Career Management

Career is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a person’s “course or progress through life (or a distinct portion of life)”. In this definition career is understood to relate to a range of aspects of an individual’s life, learning and work. Career is also frequently understood to relate only to the working aspects of an individuals life e.g. as in career woman. A third way in which the term career is used to describe an occupation or a profession that usually involves special training or formal education, and is considered to be a person’s lifework. In this case “a career” is seen as a sequence of related jobs usually pursued within a single industry or sector e.g. “a career in law” or “a career in the building trade”.

The etymology of the term comes from the m. French word carriere (16 c.) (“road, racecourse”) which, in turn, comes from the Latin word “(via) cararia” (track for wheeled vehicles) which originated from the Latin word carrus” which means “wagon”.

Career management

Career management describes the active and purposeful management of a career by an individual. Ideas of what comprise “career management skills” are describe by the Blueprint model (in the United States, Canada, Australia, Scotland, and England and the Seven C’s of Digital Career Literacy (specifically relating to the Internet skills). Key skills include the ability to reflect on one’s current career, research the labor market, determine whether education is necessary, find openings, and make career changes.

Career choice

According to Behling and others, an individual’s decision to join a firm may depend on any of the three factors viz. objective factor, subjective factor and critical contact.

Objective factor theory assumes that the applicants are rational. The choice, therefore, is exercised after an objective assessment of the tangible benefits of the job. Factors may include the salary, other benefits, location, opportunities for career advancement, etc.

Subjective factor theory suggests that decision making is dominated by social and psychological factors. The status of the job, reputation of the organization and other similar factors plays an important role.

Critical contact theory advances the idea that a candidate’s observations while interacting with the organization plays a vital role in decision making. For example, how the recruiter keeps in touch with the candidate, the promptness of response and similar factors are important. This theory is more valid with experienced professionals. These theories assume that candidates have a free choice of employers and careers. In reality the scarcity of jobs and strong competition for desirable jobs severely skews the decision making process. In many markets employees work particular careers simply because they were forced to accept whatever work was available to them.

Career (occupation) changing

Changing occupation is an important aspect of career and career management. Over a lifetime, both the individual and the labour market will change; it is to be expected that many people will change occupations during their lives. Data collected by the U.S. Bureaur of Labor Statistics through the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth in 1979 showed that individuals between the ages of 18 and 38 will hold more than 10 jobs. A survey conducted by Right Management suggests the following reasons for career changing.

  • The downsizing or the restructuring of an organization (54%).
  • New challenges or opportunities that arise (30%).
  • Poor or ineffective leadership (25%).
  • Having a poor relationship with a manager(s) (22%).
  • For the improvement of work/life balance (21%).
  • Contributions are not being recognized (21%).
  • For better compensation and benefits (18%),
  • For better alignment with personal and organizational values (17%).
  • Personal strengths and capabilities are not a good fit with an organization (16%).
  • The financial instability of an organization (13%).
  • An organization relocated (12%).

According to an article on Time.com, one out of three people currently employed (as of 2008) spends about an hour per day searching for another position.

Provision of career support

Career support is offered by a range of different mechanisms. Much career support is informal and provided through personal networks or existing relationships such as management. There is a market for private career support however the bulk of career support that exists as a professionalised activity is provided by the public sector.