Career Development

Career Development Process

Career development is a lifelong process involving psy­chological, educational, economic, sociological, and physical factors, as well as chance factors, that interact to influence the career of an individual. Cultural influ­ences have not been adequately considered in theories of career development. However, research suggests that there are important factors among cultural groups in areas such as work values and career decision-making attitudes (Leong, 1995). Therefore, cultural factors should be included in the list of influences upon the career development of individuals.

Career DevelopmentDespite the importance and apparent complexity of the career development process, the latest survey by the National Career Development Association (NCDA; Hoyt & Lester, 1995) revealed that only about one third of the adults in the United States were in their current jobs as a result of conscious planning. Thus the ma­jority of adults entered their jobs because of chance circumstances. In addition, 28% of those surveyed in­dicated that they would change their jobs within 3 years. Assisting an individual through the career de­velopment process is a primary task of a vocational psychologist.

There are a great number of techniques and inter­ventions a vocational psychologist may use to facilitate an individual’s career development. These techniques and interventions include individual and group career counseling, workshops, mentoring, testing (e.g., ability, interests, needs), job shadowing (i.e., following a worker in a desired job around for a day), interviews with var­ious people (e.g., employers, workers, college admis­sions personnel), apprenticeships, internships, school-to-work transition services, and use of career resources. One major career resources is the Dictionary of Occu­pational Titles (U.S. Department of Labor, 1991), which defines and classifies occupations and the characteris­tics of workers in each occupation. Typically, there are three major outcomes for these interventions; the mak­ing of a career choice; the acquisition of decision skills; and/or enhanced general adjustments to the work sit­uation, such as job satisfaction and success. The use of a theory of career development serves as a guide for the psychologist in the selection of assessment tools and techniques. Psychologists have developed several useful theories of career development.

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