Choosing Your Career and Employment Service Provider

Career Development, according to the Canadian Standards and Guidelines for Career Development Practitioners, is defined as the “lifelong process of managing learning, work, leisure, and transitions in order to move toward a personally determined and evolving preferred future”. This definition, in my experience, is rarely used by individuals who are seeking career and employment assistance. In my 12 years of experience as a Career Development Practitioner I don’t recall ever being asked to provide ‘career development’ services. Most often I am asked to provide career planning, career assessment, career counselling, career coaching, employment preparation, job search support, interview coaching, and resume writing services. Regardless of the type of service you ask for it is important that you choose a service provider who is competent in providing that particular service.

Career Development Practitioner is a general term that is used to describe direct service providers in the career development field. Some titles you may come across include career practitioner, career management consultant, work development officer, employment support worker, work experience coordinator, job developer, placement coordinator, career coach, and vocational rehabilitation worker. While many service providers claim to provide career counselling services the title of Career Counsellor is reserved for those service providers who are professional counsellors / therapists, have specific training, and are registered as Career Counsellors. Career Counsellors are competent Counsellors and Career Development Practitioners. Both Career Counsellors and Career Development Practitioners offer valuable services to individuals who are looking for guidance and support with respect to their careers.

Even though there are Standards and Guidelines that outline the competencies required of career and employment service providers – and definitions for key terms including career development, career, occupation, work, and job – these competencies and terms are generally unknown to the general public. Career Development Practitioners often use the language of Career Development in a different way than those accessing their services. This can certainly cause some confusion.

When Career Development Practitioners talk about careers, occupations, work, and jobs they tend to use these definitions from the Canadian Standards and Guidelines, if they have training or certification in career development, and if they are familiar with the Standards and Guidelines:

  • Career
    “Career is a lifestyle concept that involves the sequence of work, learning and leisure activities in which one engages throughout a lifetime. Careers are unique to each person and are dynamic; unfolding throughout life. Careers include how persons balance their paid and unpaid work and personal life roles.”
  • Occupation
    “A group of similar jobs found in different industries or organizations.”
  • Work
    “Work is a set of activities with an intended set of outcomes, from which it is hoped that a person will derive personal satisfaction and contribute to some greater goal. Work is not necessarily tied to paid employment, but to meaningful and satisfying activities, (e.g., volunteer work, hobbies).”
  • Job
    “A job is a set of tasks that take place in a particular environment. Jobs may be paid or unpaid, part time or full time, and of short or long duration.”

The Standards and Guidelines form the basis for the competency framework established by the International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance (IAVEG) and various Career Development Associations across Canada including the Career Development Association of Alberta (CDAA). Because not all career and employment service providers are certified or trained in career development specifically they may not all use the same language and may not all share the same competencies. As a consumer of career and employment services it is important to know what skills, competencies, and background your service provider possesses to make sure they are the right service provider for you.

The Standards and Guidelines enable Career Development Practitioners to assess themselves against the required competencies and develop the skills necessary to achieve competency in the various areas. In Alberta and British Columbia there are certifications available to those service providers who have demonstrated their experience, education, and competency to their professional associations. In Alberta those service providers are members of the Career Development Association of Alberta (CDAA) and are called Certified Career Development Professionals (CCDPs). In British Columbia they are called Certified Career Development Practitioners (CCDPs) and are members of the British Columbia Career Development Association (BCCDA). Service providers may also have designations such as Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF), Educational and Vocational Guidance Practitioner (EVGP), or be registered with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association as Career Counsellors. They may also have any number of resume, interview, or job search certifications, or specialized training in the use of specific assessment tools. Career Development Practitioners should, at a minimum, have training in career theories and ethics and be committed to ongoing professional development.

It is important to do your research, ask questions, and feel comfortable with the service provider you choose – it is your career after all. To find out more about service providers in Alberta please visit the Career Development Association of Alberta’s Career Development Services Directory.

Paula Wischoff Yerama is a Certified Career Development Professional (CCDP), Registered Rehabilitation Professional (RRP), and Registered Vocational Professional (RVP). She is also certified to administer and interpret the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Level I and II), Personality Dimensions / Career Dimensions tools, and the Strong Interest Inventory. Paula is a recent Bachelor of Management graduate with a major in Human Resources and Labour Relations and has training in career theories and ethics. In addition to her role as Chair of the Career Development Association of Alberta she is a member of the Canadian Council for Career Development Steering Committee. Paula is passionate about her profession and an advocate for quality practice.

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For more information about Career Designs for Life services please feel free to contact Paula directly at or 780.589.2245.