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Help someone find their path

How does career development work?

Below is a basic flowchart of career development, linked to career entrepreneurship.

Please, click on any of the boxes for further detail or click on the hand signal to go to more detail still on a separate page.

Phases of career development
First stage of career development Implementation phase Maintenance phase Need for change Initial

First stage of career development

This is the stage where people use their initial assets and qualities to make an assessment on which direction to go into, in combination with information of the world of work and industry. In this stage, people make decisions based on their interests, talent, influences, preferences, likes and dislikes, aptitudes, etc... In this stage it is very important to also explore the world of work and opportunities 'out there' as well as what employers are looking for. This part is often partly neglected and in the worst case forgotten. In recent years there is more onus on also including 'the needs of industry but this is not always easy for a variety of resons. In order to offer effective support and guidance, career professionals will not only need to use techniques focused on the individual client, but also their exploration and knowledge of the world of work and techniques to implement this knowledge effectively.

Implementation phase

Once a client has made some decisions as to where to go next, or what career and/or industry to engage in, they implement their career decision by starting their first or next job opportunity. This is where they put their learning into action but also start acquiring new learning, specific to the requirements of the job or business. To engage in this stage, clients may need support with confidence building, techniques for applying for work and promoting themselves to businesses, specific job related social skills, job related problem solving skills etc... In the case of a school leaver with limited or no work experience, this is a challenging stage as not only is there a lot to learn, but they also need to adapt to a new lifestyle and daily schedule. This often entails additional transport, longer days and in some cases more intense physical demands. Young people especially may need support to make this a successful transition.

Maintenance phase

In this stage, the client will establish themselves further, potentially look for further opportunities within the business and widen as well as deepen their skills base. This phase may for some mean a more routine day to day schedule in which they feel settled. Depending on the client, they will look for opportunities for self development and reward, either through specialisation or the quality of their work or through promotion within the organisation.

Need for change

Depending on the opportunities available for self fulfilment and self actuation, in this phase motivation may be an issue. We all have days when we don't want to go to work, but if this becomes a longer term issue because of lack of opportunity or too much routine, clients may need support in exploring motivation, change, self development and other options. If this situation reaches certain personal thresholds, clients may need support in managing a job change, career change or complete change of direction.

Alternatively, this stage may occur because of declining possibilities within a business which may lead to a worsening work environment or in the worst case redundancy.

In both of the above scenarios, clients may want to move back to the intial development phase and may want to 'take stock' and see where to go next. This may involve additional training or education, one to one career counselling or coaching, other support linked to someone losing their job, exploring new and different opportunities etc, after which a client will move to the next entry phase. This may be an easier entry phase when they stay within the same field or industry and may only require them to adapt to a new employer and work methods. On the other hand, this may be a complete new start or somewhere in between.


The initial stage: tacking stock

This may look a lot like matching theory, but with a difference. You will notice there’s some happenstance mixed in as well because one of the main criticisms of matching theory is that it is too static and assumes a fixed personality and fixed ‘world of work’. Both of these are far from the truth. We all develop throughout life as a consequence of outside influences, the aging process, life experiences, etc… The world of work too is always changing. In part, this is because of technology, both directly and inderectly. Directly in the sense that a lot of workplace technologies have and will change the nature or work and the kind of careers that are available. Some career options disappear, others appear and all of them change over time.

Krumbolz also recognised the importance of chance in career planning and career decision making. Many of us will have had chance encounters that have changed our life in a small or big way. This could be because of life circumstances or chance encounters. Opening yourself up to those encounters is key and will or can change ones life course completely, hopefully for the better.

What does this look like?

The initial development phase

The initial development phase
Internal processing Planned happenstance External processes

Internal processing

Who you are, what you like or dislike and what you have to offer is key in making decisions on what area or direction to go into. This part involves the client taking stock of all they have to offer, including: talent they have, skills they have acquired or want to develop, experiences a client may have had already, interests a client may have, their educational history (so far), what they like and don't like, etc... This can involve a range of techniques such as open questioning, reframing, online exploration, online tools such as Startprofile, Kudos etc... (the days of Jiig Cal are fortunately long gone!). Another tool which is a bit more sophisticated in the right hands is Morrisby. In all cases, follow up in helping the client interpret the results is in almost all cases essential to make sure tools are used for the right reason and the results are not misinterpreted.

Planned happenstance

Planned happenstance in this case doens't need to mean the planned happenstance Krumbolz refers to. I would take this further in that it includes 'self-promotion' in a good way. This is a very important area of planning that for a long time (and still today) has been underestimated or in the worst case, ignored. Planned happenstance is to most professionals a familiar concept these days but how we implement it in our practice is a different matter. This could be through enticing or encouraging a client to set foot outside their comfort zone and talk to people, put themselves in the right place at the right time. This is easier said than done but a range of marketing techniques can come to the rescue. A lot of schools will have a week (or two) of work experience, and this would be a very good way of getting in contact with employers and opening themselves up to those chance encounters. In general, any encounter with an employer is a chance to promote yourself, find out more and explore new avenues. Even if a work experience placement is not good, it's a learning experience. And then there are those chance encounters you can't plan for; that meeting on the train, that person in the shop you talk to or at the gym...

External processes

In the context of matching theory, this would be 'employment'. In the context I would prefer to use it here, there is far more involved, however. Making an audit of the job sector or the job market would be a good idea to get a full idea of what opportunities there are 'out there'. This would need to involve where a career path is likely to evolve to in the future, as well as the job market now. It's of course important to do a mini audit with the client first so you know where they are in their exploration already. I have had clients in the past where I made an assumption that proved to be completely unfounded. Techiques for exploring the job market are plentiful. Apart from discussion, fact is important in exploring this and there is no getting out of using external sources. These could range from employer talks and work experience to online resources. One good example could be Careersmart, which offers a lot of LMI in an easy to understand format and a pleasant colourful layout for the client. Another resource which is not to be underestimated is job vacancy sites. It's possible to find out a lot of detail about jobs that are available at this very moment. However, it's important to keep the client's plans in mind as going to university easily takes another 3 years and a lot can change in the meantime. There are more general websites too, such as prospects.ac.uk and careerpilot.

Apart from 'the world of work' there are also educational opportunities to explore which very much depend on local opportunities, apart from higher education, the opportunities for which can be explored on Ucas, which is always a good starter resource.