Experts in career guidance have to realize the influence of social media


Jaana Kettunen has worked with career practitioners throughout Finland and Europe, but to this day she has not had a chance to work as one, she says.

The use of technologies changes daily life, job life and also career guidance. Career practitioners have to realize that the locus of control is shifting from experts to a blend of expert and socially-constructed knowledge. Technology provides new opportunities for career practitioners, but it also creates a demand of new competence. Jaana Kettunen at Finnish Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä in Finland deals with these questions in her research. She shared some of her findings at the NVL guidance seminar “Guidance on a distance – Nordic challenges and solutions” in Oslo recently. DialogWeb got the opportunity to interview her.

- You have done some very interesting research on technology and career service. How do you think a practitioner should integrate social media into her established work routine?

- Since social media may be more frequently integrated into career services, it is important that practitioners utilize it in their practice within their own scope of comfort and competence, Kettunen says. She points out four different ways of experiencing social media in career services which have been identified in her research.

Social media was experienced as 1) means for delivering information, 2) a medium for one-to-one communication, 3) an interactive working space, and 4) an impetus for paradigm change and reform.

Illustration from Career practitioners ways of experiencing social media, by Kettunen, J., Vuorinen, R., Sampson, J. P., Jr. (in press).

Pre-service and in-service training

- This structure may serve as a tool to enable career practitioners become aware of the variation of their current way of experiencing social media and the more advanced ways they may be moving toward. It is important to develop pre-service and in-service training of career practitioners and provide them already during the training with opportunities to experiment and practice using social media in broader way. 

- You said in your presentation in Oslo that the career practitioners need new competence? Can’t they just transfer their way of working face-to-face to online one-to-one?

- The findings of our study show that competency for existing and emerging technologies is not only about a particular set of new skills. Success in developing competency for online guidance and counselling is a combination of cognitive, social, emotional and ethical factors that are interwoven. Prerequisite and extended from the face-to-face competencies mode are media literacy, versatile online writing skills, online discourse and online presence skills. Successful integration of technology depends not only on the skills or technical facilities, but also on practitioners´ willingness to accept the changes that new technology may bring to service delivery.

The future challenge in career service

- Social media is a new area for career practitioners who vary considerably in their experience in use of technology in career services. Some practitioners are not convinced of the relevance of technology in delivering career services and other does not have the skills or confidence to be able to do this effectively, Kettunen says.
- Emerging technologies provide new opportunities to create new practices and paradigms to better reach individuals who need assistance with career exploration and decision-making. The challenge to guidance practitioners as a profession is to decide how to best use existing and emerging technologies.

- Lack of digital competence might be a problem for career practitioners, but also for their clients. What do you think should be done about it?

- A critical use of online resources is a skill for adults in a knowledge-based society. This is an element of lifelong career management skills as well. It is important to distinguish which information is relevant in relation to future options in labour market. In Finland the use of online resources is included in the national core curricula for career education. This is a long-term goal to help future adults to find, select and use online resources with or without the help of career practitioners.

- Do the authorities in your country give priority to career service for adults?
Today one might say that priority in policy is more on youth than adults, but during the 2007- 2013 European Social Fund period the focus was on national development on adult guidance services. In Finland career guidance services for adults are available both in education and in employment sectors. In adult education the students are entitled for personalised support in their learning programmes and during a validation process of prior learning. 

Kettunen points to the fact that the key objective in the guidance and counselling in adult education is to support the student’s education and training and her/his career choices. Guidance and counselling in employment and economic development offices are determined by the needs: are they jobseekers, do they need to work on their professional skills or are they being rehabilitated for the labour market and do they therefore also need other than public employment services?

- The employment and economic development offices are aiming at using multiple channels for providing information, advice and guidance services to the citizens in a client-centred manner. This allows the client to consult the services at a time, place and method most appropriate and convenient to her/him. Since April 2015 the personalisation and career management skills are compulsory elements in the labour market training modules funded by local employment authorities in Finland.

Ethical practice in social networks

Jaana Kettunen does important research in career service and technology:
- My overall interest right now in this research area is to gain a deeper understanding of career service practices in social media context. Next intriguing research project on career services and technology explores career practitioners’ strategies for ethical practice in social networks.

Kettunen, J., Vuorinen, R., & Sampson, J. P. (in press). Practitioners’  Experiences of Social Media in Career Services. The Career Development Quarterly

Kettunen, J., Sampson, J.P & Vuorinen, R. (2015). Career practitioners´ conceptions of competency for social media in career services. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 43, 43-56.

Kettunen, J., Vuorinen, R., & Sampson, J.P (2013). Career practitioners´ conceptions of social media in career services. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 41, 302-317.