Career Development & Management

  • Post last modified:9 October 2021
  • Reading time:13 mins read

What is Career Management?

Career management is lifelong, self-monitored process of career planning that involves choosing and setting personal goals, and formulating strategies for achieving them. Career management is conscious planning of one’s activities and engagements in the jobs one undertakes in the course of his life for better fulfilment, growth and financial stability.

It is a sequential process that starts from an understanding of oneself and encompasses occupational awareness.

Career management is more or less like organizational management; after all an organization is nothing but an assortment of individuals! The process of career management begins with the formulation of goals and objectives those that are short term or meant to be achieved in the short run. This is a tedious task compared to a long term career goal which is more or visionary in nature.

Since the objective is short term or immediate, it is more of action-oriented. Second it demands achievement every day, every moment. Again this step can be very difficult for those who are not aware of the opportunities available or are not completely conscious of their talents.

The final step in the career management process is the evaluation of the career management plan for ensuring that progress is being made or if there is a need to introduce some changes in the latter.


What is Career Development?

Career development is the process of managing your life, learning and work. It’s as an ongoing process of review, discovery, deciding and action. In a tighter job market, creativity (identifying career combinations where the applicant can offer a unique selling proposition) and flexibility will likely become more important. The process of organizational career development is important for both employees and employers.

There may be several unintended and undesired changes as well as consequences that can change the entire scenario. In such a situation both employees and employers must be ready to keep with the changing environment and act accordingly.

Employees continuously need to upgrade their skills and competencies to meet the current demands whereas organizations must be ready with those employees who can handle the pressure efficiently and cease the risk of falling prey to the changed scenario. Therefore, understanding the importance of career development is very necessary for both parties.

Model of Adult Development

A persons career is one part of life, influence by major events. The two models of adult development which are a model of career development. Theorists Erik Erikson and Daniel Levinson offer the stage model of adult development which provides a basis for understanding career development.

Erikson’s Model of Adult Development

Our personality traits come in opposites. We think of ourselves as optimistic or pessimistic, independent or dependent, emotional or unemotional, adventurous or cautious, leader or follower, aggressive or passive.

Many of these are inborn temperament traits, but other characteristics, such as feeling either competent or inferior, appear to be learned, based on the challenges and support we receive in growing up.

The man who did a great deal to explore this concept is Erik Erikson. Although he was influenced by Freud, he believed that the ego exists from birth and that behavior is not totally defensive. He organized life into eight stages that extend from birth to death (many developmental theories only cover childhood).

Then, since adulthood covers a span of many years, Erikson divided the stages of adulthood into the experiences of young adults, middle-aged adults and older adults. While the actual ages may vary considerably from one stage to another, the ages seem to be appropriate for the majority of people.

According to Erikson’s theory, every person must pass through a series of eight interrelated stages over the entire life cycle.

Infancy: Birth 18 Months old

Basic trust vs. Mistrust – Hope

During the first or second year of life, the major emphasis is on the mother and father’s nurturing ability and care for a child, especially in terms of visual contact and touch. The child will develop optimism, trust, confidence, and security if properly cared for and handled. If a child does not experience trust, he or she may develop insecurity, worthlessness, and general mistrust to the world.

Toddler/Early Childhood Years: 18 Months to 3 Years

Autonomy vs. Shame – Will

The second stage occurs between 18 months and 3 years. At this point, the child has an opportunity to build self-esteem and autonomy as he or she learns new skills and right from wrong. The well-cared for child is sure of himself, carrying him or herself with pride rather than shame.

During this time of the “terrible twos”, defiance, temper tantrums, and stubbornness can also appear. Children tend to be vulnerable during this stage, sometimes feeling shame and low self-esteem during an inability to learn certain skills.

Preschooler: 3 to 5 Years

Initiative vs. Guilt – Purpose

During this period we experience a desire to copy the adults around us and take initiative in creating play situations. While Erikson was influenced by Freud, he downplays biological sexuality in favor of the psychosocial features of conflict between child and parents.

If we’re frustrated over natural desires and goals, we may easily experience guilt. The most significant relationship is with the basic family.

School-Age Child: 6 to 12 Years

Industry vs. Inferiority – Competence

During this stage, often called the Latency, we are capable of learning, creating and accomplishing numerous new skills and knowledge, thus developing a sense of industry. This is also a very social stage of development and if we experience unresolved feelings of inadequacy and inferiority among our peers, we can have serious problems in terms of competence and self-esteem.

Adolescent: 12 to 18 Years

Identity vs. Role Confusion – Fidelity

The fifth stage, development depends on what is done to a person. At this point, development now depends primarily upon what a person does. An adolescent must struggle to discover and find his or her own identity while negotiating and struggling with social interactions and “fitting in”, and developing a sense of morality and right from wrong.

Some attempt to delay entrance to adulthood and withdraw from responsibilities (moratorium). Those unsuccessful with this stage tend to experience role confusion and upheaval. Adolescents begin to develop a strong affiliation and devotion to ideals, causes, and friends.

Young adult: 18 to 35

Intimacy and Solidarity vs. Isolation – Love

At the young adult stage, people tend to seek companionship and love. Some also begin to “settle down” and start families, although seems to have been pushed back farther in recent years. Young adults seek deep intimacy and satisfying relationships, but if unsuccessful, isolation may occur. Significant relationships at this stage are with marital partners and friends.

Middle-aged Adult: 35 to 55 or 65

Generativity vs. Self-absorption or Stagnation – Care

Career and work are the most important things at this stage, along with family. Middle adulthood is also the time when people can take on greater responsibilities and control. For this stage, working to establish stability and Erikson’s idea of generativity – attempting to produce something that makes a difference to society.

Inactivity and meaninglessness are common fears during this stage. Major life shifts can occur during this stage. For example, children leave the household; careers can change, and so on. Some may struggle with finding purpose. Significant relationships are those within the family, workplace, local church and other communities.

Late Adult: 55 or 65 to Death

Integrity vs. Despair – Wisdom

Erikson felt that much of life is preparing for the middle adulthood stage and the last stage is recovering from it. Perhaps that is because as older adults we can often look back on our lives with happiness and are content, feeling fulfilled with a deep sense that life has meaning and we’ve made a contribution to life, a feeling Erikson calls integrity.

On the other hand, some adults may reach this stage and despair at their experiences and perceived failures. They may fear death as they struggle to find a purpose to their lives, wondering “Was the trip worth it?” Alternatively, they may feel they have all the answers (not unlike going back to adolescence) and end with a strong dogmatism that only their view has been correct.

Levinson’s Approach to Adult Development

Levinson’s theory on adulthood includes six different stages. The first stage is early adult transition, and that happens between the ages of 17 and 22. The other phases include: entering the adult world, age 30 transition, settling down, mid-life transition, and entering middle adulthood.

Early Adulthood (Ages 17-45)

The next stage in early adulthood is entering the adult word –ages 23 through 27. The young adult is expected to become a responsible member of society and to form a stable life structure. This period is also characterized by the development of dream of adult accomplishment. The dream is almost always phrased in terms of occupational goals. Although these dreams are often proven to be unrealistic, they do provide a sense of direction and purpose.

Age 30 Transition

For many people, the age 30 transition ages 28 through 32 is a difficult period. It is a time to look back on the choices that have been made up to this point. Divorces are very common during this period. Levinson referred to the first three periods of the early adulthood era as the novice phase. It is the time when men prepare for entry into adult world.

The settling down period The last stage of early adulthood is the settling down period –ages 33 through 39. During this period, individuals form true commitments to things such as work, family, leisure, friendship, community or whatever is important in their lives. They also work to fulfill the dreams they established in the previous period.

Midlife Transition

The first stage in the middle adulthood era is the middle transition ages 40 through 44. This period serves as a bridge between early and middle adulthood. The midlife transition, like the age 30 transition is characterized by self – examination. Life structure comes into question, usually a time of crisis in the meaning, direction, and value of each person’s life. Neglected parts of the self (talents, desires, aspirations) seek expression.

Men are seen more as parents than as “brothers” to other men who are somewhat younger than them and this message comes as an irritation at first. Also at this time, men becoming increasingly aware of death and they are reminded of how short life really is. They become involved in trying to leave a legacy and this usually forms the core of the second half of his life.

Entering middle adulthood (45-50)

In this stage choices must be made, a new life structure should be formed. Person must commit to new tasks. Some sources also stated that there was a late adulthood stage. The later adult hood begins with the late adulthood transition (ages 60-65).

During this period, the individual faces additional major life events, typically including retirement, further physical decline, and the loss of family and loved ones. During this period a person spent time reflecting on past achievements and regrets, and making peace with one’s self and others.


Models of Career Development

It’s impossible to depict adult development as progressing through a series of stages. There are two approaches to modelling career development one traditional and the other more contemporary.

Traditional Models of career development

Traditional career development models often involved young people making informed decisions designed to set them on a straight path in a typical step-by-step fashion. Students would typically make a career decision, get the proper training or education, get a job in their chosen occupation, and retire with a nice pension.

Here are discussed similarities among these models, Greenhaus and colleagues combine these approaches into a five-stage model.

Stage 1: Preparation of work (Age 0-25)

The task during this phase is to involve and form the idea of occupation one would like to engage in and to make necessary preparations for entry into that occupation. These activities include assessing possible occupations, selecting an occupation, and obtaining the necessary education.

Stage 2: Organizational Entry (Age 18-25)

This is the stage where an individual selects a job and an organization to begin his/her employment in a chosen career field. The quality of information which one has obtained can affect whether the initial job choice taken will be a fulfilling introduction to one’s career or a disappointing false start.

The difficulties which an individual faces in this stage are initial job challenge, initial job satisfaction due to the disparity between initial expectations and organizational realities.

Stage 3: The early career (Age 25-40)

This is the stage of an individual when he/she strives to find a place in the world and also establishing oneself in a career and organization. There are several challenges that are involved in this stage such as becoming technically competent and adjusting oneself into an organization. Therefore tackling these challenges would result in job satisfaction and career advancement.

Stage 4: Mid-career (Age 40-55)

During this stage one of the issues that an individual face is to evaluate the choices adopted during the early career stage. An individual may make appropriate changes and remain productive at work. The two events that might occur during this stage are plateauing which is essentially an insignificant change in job responsibility or advancement.

The other event is obsolescence which is realizing that once a skill is no longer sufficient to perform a certain task due to changes in technology. An employee who can successfully tackle these issues will remain productive and be satisfied.

Stage 5: The late career (Age -55 to retirement)

During this stage, an employee must try to remain productive and maintain once self-esteem. Secondly, the individual often enters into retirement mode. Retirement brings several changes which could be emotional, financial and social. The individual also has to plan his/her post-retirement life, manage pension funds or plan to take up some other career opportunity.


Role of HRD Professionals in Career Development

An HRD professional role is the same in career management as it is in any other HRD activity. An HRD professional done the role of career counsellor when he assists individual employees in assessing their knowledge and skills to development realistic career development plan for the employee.

The role of a coach or a performance consultant is played by them when they advised line managers about the appropriate intervention designed to improve the performance of the group or an individual.

HRD Professionals act as researchers when they assess the human resource development practices and programs with the help of appropriate statistical procedures to find out their effectiveness and then they communicate the results to the top-level management.

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