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Discuss Two Career Theories with Reference to Both Research and Your Own Experience

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    Existing career theories do not account for modern career path. Discuss two career theories with reference to both research and your own experience. This article aims to touch the broad, and ever developing discussion of post modern theories and their application today. The main focus will fall on Holland’s theory of vocational personalities in work environment and the Edgar Scheine’s notion of career anchors and how both theories fit within the modern career paths. Holland has proposed six different vocational personality types. Any person resembles each of the six types to varying degree.

    HIs theory of occupational choice maintains that in choosing a career, people prefer jobs where they can be around others who are like them. They search for environment that will let them use their skills and abilities and express their attitudes and values, while taking on enjoyable problems and roles. Behaviour is determined by an interaction between personality and environment. The occupation of a certain individual is based solely on the work environment and their personality type. Holland has developed easy to use self assessment devise where people can check which occupation they appear to be best suited to.

    On the other hand Scheine describes his theory of career anchor as an aspect of self concept that one would not give up, even forced to make a different choice. (Arnold 1997) Schein (1990) argued that people enter work with particular career anchors summarizing their hopes and expectations, occupational interests, values and skills, which constrain their career decisions Five career anchors were proposed from Schein. (Millward 2005) To be able to evaluate both theories above with reference to the current modern career paths it is necessary to outline how our lives and effectively our careers have changed during the past century.

    Back in the 20th century the most important factors affecting the labour force were, the children’s welfare, the laws of labour,the population shift from rural to urban and how to prepare the young generation for labour force participation. The social and economic situation boosted the evolution of vocational psychology. In fact the theory of the vocational psychology was successfully applied in practice as scholars and practitioners brought out the real concerns of youngsters entering the workforce, returning veterans or unemployed people during economic depression. Swanson,2000) Later during the century there used to be a secure employment and stable organisations offering a solid ground for building a life and creating a future. (Savickas,2009) In contrast the new millennium presented the humanity with some extreme challenges. Today what makes the headlines in the news is what everyone calls the economic downturn and all the effects that came with it. The nature of the work force is changing. The time of the “dejobbing” and “insecure workers” is fact. (Savickas, 2009) A major issue becomes the change of the traditional forms of career and their replacement with new more flexible substitutes.

    Globalisation, outsourcing,downsizing,shift from permanent employment to part time employment,technological development, increasing diversity in terms of race,sex and part time versus full time jobs. People find it difficult to adjust their skills as fast as the career climate is changing. The new job market in this hectic economy requires that we no longer work for one company for many years developing career, but as an individual selling services and skills to a series of employers. (Savickas,2009) All those changes are affecting the work world of 21st century by creating the feelings of anxiety and insecurity among individuals.

    Careers are becoming less predictable. One could hear often words as ” You are good enough to become a partner or a managing director ” the problem is you have to find how to get there by your own. Companies are no longer willing to invest in training as they could easily hire someone that already developed the required skills. The modern businesses are hiring people who could prove that they can bring a certain amount of profit to the business, they no longer care how professional and qualified a certain individual is. What is outlined above shows how far we went apart from the understanding of traditional careers.

    All those factors are making it harder for the traditional theories to find an accurate application today. As already mentioned existing career theories dealing with vocational personality and environment Holland (1976) and Scheine’s anchors (1978) have been well respected and very adequate for many years. Those theories were helping many people to form and succeed in their career paths. What Holland suggests in his theory is that persons and environments can be framed within six types (realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising and conventional).

    Individuals are searching for a certain environments that will allow them to implement the characteristics of their work personality and their behaviour is determined by an interaction between personality and environment. The occupation of a certain individual is based solely on the work environment and their personality type. (Swanson,2000) Holland theory is a perfect tool for young individuals to get information and orientation in the work world in a very interesting and engaging way. Also describes and gives knowledge of the different work environments. However Holland theory seems to demonstrate a few limitations.

    The theory fails to capture some individual differences that might be important for some people vocational choices. Another interesting observation is that according to Holland, people practicing the same job should have very same personalities. Also people are limited to choose their occupation based only on their personality type. Unfortunately we are not living in a perfect world and as much everyone would love to do what is in harmony with their personality and environment, there are some external factors affecting our choices of career. Factors like salary and job availability are leading.

    Personality can not be considered as the only factor in determining what job an individual decides to choose. It is completely true that people poses dominant personality traits that might vary from their friends and colegues , here comes the question what if we end up with more than one dominant trait? A person could easily be somewhere in between all six types which does not helps much with their career choice. Let us take two completely different people that happen to have the same traits, the logic of the theory leads to the conclusion that they must have the same careers.

    Practically this is not true and it could be proven easily. How about our personality, is this something we could measure or define? Every person is different and even if we have similar personality our reactions defer. It is a core part of Holland theory, but it could be argued that personality could be measured that easily. People are extremely flexible and unpredictable. We change our behavior depending on what situation we are put in. Crucial for the current hectic life for each individual is to be very adaptable act and react adequately in different situations.

    The concept of career anchor developed by Schine becomes applicable in modern career paths. More and more people are out of jobs today and have to figure out what their next step in life will be. Schein’s (1978) theory is popular by outlining one of the best well known analysis of the organizational career as movement within an organization. (Millward 2005) According to Schein’s culture exists on three levels ; Assumptions, Values and Artifacts. Assumptions represent beliefs about reality and human nature.

    Values represent the social principles and standards considered to have intrinsic value. The Artifacts includes everything that we can see, touch and hear as a result of activity grounded in values and assumptions. (Hatch 1993) Schein proposed five career anchors in mid 1970s including technical competence, managerial competence, security and stability, creativity and independence , later he added three more including service or dedication to a cause, pure challenge and life style. What is a career anchor?

    According to Shein (1996) ,career anchor is self concept consisting self-perceived talents and abilities, basic values and most important the evolved sense of motivation and needs as they pertain to the career, However Scheins emphasizes on the fact that one needs to gain enough occupational and life experience to evolve their anchor. Most of us are not aware of our career anchors until we are not put in a position to make crusial choices. It is important to be aware of our anchors,so we can use them in our favour and choose wisely. Shein main focus is on how individual will develop and what the lifestyle preferences are.

    Very good example of Scheins theory would be individuals that are moving often jobs because they could not compromise on their anchor. One negative aspect within this theory could be that because of the strong self believes and our anchors we could not progress; we could easily pot boundaries and limit our options for career development. For example if a female is offered or is considering to pursue a career that has been anticipated as male only career , she might never even try to get to that profession. “The glass ceiling” in the case of female professionals and executives.

    References:

    Arnold, J. (1997). Managing Careers into the 21st Century. London: PCP

    Arnold, J. (2005). Silvester, J.Patterson, F. Robertson, I. Cooper, C. & Burners, B. Work Psychology 4th Edition. London, Prentice Hill

    Duffy, Ryan D., Dik, Bryan J.(2009), Beyond the Self : External influences in the Career Development Process, Career Development Quarterly, v58 n1 p29-43 Available at:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1002/j.2161-0045.2009.tb00171.x/asset/j.2161-0045.2009.tb00171.x.pdf?v=1&t=h8k71ra6&s=63bac9314c7e3c376d82d0eb24311a02c9e0ba29

    Millward, L. (2005). Understanding Occupational & Organisational Psychology. London, SAGE Publications Ltd.

    Advances in vocational psychology theory and research.
    Swanson, Jane L.; Gore, Paul A. Brown, Steven D. (Ed); Lent, Robert W. (Ed), (2000). Handbook of counseling psychology (3rd ed.)., (pp. 233-269). Hoboken, NJ, US: John Wiley & Sons Inc, xiii, 865 pp.

    Savicks, M.L., et al. Life designing: A paradigm of career construction in the 21st century. Journal of Vocational Behavior (2009), doi: 10.1016/j.jvb.2009.04.004

    Hatch M. The Dynamics of Organisational Culturre The Academy of Management Review, Vol.18, No 4 (Oct., 1993), pp.657-693 Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/258594

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