Welcome home!

Welcome to the Career Development Practitioner (CDP) home base. Not the home page, but home – a place you can feel safe and use as a base for venturing out. The career development field welcomes you and your participation; we truly hope you want to belong here. Lay your bags down and make yourself at home. 

This is an evidence-based site, don’t you know.

What you will find is essentially Career Development for Career Developers so get ready.

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Bezanson, O'Reilly, & Magnusson 2009

CDP's come from a wide range of work settings and educational backgrounds and they come to career and employment services as a second or third stop in their careers.

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Bring everything you’ve got – career development needs you 

We know that the baggage you bring is part of who you are. We welcome your skills, experiences, knowledge, networks, credentials and all the other things you’ve stuffed into your bags, and we invite you to share what you’ve got.      

Have we mentioned your own career development?

Better than anybody, we know that your career development comes first. As much as we want you to stick with the field, feel part of it, and actively contribute to its growth, we don’t want to coerce or cajole you into something that’s not right for you. That’s why we are taking a—wait for it—career development approach to helping you see your place in the career development field.

We'll Grow With You

Currently, this site serves people who are relatively new to the field. If colleagues refer to you as the newbie or the rookie, you’re in the right place. The site will gradually grow so that it continues to serve CDPs as they gain experience and expertise. 

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Being new to the field does not mean you're new to the world of work.

Most CDPs get into the field by accident (yes, we see the irony, we really do), arriving to the field from a host of other roles. In no particular order, you’ll meet CDPs who came from teaching, social work, human resources, organization development, youth work, pastoral care, anthropology and many more areas. Their educational backgrounds can range tremendously, too. There are many, many ways to effectively contribute to this field and, unlike many other fields, we want you to bring your accumulated baggage with you and teach us what it does.

Labels, title and fixed identities.

We’re not so precious that we expect you to love us and only us. It’s just fine to keep seeing yourself as a teacher, coach, counsellor, therapist, social worker, HR professional, youth worker, corrections officer, or whatever other role(s) you are engaged in. We just want you to feel welcome to explore the career development possibilities of your role. Compound and multiple identities welcome.

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Intersecting Fields & Sectors

Career development work overlaps with counselling, economics, education, human resources, organization development, social work, sociology, business and more. This is one of the reasons that it’s a fascinating field – the diversity is enormous.

Do I have the right stuff?

We won’t kid you – belonging is a two-way street. It really does take two to tango, but no one expects the beginning dancer to know all the steps, take the lead, or commit to a lifetime of dance. We’ll take the lead and help you out as you figure out your place in the career development world. 

The first thing we’ll do is help you feel welcome. We’d love it if you felt like you were wanted here and that you fit in. For example, just to make sure you don’t embarrass yourself as you figure out the field’s culture, go to Top 10 Ways Not to Suck as a CDP. How helpful are we, eh? We also have info below that will give you the lay of the land of the field, who’s in it, how to get help, and more. As you work through that, you’ll see (spoiler alert!) that we hope you feel more than welcome – we want you to feel that you belong here; that this is your place as much as it is our place. A little later, we’re hoping you want to grow and we’ll help you do so. And even later, we’ll nudge you toward giving back – to contributing your competence, ideas, and experiences to the career development community. For now, though, just unpack and settle in.

Unpack and settle in

Please make yourself comfortable in the field. Unpack your bags of experiences, skills, knowledge, education and perspectives. Take some time to look around to see what the field offers as well as opportunities for you to contribute your unique gifts to the field. Here are some starting points:

What is the field of Career Development?

We throw into the career development box every role that helps individuals prepare for and implement decisions, plans and transitions regarding work, learning and life-roles to learn what career development is from a client’s or student’s perspective). Landing squarely in the middle of this definition are roles such as career counsellor, employment advisor, and career educator. What may appear to be a little less central are roles such as pre-retirement planner and academic advisor. Even further in the periphery are occupations such as human resources professional, labour market analyst, life coach and teacher.

What do CDPs do?

People who identify as part of the career development field typically work with people in the following areas: 

  • Work readiness - develop the prerequisite skills (e.g., self-management skills) they need in order to be able to work 
  • Self knowledge - develop self-awareness of a host of characteristics (e.g., values, strengths) that can be used to guide decisions regarding work and other life roles
  • Work knowledge - research the world of work 
  • Learning options - research education and learning opportunities
  • Self-agency skills - learn to make plans and decisions
  • Career decision-making - work through options to make choices about learning and work
  • Work-search skills - develop skills needed to find, apply for, and get work
  • Skill development - develop skills needed to work
  • Work maintenance - develop strategies needed to maintain work

Many, though, work in the background, creating information (e.g., labour market analysts), resources (e.g., career development writers, podcast hosts), and systems (e.g., work experience coordinators) that support everything listed above. 


Career Development Camping

There are many ways of viewing people’s relationships with work and learning, resulting in unofficial “camps” in career development. These camps are friendly with each other; they just look at things from different perspectives. One viewpoint is from the perspective of the individual and their characteristics and choices. Career and employment counsellors and educators fit here. Another view looks at career from the organization or employer’s perspective. Human resources and management professionals typically fall into this camp.  Another sees career development through a socioeconomic lens, a lens chosen by sociologists and economists.   

Because of the way this site is managed and promoted, we are pretty certain that you come from the “individual” camp. This isn’t necessarily the best camp, the prettiest camp, the cleanest camp, or the camp with the best view…it’s just one of many camps. As you get more comfortable in the field, make sure you broaden your perspective to learn how others see and talk about career development. You will find, for example, that the individual camp talks in terms of career development whereas the employer camp talks in terms of career management. The socioeconomic camp talks less about career and more about work. Weirdly, there are not many places or events where these camps deliberately get together to talk with each other.

We bring up the various “camps” not to confuse (but odds are that we did) or make us look territorial (we’re a pretty open bunch), but to let you know that this site focuses on an individual perspective of career development.

What is a Career Development Practitioner?

If you have title such as career advisor, career coach, career consultant, career counsellor, career educator, employment consultant/counsellor, guidance counsellor, job club facilitator, job coach, job developer, leadership coach, life coach, outplacement consultant, résumé writer, student success advisor, vocational rehabilitation specialist, work experience coordinator, or work-integrated learning coordinator, you can likely see how you fit squarely in the career development field.

Depending on your role, you could easily fit into the career development field as an educator, labour market analyst, human resources practitioner, management consultant, organizational development consultant, product developer, social worker, or workforce development consultant.  

The bottom line is this:

If you identify as a career development practitioner, you are a career development practitioner! 

The field is maturing, however, and soon there will be provincial certification requirements if you want to put out a shingle as a Certified Career Development Practitioner or Certified Career Development Professional.

To Learn More

You can learn a great deal about what’s going on in the field in Canada by snooping around the sites of the three not-for-profit organizations in Canada that have mandates to promote the field of career development:


You can get to every career development association in Canada as well as several other organizations through this site. Just go to the Directory of Members for a list of member organizations. The CCCD also has a newsletter.


CCDF produces a newsletter, runs interesting projects across Canada, trains practitioners, and often works with international partners.

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CERIC produces a newsletter and magazine, runs Canada’s largest career development conference, CANNEXUS, and curates career development content for practitioners (among other things).

You're Not in this Alone - It's a Community Effort

The more you do career development work, the more you will find that it is a field involving connections. The connections range from the nano (What happens if I put this skill together with this knowledge?) to the macro (If the economy crashes, what are the implications for my client group?), from the internal (How do my self-perceptions influence my behaviour?) to the external (What work is out there for me that is available in my community?), and from the individual level (Who can this client connect with to get more first-hand information?) to the population level (How is this demographic group being marginalized in the workplace?). Career development is complex with many interconnected and moving parts.

As a service provider, you will quickly realize that the success of your efforts will depend largely on the connections you have, both within and outside the field of career development. You simply cannot know or do everything that your clients may need. The connections you make as a service provider will be essential in helping them access support in areas such as financial planning, legal resources, mental health, housing, recreation, and education. These connections will also help you understand the impact of a host of issues on career development concerns.

For your own growth and morale as a practitioner, connecting with the career development community is important, as well. Fortunately, the career development community is just that: a community. The vast majority of CDPs are really helpful folk who want to create room for you to belong, too. We’re not just making this up. People attending a career development conference for the first time often remark on the friendliness and openness of CDPs. 

Who Can I Connect With?

The career development community is just that: a community. The vast majority of CDPs are really helpful folk who want to create room for you to belong, too. We’re not just making this up. People attending a career development conference for the first time often remark on the friendliness and openness of CDPs.

As fascinating as our descriptions are, you may be thinking it would be good to have a conversation with someone to get a feel for what the field is all about. Some options for seeking people out by location, the clients they serve, or the kind of role they play are provided below.

Connect by Geography

Connect with your provincial/territorial career development association. Depending on where you are, they may have:

●       regional chapters

●       membership directories

●       local events

●       annual conferences.

Let anybody in your association know that you’re relatively new to the field and want to learn more, and it’s 99% certain you’ll be connected with someone pretty quickly.

Here are links to CD associations across the country:


Connect by Role

One of the most well-known career development theorists, John Holland, based his life’s work on the saying “birds of a feather flock together.” If this adage holds water for you (“holds water” is an idiom, not an adage, btw), you may want to connect with those who play the same role as you. You’d think it would be easy to find and hang out with others in the same role. After all, defence lawyers hang out with defence lawyers, criminals find other criminals to play with, and surgeons can find other surgeons to compare luxury vacation properties with. How hard could it be for career counsellors, employment counsellors, academic advisors, and others in the field to find each other? 

Connect by Client Group

Connecting with people who serve the same kinds of clients you do (e.g., at-risk youth, immigrants, refugees, unemployed adults) can make your discussions about the field very relevant to your current work. Finding CDPs by client group can be a little trickier than doing so by location, but a little sleuthing will get you connected quickly. Here are some approaches:

  • Go through the provincial association membership list, where applicable, and look for people who work in organizations targeting specific groups (e.g., “Immigrant Services Association,” “Youth Employment Centre”). Then, contact these CDPs and see if there is a group to join that focuses on the client group of interest.
  • Search for local organizations that serve the client group you are interested in (e.g., your search terms could be “youth,” “agencies,” and the name of your town/city). Contact one of these organizations to see what they know about career development and employment services related to their clientele.
  • Start nationally and then go local by searching for national bodies that serve your client group. Some examples follow:
    • Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE) coalesces career development practitioners in post-secondary institutions and employers who recruit and hire post-secondary students or graduates.
    • Canadian Council for Refugees focuses on the integration of refugees into Canadian life, but a scan through its membership list reveals many organizations that serve immigrants as well as refugees
    • Canadian Association for Supported Employment (CASE) represents member organizations that work towards the employment inclusion of people with disabilities.

There are many, many more national groups. A little searching using the client group and words like “Canada,” “association,” “network” or “collective” should point you in the right direction.

  • Build your inbox to learn who’s who.

What education/training/professional development is available?

CareerWise 14 Canadian Programs for career development professionals

You can get foundational career development training through the following trainers.

Formal certification and degree programs in Canada:

What Resources Will Help Me?