A Field Guide for Career Practitioners: Helping Clients Create Their Next Move
Book review by Karen James Chopra
Peacock, Jim. (2019). A Field Guide for Career Practitioners: Helping Clients Create Their Next Move. Indie Author Books. 108 pages.
Reading A Field Guide for Career Practitioners: Helping Clients Create Their Next Move is like sitting down over coffee with your favorite colleague to learn all their best tricks for working with clients, avoiding burn out, and finding joy. This guide is vital for the day-to-day work of helping clients find their own paths forward and should be on every career development professional’s shelf, from graduate students to seasoned veterans of our field.
The author, Jim Peacock, has offered professional development to career practitioners through workshops and online discussion-based seminars for nearly twenty years. He has trained hundreds of career professionals on how best to support clients, and he has put this knowledge and experience into this concise, accessible book. His Field Guide effectively balances guidance for shaping the mindsets of our clients, our own development and self-care, and strategies we can use to help our clients reach their goals.
Creating a Mindset of Intentional Serendipity
A Field Guide for Career Practitioners opens with techniques to shift a client’s mindset to help expand their scope of possibilities and be comfortable with uncertainty. Peacock emphasizes the importance of finding a client’s “stretch zone,” the sweet spot between the “comfort” and “freak out” zones where career discovery happens. The second chapter focuses on how to help clients identify an action they are willing to take to generate “Intentional Serendipity,” unexpected events that illuminate new opportunities.
Client Strategies for Moving Forward
Three chapters are devoted to approaches to key career tasks. The author shares techniques to help clients identify and articulate their values, skills, and passions. This is followed by a chapter on encouraging clients to use LinkedIn, with the author reminding us that not every profession is equally represented on LinkedIn, and therefore some clients do not need to spend as much time with this platform. An additional chapter emphasizes the relationship-building aspect of networking to help reduce clients’ resistance to this critical career task.
Practitioner Mindset and Strategies
This guide devotes significant attention to how we as career professionals approach our work. The “Honoring All Career Pathways” chapter challenges our often unconscious bias for four-year college degrees, urging us to recognize the opportunities our clients might find through other paths. This includes trade, technical, and construction occupations, among others, as well as apprenticeships, short-term training certificates, and associate’s degrees, as alternatives to bachelor’s degrees. For practitioner strategies, the Field Guide includes a chapter on the coaching conversation, which reminds us that our most powerful tools are asking great questions and listening deeply to the answer. Two additional chapters focused on the practitioner address the importance of self-care and ongoing professional development.
Nuts and Bolts of a Successful Private Practice
The final chapter provides wisdom and guidance for any career development professional dreaming of a private practice, with advice that is also useful for those seeking to grow or find more fulfillment in an existing one. The chapter does not minimize the effort and anxiety that is involved, but it highlights the creativity and joy that await the private practitioner.
Quick Tips and Depth of Wisdom in Every Chapter
An appealing feature throughout the book is the numerous call-out boxes that offer quick hits of information and inspiration, making it easy for busy practitioners to skim through for advice on specific topics. “Coaching in Action” vignettes throughout the work describe how the author works with individual clients, giving the reader a more in-depth view into the advice put into play. “Career Coach Tips” shares favorite techniques and resources, from a list of useful open-ended questions to a description of the author’s personal practice, inspired by Jimmy Fallon, of pausing at least once a month to send out thank-you notes to friends and colleagues.
The author’s enthusiasm for the field and his respect for those of us who wander in the wilderness with our clients imbues every chapter. A Field Guide for Career Practitioners provides plenty of information for the mind but never forgets that it is the heart that takes the lead.
Karen James Chopra, LPC, CCC, NCC, is a career counselor in private practice in Washington, D.C. (www.ChopraCareers.com). She is the author of Coaching Career Clients Through Salary and Other Workplace Negotiations, and the Certified Salary Negotiation Specialist (CSNS) course. Karen also helps career coaches, counselors, and consultants launch and grow their own thriving businesses. She can be reached at Karen@ChopraCareers.com