The Internet: A Tool for Career Planning (3rd ED.)

Book Review By Bonita McClain Vinson

Debra S. Osborn, Margaret Riley Dikel, and James P. Samson, Jr. believe that information and technology changes rapidly and they attempt to provide a timely update to the previous editions of their book on the use of the Internet in career planning. The authors seek to establish possibilities of linking relevant Internet resources with the process of career counseling and planning through an ethical, high quality approach. This book also provides readers with a background on the appropriate use of Internet-based information in career development. In addition they outline a theoretical foundation and practical resources useful for new, soon-to-be, or seasoned career service practitioners and educators. The book addresses new material and updates several critical considerations for career service practitioners and educators such as:

  • Considerations for real-time service delivery
  • An how-to guide for developing a virtual career center
  • Providing tools needed to understand and measure client readiness, and
  • Understanding ethical dilemmas specific to the relevancy, accuracy and currency of career-related Internet sites.


Laced throughout the book the authors give credence to the importance of ethical considerations and concerns for client and practitioner awareness in the use of the Internet as a tool in career guidance. For example, chapter 1 lays the groundwork for ethical challenges some web-based resources might present such as lack of practitioner support, online resource validity, client readiness and access to web resources. Client readiness for use of Internet resources is also a major topic addressed in the book. As well, the authors define and provide a theoretical basis of what they view as career information and decision-making.


This book revisits the use of social networking sites more expansively than in the previous edition with careful consideration of appropriate guidance in their use. Thoroughly addressed is the level of readiness of the clients cross-referenced with their ability to intake and utilize Internet resources for their own career development. Providing a theoretical model or framework for practitioners to work from as they deliver career planning services, the reader will take away a greater understanding of how to utilize Internet resources in working with clients.


One chapter provides readers with an extensive listing of online resources which can be used in career decision making grouped into categories such as employment trends, self assessment, resources for specific industries and occupations, and job banks. Coupled with this comprehensive listing, the authors equip readers with specific purposes for using each of the resources. However, readers are cautioned in using web resources without having appropriate knowledge and purpose for their use.



Some of the material is repeated in the book. Confidentiality, equality and access, distance counseling, career readiness, and social networking seem to be repeated in several places. While there is value in reiterating the importance of these themes, it does come across as somewhat redundant. The last chapter reminds practitioners of potential problems and ethical concerns of each area of career planning. This recap focuses on strategies practitioners can use to minimize or avoid ethical problems.


Importance to Career Development

There is not much in the book that should be debated. The book is organized well and provides an appropriate update to the previous edition.


This is a great bookshelf resource for any practicing career service professional or educator of graduate preparation programs. Practitioners and educators alike can learn how technology impacts career decision making, what needs to be considered in face-to-face and distance counseling, how to develop a comprehensive, virtual career center, and how social networking sites can be useful for career planning. The book also gives the reader a plethora of online resources that can be utilized with clients in delivering career planning services. This list of resources is posted and updated bi-annually at the NCDA Resources webpage.


The book will be especially helpful for graduate students learning the foundations of career development and how to integrate the Internet and technology tools into the career planning process thoroughly, theoretically, and ethically. The seasoned professional will benefit from this book because its pages contain up-to-date Internet resources that are helpful to any practitioner. The reading is an academically sound discussion on ethical concerns related to distance counseling and social networking sites used in the career planning process. Also, the seasoned professional will better understand social networking sites and how to use them in career development differently than was discussed in the second edition. And finally, educators and seasoned practitioners alike will learn how to set up or enhance real-time services online in the form of a virtual career center. Arguably the most useful piece of information is that on how to create an ethically strong and viable virtual career center.


At the root of practitioner services is the clause "do no harm." The authors of this work give a strong message to practitioners about the importance of this clause in the delivery of career planning with the use of the Internet and technology tools. The heart of this book adequately addresses this topic.

Osborn, D. S., Riley Dikel, M., & Sampson, J. P. Jr. (2011). The internet: a tool for career planning, 3rd ed. NCDA: Broken Arrow, OK.

Authors Debra S. Osborn, Margaret Riley Dikel, and James P. Sampson, Jr. are seasoned researchers, and prolific writers. They are widely recognized experts in the theory, research, and practice of career development. Visit the NCDA Career Resource Store for other excellent books.



Bonita VinsonBonita McClain Vinson has a 20-year history in career services and higher education administration. A former career services director and also educational center director, Bonita is an adjunct professor of business, higher education, and student affairs. She owns a higher education consulting firm. She may be contacted on LinkedIn or Twitter @drbonitav.


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1 Comment

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