How to make a career

WHAT IS CAREER DEVELOPMENT

We define career development as the “outcomes of actions on career plans as viewed from both individual and organizational perspectives”. Breaking that down, career development is viewed from two points of view: the employer (the organization) and the employee (the individual).

The organization’s objective is to maximize the productivity of its human resources to achieve its goals, and career development aids in that outlook by ensuring the “best match between people and jobs”. The organization will place importance on how its employees are managing their respective careers and will take steps that provide structure to the employees’ progress on their chosen career paths.

From the point of view of the employee, career development is very important, since it serves as a useful tool or even a launching pad for them to obtain their objectives, which could be anything from getting higher pay or receiving incentives and bonuses, to achieving job flexibility and satisfaction.

Another definition attached more personal meaning to it, referring to career development as an entire process spanning over an individual’s lifetime that inevitably molds his work identity. It is a lifelong process, starting as early as that point in their childhood when, for example, a child saw a firefighter save someone from a burning building and, in complete awe, declares, “I want to be a firefighter when I grow up”.

The definition provided by Angelo J. Rivera ran along the same vein but breaking it down further. He described career development as the evolution or development of a career, informed by the following:

  1. Experience within a specific field of interest
  2. Success at each stage of development
  3. Educational attainment commensurate with each increment stage
  4. Communications (the capacity to analytically reflect one’s suitability for a job through the cover letter, resume, and/or the interview process)
  5. Understanding of career development as a navigable process.

All that being said, career development can be described simply as the ongoing or continuous process of managing one’s life, learning, and work (as a whole, not just work within an organization) in order to advance forward, toward the desired future.

The Five Stages of Career Development

Super’s Career Development Theory posits that there are five life stages in career development. He specified a duration or age bracket for each stage, but these are not fixed, at least not in the sense that people within that age group are undergoing only the corresponding stage.

The biological age of the person does not necessarily have to correspond to the development stage. Individuals may be experiencing (and re-experiencing) some stages even when they do not belong in the specified age range.

For example, career transitions may cause a 35-year-old to go back to the Exploration Stage. Someone who grew up too quickly and started working at a young age — putting himself through school and university — may already reach the Establishment stage when he is still 22 years old.

Now let us take a look the 5 career stages and the corresponding developmental tasks in each stage.

Stage 1: GROWTH

Coverage: 0 to 14 years old             

This is when the development of one’s self-concept begins. The child will start developing attitudes, recognizing his needs and preferences, and gain a general understanding of the world of work.

This is where the person starts learning how to relate to other people. Along with developing a realistic self-concept, or an identity that they deem to represent his true self, he will also be faced with his limitations and will start accepting them.

We have often heard it said that acknowledging your faults, flaws and limitations is a sign of growth. This stage in the theory reinforces that idea.

Stage 2: EXPLORATION

Coverage: 15 to 24 years old           

The first steps are taken towards career development. The teenager or young adult finds his hobbies and interests. He starts to approach skills acquisition activities tentatively, trying out classes and coursework. This is also the point where he will be testing the waters and gain work experience.

He will take an active role in seeking and learning about opportunities. He is eager, although apprehensive. Later on, he may find the opportunity that appeals to him and will grab it with both hands. This also involves the search and identification of new tasks to work on once they are done with what a previous task.

Stage 3: ESTABLISHMENT

Coverage: 25 to 44 years old           

Things start to get more serious, and so is the individual. He will be more determined and focused on honing his work chops, so to speak, and actively seek out entry-level skill-building opportunities. He will also be looking for more work experience, one that is stable and offers fewer uncertainties.

It is at this point that he makes a decision on which field or career path to take, and he will get started on it. Once he finds that position that he wants, and that matches him, he will settle into it. Along the way, he will actively pursue new learning and development of new skills, practically anything that will make him improve.

Stage 4: MAINTENANCE

Coverage: 45 to 64 years old

At this point, the main concern of the individual is to keep his position and improve it. Mostly, what he will be doing is to learn continuously and make adjustments whenever and wherever necessary.

At some point in one’s life, he may start questioning his past choices and decisions. Did he choose the right path? Is he following the career path that he really wants? In this stage, he will re-evaluate his occupational choices and perform verification and confirmation. If he realizes that it is not the right occupation for him, he may have to go back to the Exploration stage.

If, however, he ascertains that he is on the right track, he will make efforts to make his position even more secure. After all, as he goes up the career ladder, there will be more challenges and, along with them, more competition. He will have to take steps to ensure that he can hold his own against the competition and remain firmly in his spot.

During this time some people will live through a mid-life crisis. Here is how you get through it.

Stage 5: DECLINE

Coverage: 65 years old and above

The output is visibly reduced, and productivity is lower. At this point, the person is getting ready for retirement, and to completely leave the workplace.

He will most likely be decreasing his participation in activities that demand a lot of him. His focus will be on the essentials, or what he deems important, instead of the trivial matters such as competing for a position, accomplishing a task that he knows is beyond his stamina or capability. This stage will show some reduction in work hours, a clear sign that he is ready to throw in the towel in the near future.

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