Case study

Registered career guidance practitioner — Lis McGuire

Having set up her own CV writing business, Lis went on to undertake further study to qualify as a registered career development practitioner. Find out how her career is developing

What did you study?

I studied my first degree, a BA (Hons) Ancient History and Archaeology, at the University of Liverpool, graduating in 1997. After six years in marketing-related roles, I set up and ran a successful CV writing business, Giraffe CVs. In 2016, keen to develop my skills and knowledge, I enrolled on an MA in Career Management at Canterbury Christ Church University. I completed the course in January 2019 and graduated in February 2019.

How did you get your job?

My Masters included the level 7 Qualification in Career Guidance (QCG). Gaining the QCG enabled me to join the Career Development Institute's (CDI's) register and call myself a Registered Career Development Professional (RCDP).

Since becoming a freelance RCDP, I have set up my own website, Sunrise Career Guidance, and taken on new contracts delivering personal and group-based career guidance in schools and third-sector settings. I have also continued my work as a CV writer.

What's a typical working day like?

As a freelancer, no two days are the same. Some days I am writing CVs, others delivering personal guidance or facilitating group programmes.

I work one-to-one with adult clients and also with secondary school students at schools across Kent and South East London. I also enjoy designing and facilitating group-based career learning and development (CLD) programmes and one-off CLD workshops, helping people of all ages to develop their career management skills. One of the highlights of my week is facilitating a CLD programme for adult clients at Blackthorn Trust.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I get great enjoyment from helping people to feel confident, optimistic and excited about their career. I like the variety of working with people of all ages.

What are the challenges?

As a freelancer with a portfolio career, I am spinning quite a few plates. A full schedule and my commitment to clients often means I work evenings and weekends.

In what way is your degree relevant?

My undergraduate degree isn't directly relevant to my career, but it gave me confidence to study at Masters level, which has enabled my career growth.

What are your career ambitions?

I plan to offer more remote (telephone-based) career guidance appointments. I would also like to deliver more programmes to adult clients in community settings.

What are your top tips for choosing a Masters?

University location and course timescales were important to me, as I studied while working and juggling parenting responsibilities. A part-time course at a local university was a must. I contacted existing students via LinkedIn to seek advice. To my surprise and good fortune, one has now become a valued mentor, helping me to develop my career in this field. I'd advise looking at course content, delivery methods, entry requirements and student destinations too.

What's your advice to others wanting to become a careers adviser?

  • Study for a Masters and/or level 7 QCG if you can. These qualifications have equipped me for a varied, interesting career.
  • Seek experience with clients of all ages in different contexts. My QCG required me to complete 30 days’ placement in careers-related settings. This was invaluable, helping me work out where I enjoy working and can add value.
  • Use your studies to prepare for your future career. My MA research led directly to a job opportunity with a local charity. Choosing research subjects relevant to your chosen field can give you a head start.

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