Understanding career development

What do career development professionals do? 

Career development professionals provide activities and services which assist individuals or organisations seeking support to affect a wide range of career transitions. These may be associated with life and career stages, including the development of the career ideas of young people. 

Contexts include educational choices, work experience and internships, labour market entry, skills and vocational training, job search, sector/management level change, promotion or transfer, redundancy, entrepreneurial business development, working identity change, disability and stress related career development issues, adjustments to life-work balance, returners to the labour market, portfolio working and pre-retirement choices. 

Where might they work? 

Activities and services may be delivered in schools, universities, colleges, training organisations, public employment services, the workplace, community or voluntary sector and the private sector. They may be provided on an individual or group basis and may be face-to-face or at a distance (including helplines and web-based services). 

They include the provision of information, ideas, tools and resources (verbal, printed, web-based or other forms), administration of assessment and self-assessment tools, career guidance interviews, career education programmes, career coaching, taster programmes, work search programmes, outplacement, redundancy and transition services, retention and talent management reviews, career progression or promotion, training, or other forms of career development-related consultancy, research and professional development. [Adapted by CPA (2011) from the OECD (2004) definition] 

Defining the role 

The term ‘career development practitioner' is used by us to describe those engaged in the provision of career development services. The term includes professionals who regard career guidance as their main professional activity.  However, other organisations, employers and publications may use different terms or titles to describe the same function (for example 'careers adviser', 'career coach', 'personal adviser' etc). 

Career development archive 

The CDI is proud to host the career development archive, to retain as much of the long history of the profession as possible. With the support of dedicated volunteers and generous donations of materials by key figures in the profession, the archive is a growing, living library of the memories of careers work. Learn more about the Career development archive.