“You will have many more opportunities once you obtain your LPC.” I heard this over and over again as an LPC-Intern. I was excited for these opportunities, but what were they exactly? More pay? A promotion? My own private practice? During this time of transition, I was unsure what this meant for me and unfortunately, no job miraculously landed in my lap. I had to apply, research, and then apply some more. However, this process taught me a lot about myself and what I wanted to do.
Here are some tips to consider based on what I learned when looking for work…
Know what you want
We all start somewhere and all have to “pay our dues”.
Several of my internship jobs were unpaid and I traveled all over the city to gain experience and hours. This was a very frustrating and overwhelming time for me; however, it paid off. I learned a lot about myself and what I wanted. This was specifically important as I learned what population I want to work with, the hours I feel comfortable working, and where I wanted to work.
Think about the work you are doing…is it what you want? Are you working with the populations and issues your are most interested in? Are you working the hours you want? Are you working where you want to work? If you answered no to any of these questions, take some time to reevaluate your wants.
It is possible to work where you want, as soon as you figure out what it is that you want.
Do your research
This step is very important. Consider this task to be your job when your are trying to plan your next move. Researching and obtaining information about training, job prospects, and/or a potential employer are incredibly important. Don’t expect things to be laid out for you. You must be prepared.
Start this task by researching potential places of employment as well as the questions you want to ask. For example, if having benefits such as medical insurance are a necessity, then take the time to write down the important questions you have about the company’s benefits. When prepared with knowledge from the research done and questions in hand, you will appear organized which could possibly increase your marketability. Plus being prepared will make your decision making process easier.
Research should also be done when looking to expand your education and training. Find out how additional education and training would benefit you and your career. Don’t trust the guidance of a colleague whom may not know what is best for you—you know what is best for you and the responsibility falls on you to know what you are doing.
Bottom line, research, research, research any and all opportunities.
Make yourself marketable
In a market full of LPC’s and limited job opportunities, the best way to set yourself apart is to market yourself. There is only one you. People are buying into you, so make yourself a high commodity. I did this at my last place of employment. Among 10 LPC’s and LPC-Intern’s, I was one of three counselors who saw children for counseling. There was a large need for counselors to see children there; therefore, I had a busy schedule and job security.
To make yourself a high commodity, review your wants and do your research. Are you an expert at anything? Do you speak another language? Is there a need for a service that no one else is providing? These are the things that will help you to stand out. Market your differences to your current or future employer in order to stand out from the crowd. This goes a long way in the counseling field. If you are the only one providing a particular service, prepare yourself for referrals and a busy schedule.
So you know what you want, have done your research, and made yourself marketable, now is the time to network with your people. Your people are the people with whom you know and have connections with. This is the easiest way to find out about jobs and training opportunities. Tell your people when you are looking for work. More often than not, they will know about someone hiring or about an awesome training course to participate in. I know I have heard about job opportunities from my people several times because they are supportive and interested in helping me reach my goals. I encourage you to create a supportive network to connect with. This is an easy and important way to learn about job and training opportunities.
If this is not possible for you, consider using the internet to network with other counselors. A good starting place is our blog and Facebook page, SA Counselors Networking Group. Here we provide support and guidance to LPC-Interns and LPC’s. However, don’t stop with us. Look to network with other professionals in various fields online and/or in person. To find more networking groups on Facebook, click on find new groups and type in the type of group you are looking to network with.
Create it yourself
And if all else fails, create it yourself.
“The best way to predict your future is to create it yourself.” –Unknown
If what you want is not out there, I encourage you to create it yourself. There are many more opportunities available when you create what you want. A colleague of mine splits her time between two cities, counseling and writing books. She does not sit in an office all day or have traditional work hours. This may not work for you, but it works for her. It allows her the opportunity to make money, travel, and do what she wants.
Getting out there and creating what you want is possible. It takes a lot of hard work and it can happen for you. We did just that with the SA Counselors Networking Group. The three of us needed support while obtaining our LPC-Intern hours. What we received in return has been more than we anticipated. We started with three members and have grown to over 600 members. We now have the support and guidance we need at our fingertips. If you are interested in creating your own networking group, read more here.
Know that it is possible to create what you want and make your dream job a reality.
Best of luck to you on your job search.
Tracy Cooper, LPC
P.S. If you have any tips that you have found to be helpful when looking for a job, please share them with us all by leaving a comment. We appreciate your feedback.