Overview of Career Development Theories

Career Development is a “continuous lifelong process of developmental experiences that focuses on seeking, obtaining and processing information about self, occupational and educational alternatives, life styles and role options” (Hansen, 1976). Put another way, career development is the process through which people come to understand them as they relate to the world of work and their role in it. This career development process is where an individual fashions a work identity. In America, we are what we do, thus it becomes a person’s identity. It is imperative when educating our young people that our school systems assist and consider the significance of this responsibility for our youth and their future. The influences on and outcomes of career development are one aspect of socialization as part of a broader process of human development

Why Study Theory?

Theories and research describing career behavior provide the “conceptual glue” for as well as describe where, when and for what purpose career counseling, career education, career guidance and other career interventions should be implemented. The process of career development theory comes from four disciplines:  Differential Psychology- interested in work and occupations  Personality- view individuals as an organizer of their own experiences  Sociology- focus on occupational mobility  Developmental Psychology- concerned with the “life course” “Theory is a picture, an image, a description, a representation of reality. It is not reality itself. It is a way we can think about some part of reality so that we can comprehend it” (Krumboltz) Career Development Theories for the past 75 years fall into four categories: 1. Trait Factor – Matching personal traits to occupations-Frank Parson’s (1920’s) 2. Psychological – Personality types matching work environment- Holland (1980’s) 3. Decision – Situational or Sociological- Bandura ( Self Efficacy-1970’s) 4. Developmental – Self Concept over life span-Super (1950’s)

Holland Theory of Vocational Types

This approach gives explicit attention to behavioral style or personality types as the major influence in career choice development. This is described as structurally interactive. Common Themes:  Occupation choice is an expression of personality and not random  Members of an occupational group have similar personalities  People in each group will respond to situations an problems similarly  Occupational achievement, stability and satisfaction depends on congruence between one’s personality and job environment 6 Holland Types Realistic – work with hands, machines, tools, active, practical, adventurous High traits – practical, masculine, stable Low traits – sensitive, feminine, stable Occupations – construction, farming, architecture, truck driving, mail carrier Investigative – thought, analytical approaches, explore, knowledge, ideas, not social High traits – scholarly, intellectual, critical Low traits – powerful, ambitious, adventurous Occupations – biologist, chemist, dentist, veterinarian, programmer Artistic – literary, musical, artistic activities, emotional, creative, open High traits – expressive, creative, spontaneous Low traits – orderly, efficient, conventional, social, masculine Occupations – artist, musician, poet, interior designer, writer Social – train, inform, educate, help, supportive, avoid technical skills, empathy, relationships High traits – cooperative, friendly, humanistic Low traits – ambitious, creative, strong, Occupations – social work, counseling, police officer, LPN Enterprising – verbally skilled, persuasive, direct, leader, dominant High traits – ambitious, adventurous, energetic Low traits – intellectual, creative, feminine Occupations – lawyer, business executive, politician, TV producer Conventional – rules and routines, provide order or direct structure, great self control, respect power and status, punctual, orderly High traits – stable, efficient, dependable, controlled Low traits – intellectual, adventurous, creative Occupations – bank teller, clerk typist, cashier, data entry 3 Terms: Differentiation – the amount of spread between one’s first and second code letters; denotes how clear one’s type is. Incongruence – lack of fit between one’s type and work environment. People leave jobs because of too much incongruence or because of a chance to increase their congruence. Best decision makers are I’s; worst are C’s. Consistency – closeness on the hexagon of one’s first and second choices. The higher one’s consistency, the more integrated one’s characteristics (values, interests, traits) and the greater one’s vocational maturity, persistence and achievement.

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