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Career transition consultants’ perceived roles

Emilie Hennequin (PRISM Sorbonne, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University, Paris, France)
Bérangère Condomines (LIRSA, Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, Paris, France)
Nouchka Wielhorski (PRISM Sorbonne, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University, Paris, France)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 9 October 2017




Employment transitions are an integral part of an individual’s career path. However, not every individual can cope with these changes. Some may not know how to mobilise their capacities in order to return to work. Consequently, various countries have devised policies aimed at supporting the unemployed, in programmes that are led by consultants. The purpose of this paper is to present a case study of career transition consultants who work for a private consulting firm. It examines how consultants perceive their role and how these perceptions influence the support they provide to beneficiaries.


In total, 20 French career transition consultants took part in the interviews. Qualitative data were gathered through semi-structured interviews.


Ideal types of career consultants were drawn up, based on the distinction between the agent model and the community model. Depending on their perceived role, consultants set up different career transition strategies and develop different capacities among their beneficiaries.

Research limitations/implications

Consultants advocate for flexible support for people seeking employment. This research aims to question the policy of distributing beneficiaries among consultants’ portfolios. In France, the approach is made without considering the beneficiary’s profile. A better approach would be to find common ground between the consultant’s profile and the beneficiary’s expectations (e.g. help with business start-up, a career plan, or psychological support). Further, the differentiation of profiles and practices opens up other research opportunities (in corporate coaching, tutoring, and vocational guidance).

Practical implications

From a managerial point of view, this research questions the policy of distribution of the beneficiaries in consultants’ portfolios. Indeed, in France, the approach is made a priori (without exact knowledge of the beneficiary’s profile). Yet, it seems that the approach would be more effective if consulting firms looked for common ground between the consultant’s profile and the beneficiary’s specific expectation (e.g. help with a new business start-up, the creation of a career plan, or a specific need for psychological support).


This research investigates a little known and important fact in career transition management: the heterogeneous nature of consultancy service and the capacities consultants highlight as being helpful to beneficiaries in career transition.



Hennequin, E., Condomines, B. and Wielhorski, N. (2017), "Career transition consultants’ perceived roles", Career Development International, Vol. 22 No. 6, pp. 683-702.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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