What are Your Clients’ Career Needs?
For career practitioners, comparing a client’s needs to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can be very effective when assisting clients of all age groups with career transition and career development.
Career Professionals of Canada defines career development as “a proactive approach you take to create the work and life you desire. It is much more than getting a job. It is a lifelong process of learning and growing. Career development enables you to make informed educational, occupational, and employment choices. It is an ongoing process that you embark on to ensure meaningful work throughout your life.”
As a career practitioner, you can ask pertinent questions to help your clients understand their current career needs and the path and actions they may want to consider in the pursuit of their long-term career development objectives.
Physiological Needs: According to Maslow, the base of the hierarchy model must meet our physiological needs. In terms of careers, one must determine how much income is required to pay for basic living requirements. Part of working is also to enjoy life, so another part of satisfying our physiological needs is to define our working hours, travel distance, and type of environment. Ask your client questions such as “What are your financial desires?” and “What type of work are you looking for?”
Job Security: Maslow’s next level is security. For people in the workforce, this means both job security and feeling secure in the workplace. Our government has legislated that workplaces are to be free from violence and harassment; however, such things still happen. As career practitioners, you must understand what security means to your clients, over-and-above the legal definition, and what happens if/when security, as defined by your clients, is not in place. Never assume all companies and employees are in compliance with legislation. Help your clients to explore options to such an environment.
Belonging: The third level, according to Maslow, is the need for love and belonging. Having a good fit is important for both the employer and the employee. Lack of fit can cause workplace issues and is frequently a factor when employees decide to leave their current company, or are let go. If you are working with a client who wants to change their job or career, you need to know the reason why. Determine if your client believes in the corporate culture or the direction of the company. Ask how your client deals with conflicts with coworkers or supervisors. Help your client articulate how they deal with workplace conflict so that, in an interview setting, they’re able to provide a thoughtful, professional response to this common question. Coach them to answer without giving a negative impression or “bad mouthing” a past employer.
Self-Esteem: Maslow has identified the fourth level in the hierarchy as the need for self-esteem. In terms of a career, this means one feels a sense of appreciation or respect from coworkers. Clients at this level feel that their career goals are going in the direction they want. They have achieved a level of responsibility that is matched with their education and experience, and it is rewarded with salary, benefits, and other rewards — tangible and intangible — that are important to the employee. They believe very strongly in the company image, products, and/or services. To help your client transition to this level, you may need to support them in finding an appropriate career direction.
Personal Growth: On top of Maslow’s hierarchy is self-actualization. In terms of career needs, we can consider this to be personal or professional growth. This is the ultimate stage in a person’s career, when the individual has realized their full potential and achieved personal satisfaction. It leads to maximum employee engagement. For clients who reach this level, their job is not considered “work” as it is enjoyable even with its stresses and challenges. Clients have reached a level of balance and appreciation in various aspects of life. As a career professional, this is where we need expert resources, education, and awareness of our clients’ needs in order to support and mentor them in moving forward to be the best they can in their careers and personal lives.
It is imperative for career development professionals to understand the different stages of the hierarchy of needs. We need to realize where our clients are in their career development or transition journey, where they want to go, and what hurdles may be preventing advancement. Making a career transition does not happen overnight and we need to be able to provide support and options to our clients by having multiple conversations. Learn more about how you can help clients with their career development needs.
Mary Whitaker, owner of RITE Careers, has worked as a career coach and group facilitator for over 15 years. Mary works with clients to be successful and satisfied in their careers by focusing on individual strengths, accomplishments, values, interests, and natural abilities. For more information on choosing a career path, creating a résumé that gets you the interview, or discovering job search strategies and tactics, visit the RITE Careers website.