A smiling young man talks to a man facing away from the camera. They're seated at a table and the young man is flipping through some pieces of paper.
Most colleges offer free services at on-campus career development centers. — Getty Images/sturti

Whether you’re just starting college, getting ready to graduate or actively looking for a job, a career development center can be a valuable resource. Let's look at what a career development center is and how it can help you.

What is a career development center?

A career development center focuses on helping job seekers successfully enter the workforce. There are three primary types of centers you can choose from:

  • College career centers: These centers are located on college campuses and help students plan their career goals and life after school, and their services are free to anyone who attends that school. Students who take advantage of their school’s career development center are often more likely to obtain full-time jobs than those who forgo the program.
  • Private career centers: There are also private career centers that focus on helping job seekers, but you’ll have to pay to use these services. A private career center can help you write a resume and identify networking opportunities.
  • American Job Centers: American Job Centers are offered by the U.S. Department of Labor. There are nearly 2,500 job centers across the United States that provide training, mentorship and employment-related services to job seekers.

[Read more: Career Coach Duo Helps Professionals Navigate the Job Market]

5 reasons to use a career development center

Whether you’re getting ready to graduate from college or looking for opportunities to transition in your career, a career development center can be a helpful resource. Let’s look at five reasons you should consider visiting a career development center.

Career guidance and assessment

Many students choose a major but don’t have a lot of clarity around what they want to do after graduation. At a career development center, you learn about different types of jobs and can narrow in on opportunities that might be a good fit for you.

Plus, career centers provide aptitude and personality assessments. These tests can help you gain a better understanding of your interests and skill sets.

At least 70% of all jobs are not published online, so it’s critical to learn effective networking strategies.

See how your skills transfer to the market

It can be challenging for individuals to identify how their major and experience translates to a future job, and it’s even harder to explain this on a resume or in a cover letter. As the saying goes, it’s hard to read the label from inside the bottle.

That’s why working with a career counselor can be so helpful. That individual can help you identify and communicate both the hard and soft skills you’ll bring to a future employer.

[Read more: What are Soft Skills?]

Develop your professional skills

A career development center can help you develop your professional skills before you enter the workplace. You can do this by taking advantage of the following services:

  • Help with resume: Learn how to create a professional resume, set up a compelling LinkedIn profile or write a cover letter. Not only will these skills help you land a job after graduation, but they could help you land the internship of your choice.
  • Networking assistance: According to NPR, at least 70% of all jobs are not published online, so it’s critical to learn effective networking strategies. Career development centers can help you learn the networking skills you need and often host networking events.
  • Mock interviews: Participating in mock interviews can teach you how to answer questions and articulate your skills during a job interview.

[Read more: How to Write a Resume That Highlights Small Business Skills]

Learn about job opportunities

Not only will a career development center help you learn the skills you need to find a job, but it could even lead to your next job opportunity. That’s because employers will often work with career development centers to find potential job candidates.

Career development centers will often host job fairs where you can talk directly to potential employers. This can be especially beneficial to first-generation college students who often don’t have access to the same network as other students.

Graduate school planning

If you’re considering attending graduate school, then you should consider visiting a career development center. A career counselor can help you identify potential graduate degree programs and recommend schools that might be a good fit.

If you already have a graduate program in mind, your career center may be able to introduce you to students or faculty members at that school.

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