DiscoverLearn/Perform Mixtape7.3. Career Development Theories & Approaches
7.3. Career Development Theories & Approaches

7.3. Career Development Theories & Approaches

Update: 2019-12-10


AOE 7. Integrated Talent Management; 7.3. Career Development Theories and Approaches

Learning Objectives: 

  • Define the balance between personal assessment and the market

  • Discuss Williamson’s trait-and-factor theory and how it relates to career development

  • Define the Super developmental framework

  • Summarize each of the personality or typology theories, including Roe’s theory, Holland’s occupational congruency model, and psychodynamic theory, and compare their value for the individual employee

  • Describe Krumboltz’s behavioral theory

  • Discuss Schein’s career anchors theory

  • Describe how generational issues affect career development

  • List development programs for key roles and jobs in the organization

Balance Between Personal Assessment and the Market: To determine the ideal future at work, in terms of our own career plan, is a process of considering different concepts and theories -- this is known as career development. Zandy B. Leibowitz (1986) sees career as a “vision must be realistic and provide a strong link between the present situation and future possibilities… real needs, structures, and cultures.” The goal is to offer a sense of direction and rationale for these career approaches and theories to measure actual results in your career journey.

Trait-Factor Counseling:
is a cognitive career counseling approach based on the theory of individual differences. Known as the talent-matching approach, it assumes that each person has a unique pattern of relatively stable traits, interests, abilities, and characteristics that can be identified as an occupational profile. This approach originated in the early 1900’s and is associated strongly with vocational theorists Frank Parsons and E.G. WIlliamson.

  • This theory is often criticized throughout the industry; as it refers to a trait characteristic as an item that can be measured through testing and a factor characteristic are required for successful job performance

  • Traits include: intelligence, ambition, aptitude, self esteem; factors are statistical representation of these traits

  • Trait-factor counseling criticism: describes matching people to jobs as “square-peg, square-hole” approach

BONUS LISTEN: Satya Nadella: Don’t Be Brilliant, Be Curious episode from the Hello Monday podcast

Super’s Developmental Framework
: D.E. Super’s career development theory includes the idea that our careers move through five distinct phases from childhood through adulthood; the choice of an occupation is highly influenced by each person’s self-image and how this self-image maps to people already in a particular occupation. 5 stages/phases:

  1. Growth Stage

  2. Exploratory Stage

  3. Establishment Stage

  4. Maintenance Stage

  5. Decline Stage

READ/LEARN MORE: Super's Theory via the Government of NZ Careers Site

Personality or Typology Theory: some career theories match individuals to occupations based on their personality, strengths, interests, values, characteristics, and more. For example:

Roe’s Theory of Occupation
: divides occupations into eight groups of service and six decision levels; can be used to assess individuals to determine best career choice based on interests.

READ MORE: Anne Roe’s Theory on Occupational Choice

This is similar to Holland’s Occupational Congruency Model that seeks to match individual sto the best career choice through interviews that deal with six types of work environments known as RIASEC:

  1. Realistic: physical strength, motor connection, concrete problem-solving

  2. Investigative: ideas and thoughts; intellectual activity

  3. Artistic: less personal interaction; self-expression

  4. Social: Interaction with others

  5. Enterprising: use of verbal and social skills

  6. Conventional: rules and regulations

READ MORE: Holland’s Theory of Career Choice and You

Assess: Holland Code (RIASEC) Test: 

Behavioral Theory
: suggests that career-related behavior can be broken down into parts to better understand our own behavior at work. Here are a couple of theorists and their examples/models:

Behavior Career Counseling
: is a scientifically precise approach to career decision making that leverages concepts from psychology; this approach notes that career-related behavior (e.g. a job interview) results from events from our past; the goal is to understand that behavior to move forward in your career decisions)

Krumboltz’s Model
: is about planned happenstance, which makes it okay to not always plan because unplanned events could lead to good careers. He uses the DECIDES model as a decision-making process with seven steps:

  1. Define the problem

  2. Establish an action plan

  3. Clarify values

  4. Identify alternatives

  5. Discover probably outcomes

  6. Eliminate alternatives systematically

  7. Start action

READ: Krumboltz’s Theory

Career Anchors Theory (Edgar Schein, 1961)
: A career anchor is one’s self-concept about one’s talents and abilities, basic values, motives, and needs as they relate to your own career; this theory was developed to determine how careers in management advanced and how well individuals fared with their employers (12 year study; n=200); self-awareness and personal insight contributes to your career choices; The basic drivers of these career decisions are we related to these tenants: talents, motives, values -- into these eight career anchors:

  1. Technical/functional competence 

  2. General managerial competence 

  3. Autonomy/independence 

  4. Security/stability

  5. Entrepreneurial capability

  6. Service/dedication to a cause

  7. Pure challenge 

  8. Lifestyle 

READ MORE: What are the Career Anchors?

Issues Associated with Career Planning Theories

There are a few common issues that challenge career planning for talent development in organizations to ensure companies their financial return-on-investment (ROI) -- this includes balancing the needs of the organization goals and professional objectives, such as:

I. Organizational Need & Human Capital: describes the collective knowledge, skills, competencies, and values of the people in an organization; investment in employee development hopefully contributes to the company’s bottom-line/goals; More of this is discussed in AOE #5: Evaluating Learning Impact; Section 5.1.7. The Phillips ROI Methodology

II. Approaches to Work & Different Generations: In the US and Canada we have five generations working side by side these days in our organizations. Globally, there are currently 4 working generations:

  1. Baby Boomers: 1946–1964

  2. Generation X: 1965–1980

  3. Millennials: 1981-1996

  4. Generation Z: After 1996

For career development in the generations their might be different approaches, For example, the value of mentoring programs will be critical to support learning.This can be traditional mentoring (senior professional mentoring a junior professional) or peer mentoring on learning a new skill, adjusting to new technologies, institutional knowledge, applied experience, etc. 

READ: Generations-Demographic Trends in Population & Workforce: Quick Take

    BONUS READ: Which generation speaks to you?

III. Multicultural Influences: most organizations bring a rich diversity of multicultural and cultural issues that cannot be ignored when it comes to career development. There may be differences in customs, practices, or expectations depending on where and who you are working with.

BONUS READ: Multicultural Career Assessment Models e.g. Healy’s Career Appraisal Model

Development Approaches for Key Roles and Jobs (Actions: Values)

  • Action learning 

  • Academic assignments

  • Advanced degree education

  • Assessment centers

  • Coaching

  • Committee and task force involvement

  • Cross-functional job rotations

  • Instructing others

  • Job shadowing

  • Loaned executive program

  • Management training courses

  • Mentoring

  • Professional associations

  • Sabbaticals

Are you studying for the CPLP now? Let me know and let's connect:
Podcast web space:
Twitter: @laurapasquini









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7.3. Career Development Theories & Approaches

7.3. Career Development Theories & Approaches

Laura Pasquini