Of the many services offered to students at universities, careers advice is perhaps one of the most important. A careers advisor guides and assists undergraduates and graduates to prepare them for job interviews, job applications, career development.
A careers advisor makes a link between a student’s course of study and their career path. They put students in touch with employers and vice versa, organizing careers fairs and open days to help graduates and companies meet.
Although many careers services operate one-to-one interviews to counsel individual students, workshops and group sessions are very popular as a way of increasing job skills and finding new options.
It is a diverse role that requires excellent communication skills, adaptability, and lateral thinking.
- Advising students about career choices in one-to-one interviews
- Organising and running group sessions to provide careers advice
- Contacting employers to encourage interest in the university’s students
- Arranging career fairs and open days
- Psychometric testing
- Offering careers advice on such things as CV writing, interview techniques, transferable skills, career options, job application forms etc.
- Open to graduates of any discipline
- A thorough knowledge of the HE sector
- Impeccable communication skills (written and oral)
- The ability to be patient and to be discreet when handling client information
- Good negotiating skills
- Presentation skills
- IT skills
- The ability to cope under pressure
- Confidence and public speaking experience
An undergraduate degree is generally the minimum requirement for a careers advisor.
Many institutions offer training to employees. It is beneficial, although not essential in the HE sector, to have either a QCG (Qualification in Careers Guidance) or an NVQ in Advice and Guidance. These qualifications teach skills that are essential to a careers advisor.
Experience as an interviewer, mentor, coach, or advisor in another field is often essential. The role of careers advisor is not always seen as an entry-level post, so it can be useful to take on a role, paid or voluntary, that will give you experience of the above.
- Starting salaries range from £18,000 – £25,000 with the possibility to earn more with experience.
- Pay progresses with experience and responsibilities, up to £50,000
- Workloads vary throughout the year, with peak times getting quite stressful
- Average working hours are 9am to 5pm, although some flexibility is required
Opportunity for professional development is not too common, but experience and skills can lead to more senior posts such as Head of Services. Many Career Advisors move to larger institutions in order to advance their career.
- Senior Careers Advisor
- Deputy Director of Services
- Director of Careers Service
- UK Universities
- Higher Education Institutions, such as Colleges
- Human Resources Officer
- Recruitment Consultant