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The Changing Nature of Career Service

As 2017 marks ContactPoint’s 20th anniversary, we wanted to take a look at the most popular sections of our website as well as the most-read articles through a series of blog posts, and reflect on what they say about how the field has evolved over the past two decades.

By Deirdre Pickerell


This year Canada’s career development community celebrates the 20th anniversary of the ContactPoint website. Having ventured into career development just five years prior, I can just barely remember a time when ContactPoint wasn’t around . . . and shudder at the thought! The site quickly became a key resource for Career Development Practitioners (CDPs) and has continued to evolve over the years adapting to a changing workplace, economy and society. Similarly, CDPs striving to stay current and relevant will find that the skills they need to effectively support clients have also evolved. As I reflect on how this skillset has changed, I find myself focused almost exclusively on the impact technology has had on career development practice.

From using online spaces and smart phones to interact with clients and promoting services via social media, to entering data in client information/tracking systems and using the Internet to research and find jobs, advancements in technology have fundamentally shifted career service delivery. Twenty years ago, few could have imagined providing client services without ever meeting the client in person; today, however, it is becoming quite common to offer services solely through some sort of technology (e.g., phone, Skype, GoToMeeting).

Job boards have evolved to online application systems, complete with key word searchable databases and even employability and personality assessments built right in. Candidates who “fail the test” or don’t use the correct key words will never get their resumes to a real person. Interestingly, the resume still hasn’t “died” as some predicted; however, how that resume gets to employers certainly has changed. CDPs, therefore, need to understand more than just how to write compelling cover letters and powerful resumes. They also need to know how “beat the systems” employers have put in place.

Networking continues to be a strategy for getting clients noticed; having strong relationships with employers can help CDPs get clients to decision-makers. Networking, too, however has changed with the times. There are far fewer networking “events” to attend; instead, social media (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) have become crucial tools in the CDP, and jobseeker, toolkit. Even if CDPs do not want to use social media, they must develop sufficient skills to help clients navigate these tools.

Twenty years ago, I remember learning how to assist clients to “creatively hide” or combine multiple jobs, helping to minimize any sense of a client’s inability to maintain steady employment. Today, however, multiple job and career changes across the lifespan are the norm. Now, CDPs need to know how to support clients in managing multiple transitions, working within the “gig” economy, and preparing for times of unemployment. CDPs also need skills in understanding global career mobility, helping clients move to where the work is or be open to virtual work . . . living local but working global!

There are likely many other skillsets CDPs need today, that they didn’t really need 20 years ago. The changes in the way career development is done has frustrated some CDPs (e.g., some feel the work is more administrative) but has excited and engaged others. Given the pace of change across the broad labour market, I would suggest that the skills CDPs need to effectively serve clients will continue to evolve. This may make adaptability and flexibility the most important skills in any CDP’s toolkit.

Lucie Morillon
Lucie Morillon is the Bilingual Content & Communications Co-ordinator for CERIC. With a passion for quality content, she connects with her online communities and provides strong resources to engage members – and always encourages new ones to get involved. She identifies, creates and curates the content destined for the ContactPoint website, the weekly CareerWise newsletter and Careering magazine.


  1. November 8, 2017, 1:11 pm   / 

    hello. I was attracted to this article, because I wanted to know what the changes are in our field. “There are likely many other skillsets CDPs need today” I would have liked to learn a bit more about what those skills sets are. The author merely touched the surface, and perhaps that was the point. Thank you..

  2. November 10, 2017, 12:14 pm   / 

    Hi Linda
    The focus of the article was definitely on technology and, even within that, I only scratched the surface. However, hopefully there is sufficient information for CDPs to get a good sense of the technology skills needed today. Of course, technology changes so quickly that this is something that needs constant attention.

    As for other skillsets needed today, I’d be curious about your thoughts? What are you seeing in your workplace and community?


  3. November 14, 2017, 3:51 pm   / 

    Hi Deidre
    A lot of our clients are refuges or new permanent residents and I find that most learn they have to be adaptable, as we do with them. Most aren’t that familiar with social media and resort to networking, as you’ve indicated in your article, which seems to work in their favor most of the time. Career counselors need to be adaptable, open minded, out of box thinkers, and understanding of the cultural differences. So far, we don’t offer online services (except via email), because most of our clients aren’t not tech savy and prefer face to face contacts.

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