7 Tips for Navigating Career Development Theory in 2021 and Beyond

Navigating career development theory

How can we make sense of career development theory as it applies today? Globalization along with fast-paced developments in science, engineering, information technology, and communication affect the labour market. These trends call us to constantly adapt and reinvent ourselves. As career development practitioners, it is important to be aware of the strengths and limitations of the theories, models, and approaches we use. Our goal is to identify strategies that will optimally support our clients in a holistic way. We would like to share our 7 tips for navigating career development theory in 2021:

1. Open your mind to understanding “career” from a unique lens.

Our careers are non-linear. Many clients want to find a “permanent” job and stay with a company for the next 10 to 15 years. Career development theories and models of the 20th century once focused on a single career path. Today, work trends are shifting from full-time and permanent to part-time and casual-contract, office-based to remote, and single job to portfolio careers.

Australian Learning and Development Specialist, Steve Dawson, coined the term Multitrack Lifecareer (ML). Throughout our lives, we may have several careers, sometimes managing different jobs or types of work at the same time. As innovations arise, some jobs will become obsolete, while new ones will evolve. Piecemeal, gig careers, and multitrack careers will become the main themes for career development in the 21st century.

2. Develop skills for success.

In 2021, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is replacing Essential Skills with Skills for Success. As stated on the government’s website, “Skills for Success provide Canadians with everyday skills needed for work, learning and life. Improving them will help you succeed in today’s and tomorrow’s workplace.”

These skills include:

  • Literacy (reading, writing, numeracy)
  • Adaptability
  • Digital Skills
  • Creativity & Innovation
  • Problem Solving
  • Communication
  • Collaboration

Remaining agile and shifting to more relevant formats of working and multi-tasking is the key to success.

Learning is becoming less formal and more globally accessible. Skill development will be gained through experience, and formal and informal learning will occur via flexible, remote learning platforms such as MOOCS — Massive Open Online Courses.

3. Embrace work-life integration.

Many people may find that work-life balance is harder to achieve than work-life integration. With more people working from home, our personal and professional lives are merging. CPC’s Work-Life Strategist Course teaches that career development is about blending all areas of living, learning, and working. New solutions for work-life fulfillment will need a creative approach with a focus on wellness.

4. Accept change as constant.

Years ago, we tended to view “change” as something that was temporary or occasional. Today, change is a constant force that we will need to accept in our lives. Robert Pryor and Jim Bright’s Chaos Theory of Careers shows that interconnectedness, change, and chance events influence career development. As work-life strategists we need to validate our clients’ experiences and help them understand that they have “choices” and access to resources.

Our goal is to help reframe our client’s possible discomfort with change as a natural part of life and opportunity for growth. We can support our clients through setbacks and inspire them to improve their flexibility, resilience, and optimism.

5. Adopt a careerpreneurial mindset.

Today, we are the CEOs of our brand. We can no longer depend on employers to take care of our career security, development, and financial needs. We must take advantage of unexpected events, proactively identify opportunities, and refine our brand.

Krumboltz’s Theory of Planned Happenstance (1979) teaches us to turn unforeseen events into work opportunities. The Boundaryless Career Attitude by Arthur (1994) and Rousseau (1996) talks about being mobile, navigating changes more fluidly within an organization, both physically and psychologically. This framework still applies today. As CDPs, we can encourage our clients to engage in new experiences for advancing professionally.

6. Redefine your idea of career success.

According to NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) principles, there is no failure, only feedback, which is an empowering way to view success. The Protean theory by Hall (1976, 2002) sees career through a lens of developmental progression, self-realization, and fulfillment. This view is like the Japanese concept of Ikigai, one’s passion for life and reason for being. The person’s values and beliefs define their measure of career success. So, we need to coach our clients in managing their own careers and adapting to the changing world of work.

7. Dispel career myths and outdated mindsets.

While career development can enhance personal understanding, no theory is universal. Career theories and models have evolved from a developmental view to a contextual and a holistic client-centred perspective.

Job stability has shifted as more people are changing jobs every few years to diversify their skillsets. Today, many workers spend less than five years in a job before moving on to a new one. Being flexible will help our clients to effectively pivot to new roles and industries.

Helping Clients Navigate the World of Work

We can help our clients see their career as a journey towards higher learning, professional development, and self-discovery rather than a series of mere struggles or positive leaps. This strategy can be achieved by encouraging and coaching clients to use their intuition, remain open to new connections, and prepare to explore different prospects.

Invest in your professional development! Take your knowledge of career development theory to a new level with CPC’s Career Development Foundations course. Get ready to earn your CCDP certification.

Additional Resources

Applying Career Development Theory

Timeline of Career Theories and Models

Lori Jazvac is a passionate, award-winning Master Certified Résumé Strategist and Certified Employment Strategist through Career Professionals of Canada. As a multi-certified Master Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Coach, she specializes in helping clients navigate challenging career transitions. In 2013, an empowering vision inspired Lori to launch Creative Horizons Communications, a holistic career services firm where she virtually supports jobseekers around the globe to embrace their next career milestone. In her spare time, Lori enjoys dance, blogging, watching comedies and reality shows, yoga, and taking long walks in nature.

Ksenia Lazoukova is a dynamic Certified Work-Life Strategist (CWS). She also proudly holds CPC certifications as a Résumé (CRS), Career (CCS), Employment (CES), and Interview (CIS) Strategist. In her role as an Employment Specialist at Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia, Ksenia helps newcomers to Nova Scotia with their employment goals. In her past role as a Job Coach with Easter Seals Nova Scotia/New Leaf Enterprises, she provided a wide range of employment services to people with disabilities. Ksenia has over 14 years of experience serving people with physical and intellectual disabilities. Her passion is helping people of various backgrounds overcome multiple barriers, fulfill their life and career goals, and become more fully integrated into their communities.

Photo by Valentina Baranova on 123RF

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Thank you Lori and Ksenia for this insightful article. A successful career is defined uniquely for each each client and your tips are a good reminder to maintain an open mind before marching down a path. I appreciate all the resource links provided! ??

Thanks so much, Barb, for your kind words. I echo your points – every client requires an individualized approach, open-mindedness, and flexibility on the CDP’s part.

You’re very welcome, Barb! Your insights are greatly appreciated. I agree that keeping an open mind and remaining adaptable to the changes that lie ahead is key in navigating career development.