Ideas for Career Practitioners: Celebrating Excellence in Career Practice

Edited by Mary McMahon & Wendy Patton

This book represents a compilation of ideas that career practitioners use in their everyday work and covers all facets of what is broadly termed career guidance. 

Presenting a smorgasboard of 48 ideas from over 50 experienced career practitioners, researchers and theoreticians from six countries, this book is an essential resource for everyday work in the career guidance field, including counselling, programs, assessment and education.

Practical activities, instruments, methodologies, reviews and ideas are presented in an easy-to-read format suitable for a range of client groups including adults, adolescents, primary aged children, rural and remote communities, and indigenous populations.

Topics include:

Vocational assessment and counselling

Career exploration amongst rural disadvantaged children

Entrepreneurship for university students

Identifying skills

Career insight in higher education

Using narrative with clients in remote areas

Resilience with youth in high risk settings

ACT techniques in career contexts

Organising career fairs

Self-directed work search

Career transition

Structured mentoring for girls

Medico-legal vocational assessment

From the Foreword

 "Ideas for Career Practitioners was first published in 2003 to celebrate Australian career practice and showcased a range of ideas from Australian career development practitioners. The 2003 publication was such a valuable resource that requests by practitioners to obtain copies of the book continued well after it was no longer available. Such demand encouraged us to produce a new edition of the book.

Unlike the original book which comprised only ideas from Australian authors, the current book contains ideas from six different countries that are all witnessing growth in the field of career development. In particular, this book contains ideas from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, China and Singapore and is a timely reminder of the expansion of career development within countries and also to countries where career development has traditionally been less evident. Despite the national settings from which the ideas originate, practitioners will find that the ideas presented in this book transcend national boundaries and thus reflect a truly international discipline. 

As two people who have worked as practitioners, researchers and theoreticians, and who continue to teach through our presentations and through university courses, we often hear the call for practical examples in relation to career counselling, conduct of programs, and use of the vast information source in the career area. ”

About the Author

The Editors

Mary McMahon is a senior lecturer in the School of Education at The University of Queensland. Her particular interests are the career development of children and adolescents, and the application of constructivist approaches to career counselling and assessment. She is especially interested in qualitative career assessment. Mary is the author of a number of books, book chapters, and refereed journal articles.

Wendy Patton Professor Wendy Patton is Executive Dean of the Faculty of Education at Queensland University of Technology. She has published extensively in the area of career development, including articles, book chapters, conference papers, and a number of co-authored book and co-edited books. She is currently on the editorial advisory boards of a number of national and international career development journals and the Series Editor of the Career Development Series with Sense Publishers.


Book review

© 2016 Roberta Neault

Are you looking for fresh ideas to expand  your professional toolkit and re-energize your career sessions with individual clients, groups, and even couples and families? If so, the latest edition of Ideas for Career Practitioners will be a resource to keep within easy reach. With contributions  from 55 authors across three  continents,  the breadth  of clients these  ideas are designed  for is impressive, including children as young as 7 years old, high school and post-secondary students,  vocational rehabilitation clients, and  adults  going  through  a variety of career  transitions.  I  can’t  think of any career  practitioners, regardless of work setting, who wouldn’t find at least one useful activity in this book. The ‘Ideas Guide’ on pages vi to viii is a helpful starting place; for each of 48 contributions, a comprehensive matrix identifies whether  the idea is designed  to support  adolescents/students, adults, or both, as well as whether  it relates to counselling, programmes/workshops, assessment,  computer-assisted interventions,  theoretical  applications, models/frameworks,  organisational  contexts, or diversity.

I particularly appreciated the respectful attention to cultural differences and the authors’ rationale for their  approaches,  especially if activities were  likely to  be  impacted  by  cultural  context.  For example, Idea 2 examines  the  role of parents  in supporting  the  career decision-making  of female college students  in India, Idea 13 offers a relevant  approach  for supporting  Indigenous  clients in remote  regions, and  Idea 39 guides  career  development work with refugee  students.  About 20% of the ideas map onto the diversity category in the Ideas Guide matrix.

Editors McMahon and Patton have done  an impressive job of organising such a variety of ideas into a fairly consistent format for each contribution. Most ideas provide Aims or Learning Objectives, identify a Client Group, offer relevant Work Setting Recommendations, specify the Recommended Time and  Materials/Equipment  Needed,  offer a Step-by-Step  Outline of the  Process, and  provide References or Background Reading; the background  reading  and references  alone provide a smorgasbord  of international  resources. Some ideas begin  with a Background section; others  end  with Concluding  Observations.  Many ideas  provide  reproducible  handouts and  resources  or facilitator notes in detailed  Appendices; in one case (Idea 32), Peter McIlveen, one of the contributors, makes the  generous  offer to send  electronic  copies  of the  tools upon  request.  Especially helpful is the contact  information provided for each author if you would like more information or might want to share ideas for adapting  or extending  the idea, strengthening a collegial international  community.

The ideas  range  from individual activities or interventions  to  comprehensive programmes  or courses; Idea 9, for example, provides a syllabus complete  with a grading rubric for an entrepreneur- ship course. Idea 41 addresses  career  counselling  for couples,  Idea 42 describes  a workshop  for parents  as career facilitators, and Idea 43 describes  a mentorship  programme.  Some of the contributions offer creative ways to extend more traditional activities; Idea 45, for example, uses a narrative approach  to help clients make meaning  from the quantitative  results of a values inventory.

Several contributions  are  theoretically  grounded,  providing  solid support  for the  design  and implementation of the idea. Idea 11 (Career Insight Groups) is one such example, providing a theoretical rationale for both  the idea and the facilitation method  at the beginning  of the Step-by-Step Outline. Ideas 4 and 34 are applications  of the Systems Theory Framework, Idea 5 is an application of the Chaos Theory of Careers, and Idea 17 is grounded in a narrative approach.  I also appreciated that some of the contributions  were linked to external benchmarks  (e.g. the Mentoring Checklist in Idea 33).

There are interventions  that will appeal to kinaesthetic learners (e.g. Ideas 1 and 10 involve card sorts, Idea 12 creates a paper doll, Idea 14 engages  the participant in Origami paper folding, Idea 15 involves Body Mapping, Idea 44 offers a multi-part activity that results in creating a personal news- paper, and Idea 48 results in a collage). As it can be challenging to find career resources relevant for working individuals, I was especially pleased to find Ideas 19 (Matchmaking Your Career Options), 21 (Winning Talent Commitment), and 22 (Motivate and Move), amongst  others that support  workforce development and transitions.

As a key role for many career practitioners is within educational settings, not surprisingly there are many contributions  relevant to this group. I was particularly delighted  to see Idea 30, focussed on primary school students.  Other Ideas were suitable  for high  school and  university students.  Idea 24, for example,  addresses  the  challenges  faced  by students who want  to change  their major (a choice that  can be especially difficult in some  Asian settings). Idea 25 provides  a comprehensive plan for organising Career Fairs; appendices include templates for inviting speakers, student work- sheets,  and  a  detailed   preparation   checklist.  Similarly Idea  36  describes  a  Careers  Expo with alumnae  presenters  and Idea 43 involves alumni in a mentorship  programme for high school boys in Hong Kong.

I find very little to criticise, given the comprehensiveness of this resource. Some readers may find a few of the Australian terms unfamiliar (e.g. ‘biro’ and ‘Blutack’) as well as regionalised  use of such common  words as ‘diary’ and ‘butcher paper’. However, this shouldn’t pose much of a problem  as the context generally makes the meaning  clear. This collection began  with Australian contributions (earlier edition)  and  has  now  been  expanded to  include  contributions  from five other  countries (current edition). I’d encourage the editors to continue  the tradition, expanding  the next edition(s) to include contributions  from other parts of Asia and Africa, and also from Europe, and North and South America. I can envision this as a multi-volume collection, perhaps  eventually available online.

Roberta Neault Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, Yorkville University and President, Life Strategies Ltd., Canada or     

Table of Contents

Career Interest Card Sort for Vocational Assessment and Counselling

James A. Athanasou and Karin Hosking

Supporting the Career Decision-Making of Female College Students: The Role of a Parent Meeting           

Anuradha J. Bakshi

Promoting Career Exploration amongst Rural Disadvantaged Children through an Activity-Based Approach

Anuradha J. Bakshi and Jahnvee Joshi

My System of Career Influences (MSCI, Adult) Career Decision Reflection Process

Belinda Barnett

The Exploring Influences on Career Development Technique

James Bright and Robert G.L. Pryor

A Career Development Program for Adult Students

Carole Brown

Creating the Right Impression

Helen Burton and Vicki Webster

Creating the Right Impression via Social Media

Helen Burton and Vicki Webster

An Entrepreneurship Course for University Students

Zhinan Cai and Leili Jin

I Can Cards: You already have skills!

Heather Carpenter

Career Insight Groups in Higher Education Settings

Raysen Cheung & Wing Chan

The "Who-Am-I” Accordion

Ewald Crause

The Work Story: A Narrative Approach to Career Development for Indigenous Clients in Remote Areas

Kim Davis

Origami Career Exploration and Ideas Generator

Judy Denham

Body Mapping For Resilience:  Fostering Adaptability With Groups of Youth In High Risk And High Need Settings

Liesel Ebersöhn

The Career Circle: Visualising Your Career

Dale Furbish

Telling Stories

Douglas Gibson

Key Competency Compilations

Douglas Gibson

Matchmaking Your Career Options

Wanda Harris

Career Development Workshop: Choosing Your Career

Mary-Ellen Hempel

Winning Talent Commitment

Merilyn Hill

Motivate and Move

Merilyn Hill

Values Exploration and Cognitive Defusion: Applying ACT Techniques in Career Contexts

Nancey Hoare

Structured Group Guidance on Career Exploration: Activities for Students Who Intend to Change Their Major

Zhi-Jin Hou and Xue-Liang Chang

Career Fairs: Maximising Career Learning

Sachin Kumar and Gideon Arulmani

From Inspire to Aspire

Patrick S. Y. Lau, Joe Y. C. Tsui and Florence K. Y. Wu

Self-Directed Search and the World of Work

Judith Leeson

Guided Reflections in Careers

Leong Jenn Yeoong

Understanding the Career Transition Process

Ros Lim

I & The World of Work: A Career Exploration Program for Primary School Students

Jianwei Liu and Mary McMahon

Obtaining Trustworthy Interest Profiles

J.G. (Kobus) Maree

Using My Career Chapter in Career Counselling

Peter McIlveen

Structured Mentoring: A Career Guidance Activity for Girls

Mary McMahon, Brigid Limerick and Jan Gillies

Influences on Career Decisions

Mary McMahon and Wendy Patton

Using Timelines in Career Counselling

Mary McMahon and Wendy Patton

Careers Expo Where Young Alumnae Speak About Their Careers

Sandy Maynes

The ABC of Success

Lee-Ann Prideaux

Mind Mapping for Medico-legal Vocational Assessment

Robert G.L. Pryor

Life-Story for Life Design: A Career Development Activity for Refugee Students

Val O’Reilly

Making the Links: The Value of Analogies for Career Counselling

Shauna Quinlivan

Career Counselling for Couples

Barb Ridgeway and Peter Tatham

Workshop for Parents as Career Facilitators

Donna Tangen

Mentorship Program Collaborating with Alumni: A Career Guidance Activity for Senior Secondary Boys in Hong Kong

Joseph Chi-to Tsang and Mantak Yuen

My Identity Newspaper: Group Career Exploration for Secondary School Learners Using Creative Expressive Arts Activities

Grethe van Zyl and Elzette Fritz

Turning Quantitative Scores into Narrative Career Counselling: Exploring the Role of Values in Career Choice

Mark Watson

Who Works in Your House?

Janine Watt

Making a Decision Using Grid Analysis

Mandy White

Creating a Personal Collage to Assist with Career Development

Mandy White