Talent Searcher Can Change Your Life (Interview with a Career Counsellor Zuzana Zahradnikova, Founder of Career Spring)
Zuzana, how did you discover a talent for a career counselling within yourself?
When I was a child I had three dream jobs I wanted to do: I wanted to become an archeologist, medical doctor or mathematician. Finally, I found all three professions in one which I really love, and that’s career counselling.
As an archeologist digging into the past to uncover the biggest treasures of my clients - the innate talents, strengths and unique potential. As a medical doctor „saving the lives“ of clients through guiding & navigating them on their career path. As a mathematician analyzing and summarizing all talents, strengths and skills, being able to see the big picture on one hand and seeing the unique potential of the people on the other hand.
During my career, when I pursued Finance for more than 15 years, I realized that often my colleagues and people around me asked about how I managed my own career. Starting from a Junior Analyst role I progressed to a Senior Finance Manager role in a corporate company. I was often a mentor to many people on their career path. Then I got into experiential methods of career counselling and finally started my own business in career counselling.
Who are your clients?
My clients are mostly people from any of these three groups:
Unhappy employees – usually people in the age group of 35+, who realize they‘ve spent their career in an area they don’t love or enjoy or are burnt-out.
Entrepreneurs – people starting their own business,who want to understand their core potential and business area.
Students – who are just about to choose the field for their Secondary School Education or University study. Some of them have already decided on University study and they have quit or interrupted the study.
Describe a typical meeting with your clients when seaking to unearth their talents.
Prior to a personal meeting with clients I send them an e-Book: „8 tips to reveal your talents“ (English version is available here) personality tests and a test about life values´ preferences. The clients go through the tests and we discuss the results during our personal sessions.
A personal session is actually an open and trusting discussion with client using experiential methods and techniques of career counselling through connecting both hemispheres. Clients draw pictures, talk about their favorite fairy tales heroes, with many other techniques being used to get deeper into the client´s personal preferences.
I also help them to revise their resume, we often do a simulation of a job interview, I provide feedback on it and we talk about the trends on the labour market.
As an upshot of our sessions, the clients receive:
- results of the tests and a written summary of all talents & strengths and recommended field of study or work,
- an audio with a summary from the sessions.
How many sessions are needed to be able to find a client´s talent?
For some clients one three-hours session is sufficient, with others we may need to meet more times. On average it’s approximately 6 hours per client.
Let´s suppose your client has invested many years in studies, but when talking to you he/she finds out he/she should pursue a career in a totally different area. What do you do in such cases?
In those cases, we try to figure out what qualifications and skills are needed for that „new area“. If a different/additional education/certification is required, we try to find ways to get the needed qualifications. If it is realistically impossible (like switching from Finance to Medicine) we try to find professions in the new field that are similar or include at least some of the desired skills. Together, we prepare an action plan on how to effect the transition to those professions. A lot of people start by doing it as a hobby, or attending events and meeting people in that new field of interest.
Do you follow the path of your clients after they make changes in their professional life?
When I create an open, honest and trusting relationship with a client, they inform me about their career moves occasionally. With those who have an action plan we call on a monthly basis. People who have a detailed action plan usually achieve their career goals within some time.
What was the most heartbreaking story you have experienced during career counselling?
I am always impressed by teenagers who name humility or compassion as their core values.
I remember one lady who was employed in a technical department and she was anything but a technician... After having a couple of sessions together and creating a detailed action plan she managed to move to HR, which was exactly the right place for her to be.
One young student decided to work in a supermarket as a shop assistant. During our session he showed me a book full of his own drawings. After some time he changed his mind and started to study art.
Our platform is dedicated to foreigners staying in Slovakia. Could they use your services?
I’m also working with foreigners. As I have 15+ years experience in corporate companies, where I‘ve worked with teams and managers from different countries and I know this environment of diversity very well, I can easily support foreigners in their career path and professional decisions. Twice a year I present to expatriates about how to succeed in a Slovak labour market and I have managed to help a couple of the foreigners to find a good job.
Thank you, Zuzana, for making the time and we wish you much unearthing of many hidden talents.
Do you want to get in touch with Zuzana? Send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org