Careers consultant: job description

Careers consultants provide advice about training, employment options and career progression to professionals and career changers.

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What does a careers consultant do? | Graduate salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Careers consultants (also known as careers coaches) provide guidance to people making decisions about their career. They are different from the careers advisers you may have come across at university or through a local authority or charity: they generally work with clients who have experience in the world of work rather than those just starting out. They use their specialist skills in coaching and advice to guide people aiming for a promotion, those wanting to change career direction and those who need to find a new role.

Typical duties include:

  • assessing clients' personal characteristics, skills and interests via one-to-one interviews, psychometric and personality tests and workshops
  • providing advice and recommendations based on interviews and test results
  • offering practical assistance with job seeking, applications/CVs, interviews and career management
  • supporting people going through redundancy (this area of work is also known as ‘outplacement’)
  • writing action plans, reports and careers literature
  • marketing and promoting their services.

Starting salaries

Careers consulting tends not to be a role you can step straight into as a new graduate, as you usually need specialist qualifications and/or experience. There are a small number of trainee roles in which you can learn on the job – targetjobs analysed some individual vacancies being advertised and it seems as if you’ll earn between around £25,000 and £36,000 in these.

Typical employers of careers consultants

  • Outplacement firms
  • Training and coaching organisations.

Many careers consultants are self-employed – although this is only an option for those with several years' relevant experience.

Opportunities are advertised on national newspapers’ websites as well as specialist sites such as the Career Development Institute.

Qualifications and training required

You’ll need specialist qualifications to join the Career Development Institute’s professional register and many employers also request these. Relevant courses include masters and postgraduate certificates in career development, coaching and organisational psychology. Teaching experience and qualifications can also be helpful.

Key skills for careers consultants

  • Excellent communication and listening skills.
  • Analytical skills for use when examining test scores and employment-related trends.
  • Workshop facilitation skills.
  • Presentation skills.
  • Commercial awareness, especially if self-employed.
  • Coaching skills, along with the ability to inspire confidence.

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