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Career professionals need to consider how the online world affects clients in terms of their data, social equity, privacy and access

By Tom Staunton

The internet and its effects on society are rarely out of the news. From the impact it has on young people, to its place in fostering extremism, to how big tech firms do (or don’t) pay taxes, the internet is continuously the subject of debate. Despite such controversies, it is ingrained in our everyday lives. This means that, as careers practitioners, we can neither just get on with using the internet without asking any ethical questions, nor can we assume that the right thing to do is to retreat from technology. The world we live in means we have to use the internet, but as career practitioners, we still need to engage with associated ethical questions. This article will explore several ethical considerations related to the internet from a career guidance perspective.

vector illustration for personal identity recognition and access authentication
Interactional ethics

Medical ethics is governed by the principle of doing no harm or “nonmaleficence.” This means the first duty of someone working in medicine is to not harm anyone under their care. I think this is a helpful starting point for thinking about career guidance practice. Career guidance practitioners need to make sure that their use of the internet does no harm to their clients or any third parties.

The internet’s potential for harm is often connected to data. The same data that makes the internet’s existence possible also makes the individuals who use it vulnerable. Data that is created through Skype interviews, online forums, message boards, online courses and even email exchanges is often sensitive and can leave clients vulnerable to having their private information made public. These are vital ways individual practitioners and careers services should be thinking about data:

  • Security: Is the data the career professional/career service generates about clients/students kept secure?
  • Transparency: Do clients know what data is collected about them and how it will be used?
  • Platforms: Increasingly, the online world is mediated by platforms (eg, Facebook, Skype, Dropbox, etc.), so career professionals need to know and communicate to clients how these platforms may make use of data.
Equity ethics

Career professionals also need to be concerned with how the online world affects our clients in terms of social equity. While the internet may appear free and easy, career professionals need to think more critically about whom it includes and excludes, and how they can help individuals make use of it.

Firstly, we should be cautious about lauding the benefits of technology to people who might be excluded from it. People who are economically disadvantaged may be able to afford less technology, both in the form of hardware and in the form of data and internet access. Similarly, some people with disabilities may find it harder to access the internet without assistive technology. Talking about the internet as essential to a career may end up excluding these populations. This observation might also encourage career professionals to consider advocating for increased technological access for clients with whom they work.

“Career guidance practitioners need to make sure that their use of the internet does no harm to their clients or any third parties.”

Secondly, we need to remember what the internet costs people. Though online tools may often be free (which is a significant part of their attraction), at point of access they often require individuals to subject themselves to surveillance. This is worth reflecting on, partly because we increasingly live in a society where individuals’ data is the means by which companies make profit. Career professionals might find that their actions do more to facilitate private profit than benefit their clients. This is not a straightforward issue but it’s helpful to recognize some of the ethical complexities that are at stake.

More significantly, career professionals need to think about the consequences of surveillance for their clients. Platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook can be used by recruiters to screen candidates. This can lead to individuals being assessed based on their beliefs, their politics, their social life or even aspects of their identity such as their gender, age or ethnicity. Importantly, digital technology enables this discrimination. Though this discrimination is not created by technology, it can make it harder to combat and counter.

Radical ethics

Radical career guidance looks at how careers practice can engage with transforming and changing society. This argues that ethics does not just involve avoiding negative actions, but includes proactive positive actions to make the world more ethical. We can see the influence of the internet as a place to engage with social change in examples from outside of the world of career guidance, such as the Arab Spring or the #MeToo movements.

The internet can allow individuals to develop relationships and access information that they would not have had access to before. People are often bound by their family backgrounds and their locations when it comes to accessing career-related support and information. The internet has the potential to transform what individuals can access and make use of for their careers. Career practitioners can pursue ethical agendas by helping clients make use of the internet to overcome disadvantages they might face.

From a more radical point of view, the internet can also create spaces where careers work can engage with issues that might improve individuals’ working lives, such as highlighting poor conditions, unethical working practices or discriminatory recruitment policies. The internet can spread stories and allow people with shared interests to network and organize around issues. Career practitioners should think through how they can develop skills to support these sorts of activities or equip their clients to do the same.

In conclusion, these three positions create different but overlapping starting points for individuals approaching how the internet and ethics interact within career development.

Tom Staunton is a Lecturer in Career Development with the International Centre for Guidance Studies based at the University of Derby. His main teaching and research interests are career guidance theory, technology and career guidance, use of LMI and social justice. 

Neuroscience: Techniques to Help People Learn More Effectively

This article by Professor Patricia Riddell Consultant Neuroscientist may be of help to you if you have concerns about entering a learning environment.   

By understanding more about how the brain works, we can create the optimal conditions for learning – and ensure we retain what we’ve learned more effectively. Discover here why we are ‘BLESSED’ in our ability to learn (and some tips that come with the acronym!)

As someone that has the privilege of spending my days reading the latest neuroscience and then working out how to apply these to real life situations, I have been lucky to have developed techniques that help me learn effectively.  

Many of the strategies that I use to learn have come directly from my reading, and so I would like to share some of these here.

The first thing that I’ve found really helpful is the knowledge that my brain is a learning machine that has evolved to acquire and store new information that might be useful to me.

Believe you can learn

Research has demonstrated that we store new knowledge and skills in networks of cells (neurons) in the brain.

It is not just the individual neurons that are important to learning but also the connections between them. Each of the billion neurons in your brain can make connections with as many as several thousand other neurons. Importantly, these connections are not fixed.  As many as one in ten of these are lost and replaced on a daily basis.

This means that, each day, our brains have the capacity to partially rewire our neural networks in order to store new information. If you always do what you have always done, the network will remain the same and the capacity to learn will be wasted.

Since I believe I can learn, I think about what I will learn each day in order to use the capacity of my amazing brain for learning.

Learning systems

The second trick I bring to my learning is knowing that there are many systems in the brain for learning, and so I don’t always have to learn the same way.

Knowing that there are many learning systems makes it more interesting, since I can vary how I learn. This also allows me to celebrate confusion, since this is the first step in understanding. Before confusion, there is only ignorance.

StateNeural systemFunctionHow to?
CuriosityReward systemReward in anticipation of knowing moreAsk questions, take tests
CelebrationArousal systemIncreases motivation to learnFind ways to celebrate new learning
ConfusionStress systemIndicates confusion and need to learnTake time to pinpoint areas of confusion then ask
ConfidenceSense of selfIncreases self-esteem so willingness to try harderTeach someone else and notice your understanding 
CalmReflective systemReflecting on learning makes it stickierSit quietly away from books and reflect on new learning

Emotional intensity

The area of the brain that stores the addresses of our memories (the hippocampus) is closely linked to an area of the brain that is important in remembering our emotional states (the amygdala).

We remember events that had high emotional intensity (both positive and negative) because these are important to learning what to do in the future.

We repeat the events that were intensely positive and avoid the events that were negative.

I use this by adding humour, disgust, surprise or other emotions to my learning, so that it becomes more sticky.

Space your learning

If an event is not emotionally intense, we remember it better if it is repeated.  

There is, however, a right and a wrong time to repeat learning – we have to space our learning.

If we wait to repeat the learning at a time when it is almost forgotten, we basically have to learn everything again from scratch. If, however, we revise the learning before it is forgotten, we can increase the strength of the learning.  

Learning a little and often is better than learning a lot then forgetting it all. To make use of this, I look over notes for a new course well before I forget the content.

The self-referential effect

If you reflect on what you remember easily, you might find that these are often events from your own life, or facts about you.  

The ease at which we remember information about ourselves is called the self-referential effect.  

I tap into this memory aid by making learning personal to me. What does this mean for me or someone I am close to?


So far, these tips are about how to code memory well, but we also need to be able to retrieve our memories.

I know that the more senses I use when I am coding, the more likely it is that I will see, hear, feel something that reminds me of the learning and so helps me to retrieve the information.  

Encoding our memories well makes them easier to recall.

Deep processing

I have often watched people ‘studying’ by highlighting parts of a passage that they think might be important to learn.  

This is not a great way to learn since it does not provide a reason for remembering.  

Instead, when I want to learn something, I start with a question – what might be useful about knowing this? How might I want to use this learning in the future? What, precisely, do I want to know?

By reading with a question in mind, it is easier to process the information in a way that will make it more memorable. This is a form of deep processing.

To summarise my tips for learning, I learn better when I use my:

  • Belief that I can learn
  • Learning systems
  • Emotional intensity
  • Spaced learning
  • Self-referential effect
  • Encode with many senses
  • Deep processing

Through this, I am ‘blessed’ with the ability to learn (oh – and the odd acronym helps my memory too).

New Essential Digital Skills: Booking Now Open for Free CPD Events

Booking has opened for the Education and Training Foundation’s (ETF) free face-to-face training and online workshops to support staff involved in delivering courses for the upcoming Essential Digital Skills entitlement.

The Education And Training Foundation

As from September 2020, adults aged 19 and over with no or low digital skills will be entitled to free training to develop their digital skills, in line with existing maths and English entitlements. Demand for courses is anticipated to be high and there is interest in delivery from all parts of the Further Education (FE) and Training sector.

According to the Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Digital Index 2019, more than half of working-age adults in the UK – 17.3 million people in total – do not have the essential digital skills they need for work.

In addition, the survey found that 11.9 million people lack the digital skills they need for everyday life in the connected world in which we now live.

In response, the Department for Education (DfE) introduced new national standards in April 2019, replacing the basic ICT standards published in 2006. The new standards cover five areas reflecting the way in which we now live online:

  • Using devices and handling information – using devices, finding and evaluating information, managing and storing information, identifying and solving technical problems
  • Creating and editing – creating and editing documents and digital media, processing numerical data
  • Communicating – communicating, sharing and managing traceable online activities
  • Transacting – using online services, buying securely online
  • Being safe and responsible online – protecting privacy and data, being responsible online, digital wellbeing.

The Essential Digital Skills training events and webinars are part of a broader CPD package commissioned by DfE from the ETF to support the FE sector in delivering the new entitlement, which also includes:

  • An interactive self-assessment tool
  • A series of 20 short online learning modules
  • Development of a community of practice to offer peer-to-peer support
  • A multimedia toolkit to provide guidance on the CPD package.

The self-assessment toolkit, the online learning modules and the community of practice will be hosted on the ETF’s Enhance Digital Teaching Platform, which has already proved a popular resource for teachers and trainers seeking to develop their digital skills. The CPD package will be free to all staff.

The face-to-face training workshops will take place in Bristol, Leeds and London, starting on 29 January. Webinars are also being provided for those who cannot attend face-to-face training. It is anticipated that the programme will be particularly helpful for those teachers and trainers who are not ICT specialists but rather will deliver digital skills training as part of another learning programme such as ESOL or Preparation for Life and Work. The aim of the training is to build confidence and share practice related to different teaching contexts.

Spotlight on Super’s Self-Concept Theory

Applying Super’s theory of self-concept can help your clients at different stages of their career development.

Self-concept is the core of Super’s theory

Illustration showing people of different ages standing next to each other from youngest to oldest

The second career theory we’ll shine our spotlight on is Donald Super’s theory of how self-concept relates to career development. Our self-concept is created by our life and work experiences, abilities and personality.

Super thought who we are changes throughout life and this influences our long-term career decisions.

He also created the concept of career development stages. He first saw them as five stages of the lifecycle. But later they were used to understand a person’s experience at any stage of their career. 

Super’s five life stages:

  1. Growth (birth to age 14): You develop a self-concept, become aware of your future goals, or think about changing your career.
  2. Exploration (ages 15 to 24): You find the right career through courses, work experience and hobbies. You may develop and plan a career goal and complete relevant training.
  3. Establishment (ages 25 to 44): You secure a job in your chosen field and develop skills, build relationships with co-workers, and look for chances to advance your career.
  4. Maintenance (ages 45 to 64): You adjust and update your skills.
  5. Decline (ages 65 and up): You may start planning retirement, or you may be losing energy or interest in a job and getting ready to change your career.

Use Super’s theory to help clients at all stages of their careers

Clients starting a career

You can help clients who are uncertain about their first role or want to return to work by:

  • encouraging them to be curious and explore different hobbies and work experience 
  • helping them find information about areas of work they’re interested in 
  • getting them to look at training options, including bridging, free or short courses
  • supporting them with their decision making 
  • building their confidence for interviews, for example, by showing them informational interviewing skills
  • emphasising how personal skills are useful on their CV
  • showing them opportunities to learn from role models, for example, through job shadowing.

Clients who need a new challenge

Encourage clients who feel stuck in their job to have a career discussion with their manager. Suggest they:

  • explore options in their current workplace, such as moving into another area within the organisation
  • find ways to update or broaden their skills.

Clients who want to change careers

For some clients, their self-concept may have changed to the point where they no longer feel connected to their work. You can help these clients toward a change of career by:

  • helping them understand that career change is a normal part of career development
  • explaining how they’re at the decline stage of Super’s cycle and returning to the beginning of the cycle
  • encouraging them to explore new career ideas, identify other interests, or take courses to develop new skills.

Download a copy of Super’s model (PDF – 256B) (Word – 251KB)

Developing Your Career Capital

By Tonya Holowitski, RPR, RPT, CMP, CRS, CCS, CISA Career Innovator & Designer for Alberta CPAs (Chartered Professional Accountants) and CPA Students

Tonya Holowitski, RPR, RPT, CMP, CRS, CCS, CIS
Tonya Holowitski

I recently had the opportunity to deliver two workshops on how to build your Career Capital using LinkedIn. They were both great sessions and I learned a lot both developing the content and delivering the content.

Career Capital is the value of competencies, knowledge and individual personality attributes you have to produce economic value. Career Capital is vitally important for an individual’s success in all stages of work and life. Career Capital can increase through education, experience and your ability to identify and convert into an opportunity. In the digital age, building your career capital requires a conscious effort to strategically evolve to act and influence as a valuable and respected resource.

Career Capital was a concept developed in 1994 by Organizational Psychologists DeFillipi and Athurs for organizations. As time has progressed it has been shaped and moulded in a manner that is meant to reflect the individual more so than an organization’s team development and succession planning. As time goes on the career landscape is changing and we are beginning to hear more about a “Gig Economy” and becoming a “Careerpreneur”. Other terms you may come across that apply to the Gig Economy are a Free Floating Professional, a Temporary Employee, a Contractor, Self-Employed,

A “gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements. The term “gig” is a slang word meaning “a job for a specified period of time” and is typically used in referring to musicians.

“Careerpreneur” is a term we use a lot in the Career Development world, particularly by my education body Career Professionals Canada. It means becoming an independent agent working towards our career success. Scripting our path versus waiting for someone to write it out for us. Keeping an eye out for emerging and growing opportunities. Proactively taking advantage of our career development initiatives.

Cal Newport the author of Seven Ways Successful People Approach Their Work and So Good They Can’t Ignore You has a phrase that resonates quite well and shifts us from the common perspective of pursuing your passion. He states “Adopt the craftsman mindset, not the passion mindset” His perspective is to look at work not from “What can the world offer me?” but ask “What can I offer the world?”. So it’s a little bit of the notion of Symbolic Capital (reputation/ prestige in a field). The Career Capital piece would be to then take key elements of your Symbolic Capital and being able to apply them in a different career capacity – could be role, client, or even organisation.

Career Capital is broken down into three fundamental concepts:

  1. Knowing Why: This is where you are examining internal and external factors that are driving your career or need for change. It could be related to changes in the market place, technology, demand, layoffs, boredom, corporate values and others.
  2. Knowing Whom: This is your network developed through work, volunteerism, your personal life whom all can help you move forward in your career or a transition. This consists of Mentors, Sponsors, Peers, Supervisors, Friends, Family, Community Connections, Virtual Connections (LinkedIn), Experts and Networking Connections. AKA Social Capital.
  3. Knowing How: This is what you have learned to do on the job, in your studies, from volunteerism, hobbies and other learning activities.

To become effective in developing your Career Capital, you need to explore your relationship with perceived internal and external marketability. It means being able to adapt, to continue to keep up to date on future job perspectives, knowledge and skills and asking others how they perceive you. Gone are the days where you get one degree and that is it, no further professional development required. Technology, economic market volatility, social trends, climate change, political change and other requires each of us to be prepared for rapid change in requirements in the workplace.

It also means saving your money for the future. There may be times you find yourself unemployed but there also may be times where if you haven’t been continually investing in skills development that you find yourself reinventing yourself which may mean a temporary pay decrease. However, if you are continually investing in your career capital you should be seeing an increase in your economic capital.

So what are the key elements and attitudes you want to focus on to increase your Career Capital? Consider the following:

  1. Develop Movement Capital (encompasses the individual skills, knowledge, competencies, and attitudes influencing an individual’s career mobility opportunities, which in turn influences their likelihood of career success – Forrier Sels & Stynen, 2009).
  2. Adaptability (Allows people to evolve and enables and motivates them to adapt their human capital, social capital and career identity to new circumstances – Forrier et al., 2009)
  3. Networking: Events, virtual, within an organisation, in your community, with your friends and family.
  4. Continuous Learning: On the job, through classes formal and informal, from a mentor and your peers.
  5. Market Research and Market Awareness: Continually pay attention to the news. Everythings applies – Global Trade & Politics, National Trade, Economy and Politics, Stock Markets, Science, Innovation and Technology, Mergers and Acquisitions, Provincial Policy changes, Municipal affairs, Climate events (fires, hurricanes, tornados anything that can cause a city to stop) and more.
  6. Attitude: Self-motivation, determination, perseverance, flexibility, emotional intelligence, industry acumen, patience, commit to change, and have a willingness to learn.
  7. Reputation: Be known for follow-through and your ability to deliver, take a chance and write a blog, be a guest speaker, train others, become a mentor, become a subject matter expert, think credibility.
  8. Multi-Disciplinary Exposure: Develop breadth and depth of expanding your competencies.
  9. Multi-Industry Exposure
  10. Build your Brand

So there you have it Career Capital, it’s a thing. BTW did you ever guess there could be so many different forms of Capital in your life?

About the Author: Tonya Holowitski is a professional Career Advisor and previously was a Recruiter both in-house and external search. She holds a number of certifications and designations through the Career Professionals of Canada and the Institute of Professional Management.

The Career Lounge: A New Peer-Education Model?

In the following paper, Nicole Joron, the Career Educator and Peer Co-ordinator at York University introduces ‘The Career Lounge’.

I had the pleasure of joining York University’s Career Centre last summer with the exciting task of developing and launching a new career peer-education program.

The program is part of   a collaborative well-being strategy of peer-led stress-buffering programming across Health Education, Learning Skills, Student Financial Services and the Career Centre. The founding principles of the program were well-being, career self-management, peer education and universal design. After exploring a literature review and environmental scan of existing peer models alongside the needs of the department, we embarked on a mission to create our Career Lounge.

The Career Lounge Model
Circular diagram representing the five steps of career lounge model: invite, listen, connect, explore and own
(Courtesy of York University)

Adapted from The Studio Method at the University of Nevada, the Career Lounge Model has five components: invite, listen, connect, explore and own. Peers use a coaching approach to implement the model and support students and new grads in developing career self-management skills and confidence. “My role involved guiding students through their career questions and empowering them with the resources to navigate their career journeys,” said Zarlasht Jamal, Career Peer Educator and third-year Global Health student.

Career Peer Educators learn the model through a week-long training program with a combination of skill-building, career development content and experiential activities. Peers participate in weekly team meetings throughout the year where they engage in ongoing reflection, discussion and training.

  • Invite: Peers welcome students, explain how the Lounge works and invite them to participate, starting with a welcome form.
  • Listen: Peers use active-listening techniques to better understand the students’ needs and invite them to set a goal for the session. Peers are encouraged to ask at least three open-ended questions before starting to make connections as the students’ career question may evolve as they share their story.
  • Connect: Peers connect students to relevant resources that they can use to build their skills, knowledge and confidence in exploring their career question. Connections are also facilitated between people: peer to peer, peer to student and amongst students.
  • Explore: Students explore resources independently, with a peer and/or with other students visiting the Lounge (or a combination thereof). Students exploring similar resources are invited to sit near each other to facilitate co-exploring and making connections. While students are working, peers shares updates so that all peers working that shift know each student by name and what they are working on.
  • Own: Peers use coaching conversations to facilitate self-ownership of career decisions throughout the connect and explore stages. As students prepare to leave, peers thank them for spending time with us and invite students to identify one next step they will own for their career journey, to complete a feedback form and to return.
York University Career Lounge. (Courtesy of York University)
Setting up the Career Lounge

To facilitate the Career Lounge Model, the physical space of the Career Lounge includes multi-format resources (worksheets, books, posters, desktops, iPads), multi-format workspaces (computer stations, round tables, bean bag chairs, a desk), and accents to help create a welcoming environment (coat rack, lamps, plants, pillows, candy bowls). The Lounge atmosphere was created by moving around furniture in an existing front desk space and multi-purposing an advising station. Peers helped to design the Lounge and selected the finishing touches to create an inviting space.

Navigating the Career Lounge Model

What is most unique about the Career Lounge is that it is not a traditional one-on-one appointment, facilitated group session or workshop. It is a new format entirely that I have been calling a “flexible hybrid.”

The Career Lounge Model strives to remove as many barriers as possible; procedures are minimal, and students are involved in co-creating their experience. Visitors have options for how they would like to navigate their time in the Lounge and are invited to make the experience their own. They can choose their preferred type of seating, resource and work style. Furthermore, they can move between options within one visit.

For example, within one visit, a student utilizing the Lounge for resume help may:

  • Engage in a one-on-one conversation with a peer
  • Explore the resume poster hanging up in the space with another student visiting the Lounge
  • Work independently using a resume worksheet (paper or online)
  • Work with a partner in the Lounge to compare ideas
  • Practice accomplishment statements in a group discussion facilitated by peers
  • Work independently to apply what they learned to updating their resume

Throughout, peers rotate around the room to check on students, ask coaching questions, offer encouragement and resources, facilitate conversation amongst visitors and host closing conversations with students as they leave.

What to expect at the career lounge: students from all programs/years; drop by; work on your own or together; ask any career question; flexible workspace; meet other students; no time limit; Career peer educators on hand; leave with next steps
(Courtesy of York University)
Career Lounge pilot results (September 2018 – April 2019)
  • Visitors were a mix of undergraduates, graduate students, PhD candidates and recent graduates.
  • The number of visitors during a two-to-three-hour shift ranged from one to 18, with two Career Peer Educators.
  • 60% of survey respondents were first-time visitors to the Career Centre; they found out about the Lounge from our website or word of mouth (staff, faculty, friend).
  • While most visitors stayed for 15-30 minutes, visits ranged from five minutes to three hours
  • 90% of survey respondents found the Career Lounge staff and space welcoming, felt that they were referred to appropriate resources and would recommend a friend to visit.
  • Career Peer Educators reported building skills in coaching, assertiveness, reflection and career development.
Career Lounge challenges and benefits

The biggest challenge with the Career Lounge has been managing expectations and orienting visitors to the new Career Lounge Model. Peers also struggled at times to feel that they were providing enough support to each student without maintaining one-on-one contact. Secondly, the Career Lounge requires access to resources in the form of dedicated space, materials and staff (ideally two or more peers per shift).

The largest benefit of the Career Lounge was successfully reaching more students, and a new group of students who were not previously accessing the Career Centre. While many new services take time to grow, students were waiting for us to open on day one and keep coming back. The Career Lounge Model also advances just-in time, individualized service provision, shifts service delivery to peers as first point of contact and positively contributes to well-being outcomes.

Krumboltz’s Careers Theory

John Krumboltz’s planned happenstance theory makes it OK to not always plan, because unplanned events could lead to good careers.

John Krumboltz is an established career theorist. He most recently developed ideas about supporting indecision in clients. He states that indecision is desirable and sensible, as it allows the opportunity for clients to benefit from unplanned events. This theory is called planned happenstance. 

This emerging theory specifically addresses the need for people to deal with change within the rapidly changing labour market. Managing life transitions is seen as an essential career management skill. Krumboltz’s theory offers insight on how to deal with the limited degree of control we have over some career experiences.

At the core of this theory is the fact that unpredictable social factors, chance events and environmental factors are important influences on clients’ lives. As such, the counsellor’s role is to help clients approach chance conditions and events positively. In particular, counsellors foster in their clients:

  • curiosity to explore learning opportunities
  • persistence to deal with obstacles
  • flexibility to address a variety of circumstances and events
  • optimism to maximise benefits from unplanned events.

Krumboltz states that people with these qualities are more likely to capitalise on chance events and turn serendipity into opportunity.

Furthermore, several factors have been highlighted as being helpful in career management, including:

  • the commitment to ongoing learning and skill development
  • ongoing self-assessment
  • assessment and feedback from others
  • effective networking
  • achieving work-life balance
  • financial planning to incorporate periods of unemployment.

These attributes and tasks enable you to turn chance encounters and occurrences into career opportunities.


  • The Calgary Board of Education, (www.cbe.ab.ca/).
  • Toews, M, ‘Planned Happenstance – Krumboltz: An Emerging Theory’, accessed December 2008, (www.cbe.ab.ca).
  • The University of Hawai’i System, (www.hawaii.edu).
Parsons’ Careers Theory

Frank Parsons developed the idea of matching careers to talents, skills and personality.

People perform best when they are in jobs best suited to their abilities

Frank Parsons is regarded as the founder of the vocational guidance movement. He developed the talent-matching approach, which was later developed into the Trait and Factor Theory of Occupational Choice. At the centre of Parsons’ theory is the concept of matching. 

Parsons states that occupational decision making occurs when people have achieved:

  • an accurate understanding of their individual traits (aptitudes, interests, personal abilities)
  • a knowledge of jobs and the labour market
  • rational and objective judgement about the relationship between their individual traits, and the labour market.

This three-part theory still governs most current practice.

The trait and factor theory operates under the premise that it is possible to measure both individual talents and the attributes required in particular jobs. It also assumes that people may be matched to an occupation that’s a good fit. Parsons suggests that when individuals are in jobs best suited to their abilities they perform best and their productivity is highest.

In his book, ‘Choosing a Vocation’, Parsons maintains that personal counsel is fundamental to the career search. In particular, he notes seven stages for a career counsellor to work through with clients:

  1. Personal data: create a statement of key facts about the person, remembering to include every fact that has bearing on the vocational problem.
  2. Self-analysis: a self-examination is done in private and under the instruction of the counsellor. Every tendency and interest that might impact on the choice of a life work should be recorded.
  3. The client’s own choice and decision: this may show itself in the first two stages. The counsellor must bear in mind that the choice of vocation should be made by the client, with the counsellor acting as guide.
  4. Counsellor’s analysis: the counsellor tests the client’s decision to see if it is in line with the “main quest”.
  5. Outlook on the vocational field: the counsellor should be familiar with industrial knowledge such as lists and classifications of industries and vocations, in addition to locations of training and apprenticeships.
  6. Induction and advice: a broad-minded attitude coupled with logical and clear reasoning are critical at this stage.
  7. General helpfulness: the counsellor helps the client to fit into the chosen work, and to reflect on the decision.

Much of Parsons’ work still guides career counselling today, though it is not without criticism. Matching assumes a degree of stability within the labour market. However, the reality is that the market’s volatility means individuals must be prepared to change and adapt to their circumstances.


Bandura’s Careers Theory

Watching what others do and the human thought process influences the careers we choose in Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory.


Albert Bandura is well regarded for his Social Cognitive Theory. It is a learning theory based on the ideas that people learn by watching what others do, and that human thought processes are central to understanding personality. This theory provides a framework for understanding, predicting and changing human behaviour. 


You need to pay attention to learn something new. The more striking or different something is (due to colour or drama, for example) the more likely it is to gain our attention. Likewise, if we regard something as prestigious, attractive or like ourselves, we will take more notice. 


You must be able to retain (remember) what you have paid attention to. Imagery and language pay a role in retention: you store what you have seen the model doing in the form of verbal descriptions or mental images, and bring these triggers up later to help you reproduce the model with your own behaviour.


At this point you have to translate the images or descriptions into actual behaviour. You must have the ability to reproduce the behaviour in the first place. For instance, if you are watching Olympic ice skating you may not be able to reproduce their jumps if you can’t ice skate at all! Our abilities improve even when we just imagine ourselves performing.


Unless you are motivated, or have a reason, you will not try to imitate the model. Bandura states a number of motives, including:

  • past reinforcement
  • promised reinforcement
  • vicarious reinforcement.

Albert Bandura has had a large impact on personality theory and therapy. His action-oriented, problem-solving approach appeals to those who want to make changes, rather than simply philosophise.


  • Boeree, Dr George C, Shippensburg University, ‘Personality Theories: Albert Bandura’, accessed August 2015, (www.ship.edu).
  • York University, Canada, ‘Theories used in IS Research: Social Cognitive Theory’, accessed December 2008, (www.istheory.yorku.ca).
Holland’s Careers Theory

Careers are determined by an interaction between our personality and the environment in John Holland’s Theory of Career Choice. We want jobs with people like us.

John Holland’s Theory of Career Choice (RIASEC) maintains that in choosing a career, people prefer jobs where they can be around others who are like them. They search for environments 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. 

Holland’s theory is centred on the notion that most people fit into one of six personality types:

  • Realistic
  • Investigative
  • Artistic
  • Social
  • Enterprising
  • Conventional.


Description of interest areaSome key skillsSome occupations with Realistic componentsSubjects you could study to give you the skills
Likes to work mainly with hands, making, fixing, assembling or building things, using and operating equipment, tools or machines. Often likes to work outdoorsUsing and operating tools, equipment and machinery, designing, building, repairing, maintaining, working manually, measuring, working in detail, driving, moving, caring for animals, working with plantsPilot, farmer, horticulturalist, builder, engineer, armed services personnel, mechanic, upholsterer, electrician, computer technologist, park ranger, sportspersonEnglish, Maths, Science, Workshop, Technology, Computing, Business Studies, Agriculture, Horticulture, Physical Education


Description of interest areaSome key skillsSome occupations with Investigative componentsSubjects you could study to give you the skills
Likes to discover and research ideas, observe, investigate and experiment, ask questions and solve problemsThinking analytically and logically, computing, communicating by writing and speaking, designing, formulating, calculating, diagnosing, experimenting, investigatingScience, research, medical and health occupations, chemist, marine scientist, forestry technician, medical or agricultural laboratory technician, zoologist, dentist, doctorEnglish, Maths, Science, Computing, Technology


Description of interest areaSome key skillsSome occupations with Artistic componentsSubjects you could study to give you the skills
Likes to use words, art, music or drama to communicate, perform, or express themselves, create and design thingsExpressing artistically or physically, speaking, writing, singing, performing, designing, presenting, planning, composing, playing, dancingArtist, illustrator, photographer, signwriter, composer, singer, instrument player, dancer, actor, reporter, writer, editor, advertiser, hairdresser, fashion designerEnglish, Social Studies, Music, Drama, Art, Graphic Design, Computing, Business Studies, Languages


Description of interest areaSome key skillsSome occupations with Social componentsSubjects you could study to give you the skills
Likes to work with people to teach, train and inform, help, treat, heal and cure, serve and greet, concerned for the wellbeing and welfare of othersCommunicating orally or in writing, caring and supporting, training, meeting, greeting, assisting, teaching, informing, interviewing, coachingTeacher, nurse, nurse aide, counsellor, police officer, social worker, salesperson, customer service officer, waiter, secretaryEnglish, Social Studies, Maths, Science, Health, Physical Education, Art, Computing, Business Studies, Languages


Description of interest areaSome key skillsSome occupations with Enterprising componentsSubjects you could study to give you the skills
Likes meeting people, leading, talking to and influencing others, encouraging others, working in businessSelling, promoting and persuading, developing ideas, public speaking, managing, organising, leading and captaining, computing, planningSalesperson, lawyer, politician, accountant, business owner, executive or manager, travel agent, music or sports promoterEnglish, Maths, Business Studies, Accounting, Economics, Social Studies, Drama, Computing, Text Information Management, Languages


Description of interest areaSome key skillsSome occupations with Conventional componentsSubjects you could study to give you the skills
Likes working indoors and at tasks that involve organising and being accurate, following procedures, working with data or numbers, planning work and eventsComputing and keyboarding, recording and keeping records, paying attention to detail, meeting and greeting, doing calculations, handling money, organising, arranging, working independentlySecretary, receptionist, office worker, librarian, bank clerk, computer operator, stores and dispatch clerkEnglish, Maths, Business Studies, Accounting, Economics, Computing, Text Information Management

Holland asserts that people of the same personality type working together in a job create an environment that fits and rewards their type.

Within this theory there are six basic types of work environment, which correlate directly to the personality types. Holland emphasises that people who choose to work in an environment similar to their personality type are more likely to be successful and satisfied. This idea is important as it shows Holland’s theory can be flexible, incorporating combination types.

Holland’s theory takes a problem-solving and cognitive approach to career planning. His model has been very influential in career counselling. It has been employed through popular assessment tools such as the Self-Directed Search, Vocational Preference Inventory and the Strong Interest Inventory.

You can explore Holland’s model below. Click on each personality type to read more about it.

There is much research to support Holland’s typology. However it is not without criticism, the most common being the prevalence of females to score in three personality types (artistic, social and conventional). According to Holland this is because society channels women into female-dominated occupations.


  • Jones, L, ‘The Career Key’, accessed December 2008, (www.careerkey.org).
  • ‘Big Picture View of Career Development Theory’, accessed December 2008, (www.ccdf.ca).
  • Savickas, M, and Lent, R, ‘Convergence in Career Development Theories’, Palo Alto, California, USA: Consulting Psychologists Press Inc.