Perspectives On Career Development

Career development can be understood as one of the many aspects of socialization that combine to create human development; in this case the focus is on occupational or work socialization. In psychological terms, the individual ac quires motivation to act in certain ways related to his or her beliefs about personal self-efficacy to achieve in particular work domains, to the likelihood that certain valued outcomes will occur from some choices and not others, and to the salience of work to his or her personal identity. In sociological terms, however, individual career development is also a product of the constraints on and barriers to choices that individuals might prefer to make. Such constraints can occur because of limitations on individual choice that arise from political conditions or from economic circumstances. Sociological effects on choice also can be seen in family and cultural influences. Families with differing educational and socioeconomic backgrounds tend to reinforce different educational and occupational goals and belief systems related to career choice. Nations and cultural groups also differ in how particular types of education, work, or family roles are valued, and these perceptions tend to be internalized by group members and reflected in their choices.

Career development can be thought of in both structural and developmental terms (Herr & Cramer, 1996). The structure of career development refers to the elements that comprise concepts like career maturity, career adaptability, career planfulness, and person-job congruence (Holland, 1997). Career maturity, for example, in adolescence and career adaptability in adulthood tend to include five factors: planfulness or time perspective, exploration, information, decision making, and reality orientation. These five factors are structural components of career maturity, and each factor has its own structural sub-elements.

In addition to a structural approach to career development, there is also a developmental approach. In such an approach, the questions are different: Does career maturity change over time? Is behavior described as career mature at age 18 the same as career adaptability at age 25 or 45? What are the factors that influence career behavior at different life stages: childhood, adolescence, young adult, mid-career adult, older adult?

Further perspectives view career development as a lifestyle concept. In essence, the work roles that one implements throughout the life span are not independent of other life roles; indeed, they may be in conflict with them. For example, being a workaholic, a spouse, and a parent may be problematic if the amount of energy or time given to the work role is significantly out of balance with that given to these other life roles.

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