When Being Helpful Isn’t Helpful


Clients often seek support from career practitioners for a specific need. For example, a client may visit an employment service centre to obtain an updated, polished resume. He or she may not want to learn how to write a resume or discuss a job target or broader career goals; instead the client simply needs to obtain a finished document to support job-search activities.

Career practitioners may want to reflect on the saying, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” as it’s particularly applicable here. If career practitioners simply write resumes for their clients, they may be missing the bigger picture, impairing their client’s career development and employment success. For example, perhaps the client is under-skilled for the positions he or she is applying for and would benefit from some feedback regarding job target or career goals. In this instance, it would be better to teach, rather than give.

On the other handfishing, there is a well-established resume-writing industry, with professional certifications (e.g., Certified Resume Strategist), that can be helpful for established professionals who feel their resumes need to be “refreshed” or for individuals who have received negative feedback on the resume currently being used. In these scenarios, giving rather than teaching might be the best strategy.

In general, career development practitioners have a strong belief in helping clients develop the skills they need to proactively manage their own career paths; CDPs want to teach clients to fish. However, in order to truly be helpful, it is also important to recognize when to give.

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