As experts in sourcing and developing print and web-based information resources, careers information officers play a vital role in any careers service

As a careers information officer, you'll identify, analyse and assess the suitability and value of information relevant to a careers service or careers information unit.

You'll develop strategies for information planning, procurement, provision and management to meet current and anticipated needs, while considering budgeting constraints.

As well as providing a service to internal service users, such as current and former students and work colleagues, you'll also work with external users, such as other organisations and clients.

You may also be responsible for other areas within the service, which are not necessarily information-related, for example:

  • overseeing quality standards issues
  • coordinating, organising and administering general training
  • liaising with clients about employment and training opportunities
  • planning and hosting events for the service's users.

Responsibilities

As a careers information officer, you'll need to:

  • source relevant careers information and present it in a way that's accessible to the user
  • organise, classify, maintain and store information, often using computer applications for access and retrieval
  • search for information, using hard copy and electronic formats
  • answer information enquiries from service users and work colleagues
  • provide information support to colleagues within the service and to outside associates
  • market, advertise and publicise the service
  • plan and give presentations and information unit tours
  • represent the service at internal and external events
  • collect and analyse data for evaluation of the service
  • write reports, blogs, web articles and publications
  • plan, design and supervise IT and website provision
  • liaise with other information providers
  • use social media, for example Twitter and LinkedIn, to communicate information
  • collect, collate and present statistical data.

In a more senior role, for example careers information manager, you may also need to:

  • recruit, train and supervise information and support staff
  • plan and control the information-provision budget.

The size of the organisation you work for may have an impact on certain aspects of the job, such as the amount of routine 'housekeeping' tasks, supervision of information staff and the potential for specialisation.

Salary

  • Starting salaries for careers information officers typically range from £18,000 to £22,000.
  • With experience, you can earn between £22,000 and £28,000.
  • Depending on your experience and qualifications, salaries can rise to in excess of £30,000.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Working hours are typically 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. You may need to work some weekends or evenings to meet client needs.

What to expect

  • The work tends to be office-based, working mainly with other staff and clients.
  • Jobs are available in careers services and careers units throughout the country.
  • Some tasks, such as updating information and gathering statistics, may be cyclical and performed at the same times each year.
  • There is little opportunity for self-employment and freelance work, although part-time work and career breaks are possible.
  • You won't generally need to travel, unless you work on a number of separate sites. You may need to travel to attend training and conferences.

Qualifications

This area of work is open to graduates of all subjects. You may get a job with an HND or foundation degree only, although employers tend to prefer a degree.

You may be able to enter the profession with other qualifications, such as the Level 4 NVQ Diploma in Advice and Guidance (SVQ Level 4 Advice and Guidance), if you also have relevant skills and experience.

Although you don't need a postgraduate qualification, an MA or MSc in librarianship or information science/management may help with competition for jobs. For details of accredited degrees and Masters see CILIP Accredited Qualifications.

Search postgraduate courses in information science.

Skills

You will need to show:

  • excellent oral communication skills to respond effectively to a range of enquiries
  • effective writing skills for communicating information in a variety of different mediums and to a range of audiences
  • the ability to deal effectively with people, using tact, courtesy and patience
  • intellectual ability - breadth of knowledge, a retentive memory and the skills to think laterally
  • information retrieval and research skills, using hard copy, digital and electronic formats
  • a flexible approach to work
  • good IT skills, including knowledge of web applications and use of social media tools
  • good organisational and time management skills
  • problem-solving analytical skills
  • customer service skills
  • a logical and methodical approach to work.

Work experience

It's useful to have pre-entry experience in library, information or guidance work. Marketing, administrative or research experience is also relevant.

Voluntary work or work shadowing at your university or college careers service can be helpful and will provide a useful insight into the range of skills required and activities involved in careers information work.

Competition is keen for all posts and in some cases you may need to take on a role as a careers information assistant before moving into an officer role.

Employers

Employment may be in any organisation with a careers information service or unit, particularly:

  • university and college careers services
  • careers consultancies
  • careers publishers
  • careers software houses and website providers
  • government departments
  • private careers services
  • recruitment and employment agencies.

Small services' facilities may require an information officer to complete basic administrative tasks such as booking appointments, photocopying or dealing with vacancy information.

In organisations where there are several information points, such as some private careers services, information officers may have little contact with service customers. Instead, they may fulfil a more consultancy-type role, supporting the initial contact staff within individual units and working with external organisations, such as schools, to offer advice on the contents of their careers libraries.

Look for job vacancies at:

Professional development

Courses and training opportunities vary depending on your employer. You'll typically learn on the job and undertake in-house training as well as external courses in information provision or related areas such as web development and using social media.

The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) provide training opportunities in specific areas, such as:

  • challenges of careers work in higher education
  • collection management
  • information in the digital age
  • guidance skills
  • employer engagement and labour markets
  • writing for the web.

There are a variety of options available, from short courses to post-experience certificates, diplomas and MAs, delivered via seminars, conferences, taught or research courses and through more informal meetings and discussion groups.

You may undertake postgraduate or professional qualifications in more specialised areas, such as librarianship or information science/management, IT or careers guidance.

Other bodies, such as employers' groups, may offer day events where information staff can broaden their knowledge and understanding of a specific occupation, employing organisation or area of work.

Career prospects

There may be little scope for advancement once you've progressed through the pay scale of a particular post, although there are some opportunities to progress to an information manager role, with responsibility for managing a team of information officers and assistants. Moving from a small service to a larger one may provide more scope for progression.

If you have an interest in guidance, there are opportunities to undertake guidance training and move into a careers adviser or employability adviser post. Alternatively, you could gain chartered librarianship status and move into a librarian role.

Depending on your area of interest, there may also be opportunities to move into IT or marketing roles.