It’s not my intention to give full information or an extensive discussion on every theory. This website is intended to be a starting point and the main difference with other websites is the visual representation of the theory, which I hope will help get to grips with the theory. There are also links it the bottom to get your further research started.

Career Engagement Model

Roberta A. Neault & Deirdre A. Pickerell 2011

Description of the Career Engagement Model

Many, if not most, career theories perceive career planning as an action the client needs to make, (almost) nothing to do with the employer. The Career Engagement Model is different in that it argues for both the employer and the employee need to achieve a ‘sweet spot’ that is beneficial for both. This feels slightly reminiscent to the trait and factor approach in which the career professional matched the client’s abilities to what the ‘job’ requires. The different is that in the Career Engagement Model neither the client nor the employer are passive bystanders. They are the actors.


The ‘world of work’ is forever changing, now more than ever. Also, now more than ever it’s a matter of preparing for this and the scope for building a long term plan is in many ways much smaller than it ever was in the past 100 or so years. In most professions, the requirement is one of adapting to change. Even if a client is staying within one organisation, they will not have a static position for the rest of their lives. There is an increasing requirement for employees, but also self employed people and freelancers, to offer that flexibility and for employers to be flexible as well to maximise potential.


More information

The career engagement model sits in between, and is the link between employee engagement on the side of the employer and career engagement on the side of the employee.

Career theories Engagement Model by Neault and Pickerell; the bridge between employee engagement and career engagement.


Now, have a look to see what this model looks like and think about how it fits in with your practice and what you are doing now.

Career theories engagement model by Neault and Pickerell for guidance theory.

You can hopefully see that this model looks very different from most other career theories and models.


How is this model linked to other models and theories?

If you look at the diagram above closely you can recognise several influences. As I mentioned above, there are some very, very broad similarities with trait and factor. But then again, if we look closer still, not really. Both the client and the employer/world of work are active components of applying this model. The practitioner is not the ‘specialist’ but s/he is slightly more:

  • The facilitator for the client to discover their own values and qualities
  • And at the same time educator (through careful questioning) in helping the client discover the intricacies of the world of work as it is (as opposed to how it’s still stereotyped by many)

A second point to recognise is that this model focuses on lifelong learning, which implies life long challenges and change. This puts it in a direct line with other theories such as happenstance and the chaos theory of careers, amongst others. This is reflected in that this model argues in favour of assisting the client in building the skills and resilience to adapt and fit in with an every changing work environment.


How can we use this theory with clients?

You may think, if this involves the employer as well, how am I supposed to help clients? It’s between the client and the employer! Yes and no. Since this model is related to that of happenstance in that it doesn’t see a fixed career path but a path of life long learning and adapting, in this case in collaboration with ‘the world of work’ there are techniques and approaches we can use to help clients. Similar to its related theories, we can help clients build the tools and self-awareness/self-understanding to help them find their place in an ever changing world of work. If we look again at the visual representation of the theory above, the two boxes in blue on the left will give us strong indications on what we can focus on with the client:

  • Understanding the world of work – we can help the client become aware of the world of work and its intricacies so they can build these into their plan, if there is one. It will help the client be more realistic, if needed, in the realisation of their ideas and plans.
  • Understanding of their skills, attributes, support network, aptitudes, etc… so they can negotiate the world of work and employers and find opportunities that put them in the ‘sweet spot’ and stay there as they move through life, change employers, learn more skills, etc…



Activity buttonHave a look to see what your answer will be to the following questions:

  • What is your experience of the workplace over the years? How does this compare to the experience of those around you who are of a different age? Does this theory make sense in that respect?
  • Have a look at the video below and particularly notice the ‘now, next, future’ concept. Why would you put less effort into the future and a lot into the present or ‘now’? Is this justified? Why/why not?
  • What is the scope of this theory? How would this work with someone who doesn’t know at all what they want to do next year, for instance? How would this work with someone who is determined they know what they are going to do for the rest of their life?
  • Roberta Neault claims working with the employer is as important. How would you be able to do that? Or even… would you be able to do that? What resources would you need? Are they readily available?


Useful Links


For consideration in relation to this theory: