Career construction theory and practice. In S. B. Brown & R.W. Lent (2013). Career development and counseling: Putting theory and research to work (2nd ed., pp. 147-183). Hoboken: NJ, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Savickas & Porfeli (2012). Career Adapt-Abilities Inventory: Construction, reliability, and measurement equivalence across 13 countries. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80, 661-673. DOI: 10.1016/j.jvb.2012.01.011

Super, D. E. (1983). Assessment in career guidance: Toward truly developmental counseling. The Personnel and Guidance Journal, 61, 555-562.

Super, D. E. (1990). A life-span, life-space approach to career development. In D. Brown and L. Brooks (Eds.), Career choice and development: Applying contemporary theories to practice (2nd ed., pp. 197-261).  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc.

Super, D. E. & Knasel, E. G. (1981). Career development in adulthood: Some theoretical problems. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 9, 194-201.

Watson, M. B., (2008). Career maturity assessment in an international context. In J. Athanasou & R. van Estbroeck. International handbook of career guidance (pp. 511-523). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer-Science.

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Career Adapt-Ability Scale

By Shelley Tien

According to Mark Savickas and Erik Porfeli (Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80-3, 2012), “Researchers from 13 countries collaborated in constructing a psychometric scale to measure career adaptability. Based on four pilot tests, a research version of the proposed scale consisting of 55 items was field tested in 13 countries. The resulting Career Adapt-Abilities Scale (CAAS) consists of four scales, each with six items. The four scales measure concern, control, curiosity, and confidence as psychosocial resources for managing occupational transitions, developmental tasks, and work traumas.”  The CAAS is available free in English on (

I participated in this study, conducting my research in Taiwan and Macau.  There are now versions translated in many different languages in different countries. For Chinese, there are three versions:  China (Ho), Taiwan (Tien, available at, and in Macao (Tien, available at

The Career Adapt-Ability Scale has 24 items which assess four subscales: Concern, Control, Confidence, and Curiosity. Another subscale, Cooperation, also with 6 items developed by Savickas, was deleted in the world-wide version because the results for this scale were not distinct from the other four subscales. I think the idea of Cooperation is important in Chinese collective culture. One day in Shanghai Normal University, I met Dr. Fred Leong and shared this idea. He totally agreed and we then did a cross country analysis based in the five scales, cooperation included. The results indicated that the five-scale version was also supported. The paper was published in the Journal of Career Assessment.

Many master’s level research theses were conducted in Taiwan based on the CAAS. Most of them describe factors related to using the CAAS. For example, one studied the relationship among career self-efficacy, career adaptability, and work adjustment for adult workers in Taiwan (Chinese version with English abstract is available at  Another study proposed to explore the relationship among career calling, career adaptability, and career satisfaction of teachers with different demographic backgrounds. This study used a set of inventories which measure each of these factors separately. The model proposed that there is a causal relationship among career calling, career adaptability, and career satisfaction.  A causal relationship was confirmed by the data, among other interesting findings.  These results were published in the newsletter of the Taiwan Career Development and Consultation Association, in Chinese (  Contact me at if want to know more about these or other findings.

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