Decision Time: A Guide to Career Enhancement

Reviewed by Robert Reardon

Decision Time: A Guide to Career Enhancement (2nd ed.) by Michael Shahnasarian, Ph.D.

Decision Time is an excellent, practical tool that career practitioners can use successfully with many of their clients either as a self-help book or for homework assignments in counseling. Chapter titles include

  1. Career Decision Making: A Lifelong Process
  2. Making Career Decisions: A Step-By-Step Model
  3. A Look Within
  4. Understanding Your Options
  5. Taking Action
  6. Fine Tuning Your Career Strategy
  7. Conducting An Effective Job Search
  8. Moving On.

At the outset, the author provides a list of forty reasons why a person might seek a career counselor, and this reviewer finds that the book's contents provide an effective, succinct response to those questions.

This reviewer liked this book for several reasons. First, Dr. Michael Shahnasarian, the author, has been a practicing career counselor for 20 years. He started and still heads Career Consultants of America, Inc., one of the most successful private career counseling firms in the world. The origins of this book can be traced to his graduate student days in the Florida State University Career Center, but he has continued to refine it based on his experience with thousands of clients and workshop participants since then. Along the way, Shahnasarian took time away from his work to serve as president of the National Career Development Association. His professional training and credentials, together with his work experience and commitment to the field, make this book one that other career practitioners will readily appreciate and find useful. The author has 'test driven' the ideas in his book with clients, and now other career counselors can do the same.

Second, the book's contents are presented in an active way and without jargon. At the same time, reference is made to many practical tools that are both standard practice and state-of-the art in the field. Although the book does not reference theory often, which is a benefit to lay readers, the six-step decision-making model might be familiar to those knowledgeable about cognitive information processing theory. Some of the self-assessment ideas, especially those related to interests, will be familiar to those with knowledge of Holland's RIASEC theory. But this is a book aimed at citizens, young and old, looking for practical ideas for jump-starting and enhancing the career in their lives, and it is a book that they can use to structure their experience with a career practitioner.

Third, Decision Time has other desirable features. It is brief and to the point, rather than complex and tedious. Clients will not be intimidated by its size or length. The book cover is informative and attractive. The narrative is enriched with 16 graphs and figures that clarify and amplify the words. Persons who are visual learners will appreciate this feature. Five appendices provide supplemental lists and activities that readers can use as they 'consume' the book. These include lists of Interest Activity Cards that can be cut up and used like a card sort, and lists of people-print-Internet sources that provide supplemental information for career clients.

Fourth, the book is comprehensive in scope because it includes all aspects of the career decision-making process, from self-assessment to the job campaign. Moreover, it includes many anecdotes and stories taken from the author's experience as a career counselor. Many of these ideas address the problem of negative attitudes that may underlie the career decision process. As an aside, this reviewer found many of those stories to be especially thought provoking and potentially helpful to those seeking career assistance.

The strength of the book is its appeal to adults in career transition from job loss, empty nest, loss of spouse or partner, illness or injury, or change in life/career goals. A weakness might be the difficulty that younger persons will experience as they try to draw upon their limited life experiences for career direction. Many adults will probably benefit from the book with limited assistance from a career practitioner, while the younger persons will need more help.

In summary, this reviewer welcomes this new book to the helpful resources that career services practitioners can use in their work, and predicts it will be used often wherever people seek career assistance. It should be the first book used in a self-help mode or in conjunction with counseling with many adults in life/career transitions.

Robert Reardon has held full-time counseling and teaching positions at Florida State University since 1966, when he was first employed as a counselor in the Counseling Center. Today, he is a faculty member in the Division of Student Affairs, and his current position is Director of Instruction, Research, and Evaluation in the Career Center; Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems; and Co-Director (with James Sampson) of the Center for the Study of Technology in Counseling and Career Development. He may be reached at rreardon@admin.fsu.edu

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