Competency Category:

3.4 – Engage Reluctant or Resistant Clients

Purpose & Context

Career Development Professionals (CDPs) recognize that client engagement is critical for successful outcomes. CDPs develop client confidence to engage with the career development intervention, addressing resistance constructively, and acknowledging concerns while seeking to increase engagement.

Effective Performance

Competent career development professionals must be able to:

  • P1. Recognize signs of reluctance or resistance, for example:
    • Missed appointments
    • Silence
    • Excessive small talk
    • Not following up on agreed upon activities
  • P2. Identify reasons for reluctance or resistance, for example:
    • Fear of change
    • Unresolved barriers
    • Perceived incompatibly between client and CDP, e.g. gender, personality, delivery style
    • Systemic barriers and generational history
    • Cultural differences, e.g. uncomfortable with discussing personal issues
    • Lack of understanding of services
  • P3. Work with client to overcome reasons for reluctance or resistance, for example:
    • Allow client to express fears
    • Acknowledge natural responses to systemic barriers
    • Help client visualize positive outcomes
    • Identify resources to assist with barriers, e.g. transportation, childcare
  • P4. Seek client’s views on client practitioner relationship, i.e. actively encourage questions/feedback
  • P5. Adjust intervention to accommodate client needs, as required, for example:
    • Provide appointments at times convenient to client
    • Lengthen appointments to lower sense of urgency
    • Reinforce confidentiality of working relationship
    • Refer client to other CDP, if required

Knowledge & Understanding

Competent career development professionals must know and understand:

  • K1. Signs of reluctance or resistance
  • K2. Reasons for reluctance or resistance
  • K3. Cultural differences
  • K4. Strategies to overcome reluctance or resistance

Contextual Variables

Competent career development professionals must be able to perform this competency in the following range of contexts:

Resistance can be a result of a range of past experiences which must be addressed by CDPs.

Glossary & Key References


Industry-specific terms contained in the standard defined here, where applicable.


Information Sources and Resources for Consideration


Context Rating Scales


Q: What is the consequence of a professional being unable to perform this skill according to the standard?

Moderate risk: CRITICAL


Q: How frequent and under what conditions is this skill performed?

Unexpectedly, e.g. when emergency arises

Level of Difficulty

Q: Under routine circumstances, how would you rate the level of difficulty in performing this skill?

Moderate difficulty or complexity

Time Required to Gain Proficiency

Q: What is the average length of time or number of repeated events that are minimally necessary for an individual to become proficient in performing the skill to the standard?

To become fully proficient in this competency, a career development professional requires a minimum of one year of experience with at least 40 different clients, representing a broad range of individuals.


Practitioners typically perform this competency without supervision, and alone.


It is unlikely that this competency will automate.

Requisite Work Aids, Tools, Equipment or Materials


Career Development Professional Centre

Help us cultivate a community we all enjoy by reviewing and following the Code of Conduct.  

Our Purpose  

Thank you for being a part of the online CDPC social learning community. To ensure that all members have the best possible experience, we have a few ground rules that we ask everyone to adhere to. This code of conduct applies equally to every person in the community and is intended to foster an online space that is inclusive, safe, and welcoming to all. 

Community Rules 

Be welcoming 

We strive to be a community that welcomes and supports people of all backgrounds and identities. We aim to create and facilitate a community that promotes excellence and innovation in career and workforce development. Please extend respect to all members; we all come from different backgrounds and levels of knowledge and there is no such thing as a stupid question. 

Be respectful 

We won’t all agree all the time, but when we disagree don’t let those disagreements turn into personal attacks. A community where people feel uncomfortable or threatened will not be a productive one. Instead, when having discussions in the online community, create productive conversations around the content being presented, not the person behind the content. Any post that is determined to be “hate speech” towards any individual or group will be deleted, and the user account may be locked until an investigation regarding the post has been concluded. The user may be given a written warning or removed from the CPDC community platform depending on the findings of the investigation.  

Hate Speech could include and is not limited to:  

  • Violent threats or language directed against another person 
  • Discriminatory jokes, language, or materials 
  • Defamatory or abusive language or materials 
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A good rule of thumb is to never post anything that you wouldn’t be comfortable with the world seeing or that you wouldn’t want anyone knowing came from you. We ask that you keep in mind the focus of this community, which is building excellence and innovation in career and workforce development for all individuals.  

Be considerate of the purpose of the community 

This community will be focused on building excellence and discussing innovation in the career and workforce development field. The goal of this community is to communicate goals, challenges, constructive feedback, and questions in relation to career and workforce development. The community should be a place for continued learning and development as well as a place to discuss the future of our field (solicitation without written consent by the Project or Advisory team, is strictly prohibited). Any post that is determined to be soliciting any individual or group will be deleted, and the user account may be locked until an investigation regarding the post has been concluded. The user may be given a written warning or removed from the CPDC community platform depending on the findings of the investigation. 

Post your discussions or documents in the most appropriate group or topic 

Make reasonable efforts to ensure that posts and materials are allocated to the appropriate group or topic. This will prevent cluttering the community and make it easier for everyone to find the information that they are seeking. Individuals who do this repeatedly will be contacted by one of the group admins and asked to follow these guidelines.  

Privacy and Release of Information  

CDPC-CEDC will not release your information to any third-party agencies.  

Group Admins 

There are four group admins who are available to you. Below are their names and their spoken language. 

Heather Powell | Anglophone 

Gabrielle St-Cyr | Francophone/Anglophone 

Florence Desrochers | Francophone/Anglophone

Muriel Andoblé-Yao | Francophone

Thank you and welcome to the CDPC Community!