A ‘World First’ Integrated Career Planning System

© Tim & Juliana Smithells, 2007, rev. 2015

Since 1992, Tim and Juliana Smithells have been providing independent professional career counselling services focused on teenagers and young adults aged 15-30 years seeking first or clearer directions for their lives and work. Tim and Juliana’s clients come from a wide variety of backgrounds and ethnic groups, and from all over New Zealand/Aotearoa and many other countries. Their clients are students at secondary school or in tertiary education or training, or are out in the workforce. Most return to review or refine their career plans, reset their career focus or add something into their career mix.

By late 2005, the positive outcomes and effectiveness of the Smithells' approach to career counselling resulted in waiting times for appointments of 12 months or longer. Tim and Juliana decided to expand. They created a separate company, First Careers (now trading as Smithells®NZ). They developed a careers website, now Under license from the Bornholm Trust, Smithells®NZ manages the use of the Trust’s intellectual property. Smithells®NZ has also trained a nationwide network of independent career professionals, known as Smithells® Professionals.

Smithells®NZ’s vision is to ensure that by providing professional personalized career counselling and advice, at least 46,000 young New Zealanders (one percent of the population) will end up on a career pathway that fits them well, doing work they enjoy. In 25 years, this one percent will be contributing strongly to New Zealand’s local and international economic activity and productivity across all industry sectors and occupational groups. They will also help enhance New Zealand’s regional and global economic relationships.

Paul Stevens, an internationally respected career educator and trainer based in Sydney, felt that the Smithells had developed a completely unique approach to career planning.

The late Dr Betty Newlon, an international career educator and counsellor from the USA, described what Tim and Juliana Smithells had created as a ‘world first’, an ‘integrated career planning system that could be set up in many individual countries and could go global in time’.

This integrated career planning system has seven components:

  1. A system for training independent career professionals (in private practice or in organizations) that ensures consistency and quality of service to clients. Trainees become members of a cooperative network of providers and are known as Smithells® Professionals.
  2. An intensive five-day training programme and ongoing professional development for providers that encourages their professional growth.
  3. A robust and user-friendly career planning model, system and process, based on sound educational, psychological, vocational and philosophical principles, that allows each young person to focus on what is most important to them in planning their next step and shaping their future.
  4. An accurate and thorough career counselling process during which, the Smithells® Professionals...
    • Understand, analyze and explain contextual (family, school & educational) and idiographic (unique personal & vocational) information in a young person’s career information summary, so each young person gains a clearer understanding of him/herself;
    • Explore and pinpoint with consistent accuracy, career directions and occupations of ‘good to best fit’ to each young person, and to his/her unique mix of skills, interests, values, preferences and career ideas;
    • Enable the young person to select 1-3 career directions or occupations they prefer;
    • Generate and discuss choices and options to fit the career direction(s) or occupations pinpointed;
    • Create steps in a realistic career plan, and with the young person’s input and agreement;
    • Outline and explain the findings and plan to parents, family members, a friend/partner, and invite feedback.
  5. An accessible website with useful career planning information, a set of secure interactive online career planning questionnaires and a software-generated PDF career information summary, with some explanation and feedback, that is emailed automatically to that young person, once the questionnaires are completed.
  6. A self-referral system (web-based, email or direct contact) that creates simple options for a young person or parent to contact a selected Approved Smithells® Professional for face-to-face career planning
  7. A systematic, structured 2.5 hour consultation process to carry out Steps 1-4 above, in a working relationship based on mutual respect, honesty, teamwork, cooperation and the building of trust.


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