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Three ways you could use ChatGPT in Career Counselling

I’m not going to lie, there’s been a lot of talk in our house about ChatGPT over the past few weeks. It’s like the perfect storm of stuff Rob (my husband) loves – he’s a writer by trade and obsessed with new technology, so Chat GPT is right up his alley. But in between writing rap songs, wedding proposals, bedtime stories, and the occasional bit of actual copy, we’ve been talking about how you could use ChatGPT and similar technology to engage young people in a broader career conversation.

There are two main benefits I can see to using a tool like ChatGPT – it’s engaging (especially for young people) and it makes things easy to understand. Let’s look at both of these benefits in a bit more detail:

  1. Young people want to engage with tools like ChatGPT
    As digital natives, it’s not just that they feel comfortable with technology but they’re always looking for a way to do things better and be more efficient. Writing a resume = boring, but writing a resume with ChatGPT = fun.
    Anyone who has spent time in career conversations with young people will know that getting them to open up and engage in the conversation can often be difficult, and especially for those who are in most need of the support, and this is where tools like ChatGPT can come in handy.
  2. ChatGPT makes things easy to understand
    That’s because, unlike other search tools, you only get one clear answer. Google will spit out page after page of third party results for you to choose from, peppered with paid ads, which means you need to make more choices about which answers you want to learn more about, but this step is absent when using a platform like ChatGPT.
    That reduction in mental workload is huge, especially for someone who is already feeling overwhelmed (like most 16 years olds talking about their career).

I wrote the above benefits first, and then I asked ChatGPT to list what it sees as the benefits, here’s what it came up with:

“Here are a few potential benefits of using a language model like ChatGPT in career counseling sessions:

  1. Immediate assistance: A language model like ChatGPT can provide immediate assistance to career counselors, allowing them to quickly respond to the questions and concerns of clients.
  2. Scalability: ChatGPT can handle multiple clients at once, allowing career counselors to serve a larger number of clients.
  3. Personalization: ChatGPT can generate personalized responses to clients, based on their specific questions and concerns.
  4. Flexibility: ChatGPT can provide assistance at any time, including outside of regular office hours, allowing clients to receive help when it is convenient for them.
  5. Cost-effective: ChatGPT can be a cost-effective solution for providing career counseling services, as it doesn’t require a human counselor to be present during each session.
  6. Anonymity: ChatGPT can provide a anonymous form of career counselling which can help clients to open up more freely and easily.
  7. Variety of Information: ChatGPT can provide clients with a wide range of information and resources on different careers, job opportunities, and career development strategies, depending on their interests and goals.

“It is important to note that while ChatGPT can be a useful tool in career counseling, it is not a replacement for human counselors and their expertise. Ultimately, the human counselor and the language model can work together to provide best guidance.”

The final statement from the AI pretty much sums up how I feel – it’s not a replacement, just another tool at our disposal. The AI response is a not perfect by a long shot – I could never use this as-is – but it does provide food for thought. So, onto the ideas for using ChatGPT in Career Counselling sessions.

I’m sure the variety of ways you could use this kind of technology both in one-on-one sessions and in the classroom is infinite, but as a starting point I’ve come up with three ways which I either have already used or translate pretty well to a technique I already rely on.

 

Three ideas for using ChatGPT in career counselling and education

Idea #1 – Use ChatGPT to translate activities into strengths

A common theme I come across all the time is that young people can’t translate their achievements and experience into language that an employer understands. In many cases, they may not even realise that something they have done would be seen positively by an employer, and if this comes up in a session with a student then as a counsellor it can feel like you have to persuade the young person that their experience is actually a strength.

I sometime use the What’s Your Strength cards for this reason, because they literally link normal things young people do with strengths and skills.

For an example of how this works, let’s think about Minecraft. If you’ve been living under a rock, Minecraft is a video game where players explore an open world as they build things, mine things, blow things up and tackle monsters. Minecraft has an Education Edition, and many children start playing Minecraft while they’re still in primary school. There are also more advanced versions which allow players to code their own modifications (‘mods’) or create complex ‘engines’ that are essentially coded engineering projects.

Any teenager who is playing Minecraft at this level is essentially going through a software programming apprenticeship, and the skills they develop playing the game are in high demand in the workplace. But most teenagers would baulk at the idea of including their Minecraft achievements on their resume, and this is where ChatGPT comes in.

With the student, ask ChatGPT to prepare a response to this question:

“What skills do I gain from [INSERT ACTIVITY HERE] that could be useful in the workplace?”

I asked ChatGPT to do just that with Minecraft, and here is the response:

Question – “What skills do I gain from playing minecraft that could be useful in the workplace?”

Answer – “Playing Minecraft can develop several skills that can be useful in the workplace, such as:

  1. Problem-solving: Minecraft requires players to use logic and reasoning to solve puzzles and challenges, which can help develop problem-solving skills that are useful in many job settings.
  2. Planning and organization: Minecraft players must plan and organize resources, tools, and other items in order to progress through the game, which can help develop planning and organizational skills that are valuable in the workplace.
  3. Creativity: Minecraft is a game that encourages creativity and experimentation, players can build whatever they can imagine using the game’s blocks. Those skills can be beneficial for fields that require creativity such as game design, animation, architecture, or engineering.
  4. Attention to detail: Minecraft players have to pay attention to the details of their virtual surroundings and make sure that their constructions are sound and functional. This focus on details can be helpful in fields that require a high level of attention to detail like data analysis, graphic design or editing.
  5. Teamwork: Some players prefer to play the game in multiplayer mode, which can be a great way to develop teamwork skills. Collaborating with others to achieve a common goal can help players learn how to work effectively with others, which is an important skill in many workplaces.
  6. Adaptability: Minecraft is constantly updated with new features and content, players have to be adaptable to keep up with the changes. This skill can be very useful in workplaces, where changes and adaptability are becoming more common.

“It’s worth mentioning that even though playing Minecraft can develop those skills, it should not be the only way you gain them, and should be complemented with other experiences.”

Once you have the response, spend some time talking about the skills ChatGPT identifies, and ask the young person if they feel that they agree. The ChatGPT response is less important than the conversations it can generate, but this could be a good way to build confidence and identify strengths, particularly with reluctant young people.

 

Idea #2 – ChatGPT can be used to explore career options and alternatives

One of the key problems we face with career exploration is that young people often latch on to a familiar or popular career path and stop exploring – called vocational identity foreclosure. We can use ChatGPT to tackle this foreclosure – simply ask students to ask the AI to suggest similar careers to the one they’re planning for.

This could work well for those students who have essentially closed themselves off to new ideas – they don’t want to Google options or use a standard career website, because they don’t feel like they need to, but the novelty of ChatGPT can bring them back.

You could use this in a one-on-one session if you felt that the student was at risk of VI foreclosure, or incorporate it into a career education lesson.

Ask ChatGPT to prepare a response to this question:

“Write a list with descriptions of 10 careers that are similar to [INSERT CAREER HERE]”

I asked for similar careers to lawyer (a perennially popular career) and these are the jobs it came up with:

  1. Judge: Judges preside over legal proceedings, making decisions and ruling on the law in court cases. They may also write opinions on cases that come before them and issue verdicts.
  2. Paralegal: Paralegals assist lawyers in their work, such as researching legal precedents, drafting legal documents, and preparing for trial.
  3. Legal Assistant: Legal assistants perform similar tasks as paralegals, but they often have less formal education and training than paralegals.
  4. Mediator: Mediators assist in resolving disputes between two or more parties by acting as a neutral third-party facilitator. They help to facilitate negotiations, identify key issues and explore potential solutions.
  5. Arbitrator: Arbitrators hear evidence from both sides in a dispute and then make a decision about the outcome. This can be in a formal court-like setting or in a more informal environment.
  6. Solicitor: Solicitors provide legal advice to clients and represent them in legal matters, often specializing in a particular area of law.
  7. Notary Public: Notary publics are responsible for witnessing the signing of legal documents and affirming the identity of the signer. They also handle the administration of oaths and affirmations.
  8. Legal Scholar/Academics: Legal scholars/academics are specialized in legal theory, history and research, they often teach at universities and conduct research in a specific area of law.
  9. Law Librarian: Law librarians help lawyers, law students and the public access legal information. They often maintain and organize large legal collections, providing reference and research services.
  10. Compliance Officer: Compliance officers are responsible for ensuring that an organization complies with laws, regulations, and industry standards. They also help to develop policies and procedures to ensure ongoing compliance.

No, it’s not the most inspiring set of legal career descriptions, but it is certainly a starting point. Hopefully, one or two of the jobs in the list look interesting enough for the young person to want to learn more, and regardless of whether or not they return to their original plan, they’ll have undertaken some valuable career exploration.

 

Idea #3 – Use ChatGPT to practice responding to interview questions

Responding to interview questions can be daunting, but ChatGPT can come in handy here as well. There’s a process you can follow to use ChatGPT in this way:

  1. Start by asking ChatGPT to come up with a list of common interview questions for the job they’re applying for. The list it generates will probably not be perfect, but if you covered all of the questions it generates then you’ll have prepared for most of the potential questions.I asked for a list of questions for shop assistants, and it suggested 15 questions including “How do you handle difficult customers?” and “How do you handle sales and meeting targets?”
  2. For each question, ask ChatGPT to come up with a standard response. I used the following prompt:“Write an interview response to the question “How do you handle difficult customers?””And received this answer:“I understand that dealing with difficult customers can be challenging, but I believe that it is important to always remain professional and respectful. My approach is to listen to the customer’s concerns and complaints, and try to understand where they are coming from. I then work to find a solution that addresses their issue while also being fair to the company. I would also involve manager or supervisor in case if the issue is serious or need more support. If necessary, I would apologize for any inconvenience the customer may have experienced and assure them that their concerns will be taken into consideration in order to prevent similar issues in the future. I believe that effective communication, patience and a positive attitude are key when dealing with difficult customers.”

    This isn’t a bad response to the question, and in most cases I would expect that the interviewer would move on, but they may want you to provide an example which is where the next step comes in…
  3. Sometimes it’s easy to come up with examples to use to back up claims like the ones in the previous response, but ChatGPT can also help out if you are stuck. I asked ChatGPT to write a list of examples I could use to justify that I am professional and respectful when dealing with difficult customers, and these are the examples it identified:“Here are a few examples you could use to illustrate your ability to remain professional and respectful when dealing with difficult customers:

    1. De-escalating a heated situation: You were able to diffuse a tense situation with a customer who was becoming agitated by calmly listening to their concerns, acknowledging their feelings, and finding a solution to their problem.
    2. Providing exceptional customer service: You went above and beyond to help a customer who was dissatisfied with their purchase, showing them that you truly cared about their satisfaction.
    3. Keeping your cool under pressure: You handled a situation with a difficult customer who was loudly complaining about a delay in their order and you remained patient and composed throughout the interaction.
    4. Apologizing when necessary: A customer had an issue with a product and you apologized for any inconvenience and assured them that the problem would be resolved and also took feedback for future reference.
    5. Resolving a complaint: You effectively and efficiently resolved a customer’s complaint, leaving them satisfied and pleased with the outcome.
    6. Being Empathetic: A customer was dealing with personal problem, you understood their situation and provided support and guidance, went an extra mile to make them comfortable and their experience pleasant.
    7. Providing clear information: You were able to explain a company’s policy or procedure to a difficult customer in a clear and concise manner, helping them to understand and accept the decision.
    8. Being Proactive: A customer had a repeated issue with a product, you identified the issue and took proactive steps to prevent similar issues from happening in the future.
    9. Keeping a Positive Attitude: You remained positive and friendly, even in the face of a difficult customer, and kept the interaction from becoming confrontational.
    10. Following up: You followed up with a difficult customer to ensure that their concerns had been addressed, showing that you take their feedback seriously and want to make sure they have a good experience.

You would need to take this a step further and identify a specific situation from your experience that related to one or two of these examples, but it would be much easier to do this than to start from scratch.

 

This is just the start for ChatGPT and Career Education

It seems like there’s a lot of room for growth – we’re only at the very first stage of this kind of technology, and with AI career counselling chatbots just one of the latest advances in this space, I know there’s more to come.

I’m on the lookout for other ideas, so if you have any please share them, and I’m also following some other people doing some exciting work in this space including Leon Furze and Bev Johnson, and I’d also recommend reading this from The74, this from Stanford, and this blog from Seth Godin.

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