2021 Harris Poll - Perceptions of Career Development from Working America

As the US job market rebounds from the global pandemic, the services provided by career development practitioners is more vital than ever.

The National Career Development Association (NCDA) commissioned The Harris Poll to conduct a National Survey of Working America. The poll assessed the perceptions of today’s workforce on the effectiveness of career development practitioners, the need for expanded workforce training opportunities and the hardships implicit in selecting, changing, or getting a job in the current economic climate. The feedback is very clear: career practitioners are a vital resource for the livelihood of our nation’s workforce and are underutilized relative to their potential need and value.

In the 2021 Poll, 57% of respondents reported that they accessed outside help when planning their career; 42% said that other people (i.e., friends, family, counselors) influenced how they chose a job. Only 13% of those surveyed said they had worked with a school or private counselor, or other career specialist.

While professional career development assistance hasn’t been widely used, an overwhelming majority of Americans (85%) said that professional assistance is valuable. Both Millennials (89%) and Boomers (80%) said that career services professionals provide valuable assistance. College graduates were slightly more likely to agree than those with a high school diploma or less (89% vs. 82%). And a majority of Americans (58%) regret not having worked with a career services professional in the past.

This survey was conducted online among 1,500 adults, 18 years of age or older. The sample represents a total population of 328.2 million adults, based on the U.S. Census current population reports. The study examined adults’ attitudes and experience related to work and the selection of a career or job.


Executive Summary - Career Development During a Pandemic: Using The Harris Poll Data to Identify Challenges and Possibilities


Full survey results (powerpoint slides):

Perceptions of Career Development from Working America - conducted by The Harris Poll


Additional Resources:

NEW! Brochure for Career Professionals showing the value of career services

Career Development During a Pandemic: Using Harris Poll Data to Identify Challenges and Possibilities - White Paper (Niles, 2021)

Working Americans' Perceptions of Career Development: The 2021 NCDA Harris Poll Results (Lehman, 2021)

Listen to Drs. Spencer Niles and Patrick Akos, former NCDA Board members, discuss “A Focus on the Need and Value of Career Services”:


Listen to NCDA President, Dr. Sharon Givens, share the summary and her reaction: