Careers consultant: job description

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

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Careers consultants can work with high-fliers, career changers and those who are facing uncertain futures and seeking a fresh start in the face of redundancy.

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

Careers consultants provide guidance to people making choices about their career. They could help a client who wants to further their career, a client who wants to change career direction, or a client who isn’t quite sure what they want.

Careers consultants undertake a wide range of duties including:

  • assessing clients' personal characteristics, skills and interests via one-to-one interviews and/or group sessions
  • providing appropriate help, advice and recommendations based on interviews/test results
  • running workshops
  • offering practical assistance with job seeking, applications/CVs and interviews
  • administering and interpreting psychometric and personality tests
  • helping clients to solve problems and manage their own careers
  • aiding clients in their search for appropriate employment
  • writing action plans, reports and careers literature
  • counselling clients that are suffering from stress or facing redundancy/redeployment
  • undertaking general administration
  • marketing and promoting services.

Typical employers of careers consultants

Employers of careers consultants include: management consultants, HR departments and private career/occupational psychologist consultancies. Many careers consultants are self-employed, but this is normally only a viable option for individuals with several years' relevant experience.

Opportunities are advertised via the internet, in local, regional and national newspapers and in publications including Portico (a fortnightly recruitment magazine by the Institute of Careers Guidance).

Qualifications and training required

Although any degree discipline is acceptable for entry into the profession, many careers consultants possess degrees in subjects such as human resources and psychology. Professional qualifications in career guidance, counselling or personnel management are also useful. A list of relevant courses is available on the Career Development Institute’s website.

Several years of relevant work experience is normally necessary prior to entry. This can be gained in public sector/higher education careers advising, personnel management, counselling or occupational psychology.

Membership with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) offers opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD) and can help show your commitment to your field. You can become a member by obtaining a CIPD qualification or through experience assessment, where you use your experience from the past three years to gain professional recognition.

Key skills for careers consultants

Careers consultants should have:

  • plenty of confidence
  • excellent listening, verbal and written communication skills
  • confidentiality
  • a non-prejudicial manner
  • good interpersonal skills.

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