Know the Issues & Officials

Know the Issues

The National Career Development Association’s Policy Agenda covers a wide-range of issues and topics important to career development professionals. The Agenda provides a basis from which the Government Relations Committee works. You might also find it helpful in connecting issues that are important to you back to NCDA.

The Art of “The Ask”

Asking for something specific is sometimes the only way to get a Congressional office's attention. Your goal is to force someone in the office to think about you and your issues for longer than 5 minutes -- making the "ask" helps you achieve that goal. There are essentially two kinds of asks:

  1. Policy - oriented around specific legislative or government initiatives (e.g., asking a member to support funding for programs in the Workforce Investment Act)

  2. Relationship-building “asks” are things you ask for that aren’t necessarily policy-related, such as a site visit, but that may help you with policy “asks” in the future.

What Current Legislation and Policy Issues are NCDA Following Now?

NCDA is following three key federal issues that will impact career counselors. They are:

  1. Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

  2. Workforce Investment Act

  3. Appropriations for the Departments of Labor and Education

Each of these includes policy provisions, program developments or spending cuts that will directly affect career counselors across the country. Following are details on each:

Briefing: Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization

Briefing: Workforce Investment Act Reauthorization

Briefing: Appropriations


Tips for Relationship-Building Asks:

Ask your elected officials to be actively engaged - it enhances their investment in your issue. Following are some options for your elected official to consider.

  • Visit something in the community that relates to your ask, such as a career counseling center (see “at home strategies” for more information on how to set one up).
  • Write an article for your newsletter.
  • Submit a statement for your Web site or participate in an online discussion.
  • Hold a town hall or community meeting on your issue (see “at home strategies” for more information on how to attend a townhall meeting).
  • Meet with you and other supporters in the district office.

Know Your Elected Officials

Almost every citizen of the United States has two Senators and one House Representative (sorry territories and D.C., you have just one delegate). To be an effective advocate, there are a few things you should know about your elected officials:

Who are they?

Look up your Federal legislators: Go to and/or

Look up State legislators: Go to your state legislative website.

What are their politics, background and interests?

Try or for a more comprehensive background.

What are their policy interests?

Go to to look up bills they’ve introduced.

What are their connections to career counseling issues? Review their biographical information to see what schools they’ve gone to or the careers they’ve had.


This background information will help you craft messages that resonate with your legislators (discussed further in the “Tell Your Story” section. For example, members interested in business issues will respond to arguments about the economic benefits of career counseling. Legislators interested in technology issues will want to know more about the work being done to bring career counseling in to the 21st Century.