What do you tell clients about career development?

CPC Career Support 1

By Lise Stransky.

There are hundreds of career development theories available to practitioners, and each one has its merits. In 1995, a group of Canadian career practitioners were put in a room and told to come up with an accessible summary of all they knew about career development. The purpose was to promote career development. The “High Five of Career Development” is by far my favourite tool and summary of career development theory. For me, it is a simple way to articulate powerful principles of the changing nature of work, and how we make career decisions.

The High Five Principles of Career Development are:

  1. Change is Constant
  2. Follow Your Heart
  3. Learning is Ongoing
  4. Focus on the Journey
  5. Access your Allies

Think about these principles for a moment as you consider your own career and the decisions you have made so far.


Not only do we change over time, but the world of work changes. It is no longer common for people to stay in one job, or with one company for their entire career. “Those who are most aware of change, in themselves and in the world around them, are able to make proactive choices and benefit from change, rather than resist or complain about it.”


Know yourself, believe in yourself, and follow your heart. Those with dreams, however outlandish, are the lucky ones. Dreams can lead to an understanding of who we really are and what we really want, a prime motivator in shaping a meaningful, purposeful, and rewarding career. No one should be afraid to pursue dreams based on what is in their heart. 


Graduation is not the end of learning. Because change in ourselves, the work world, and society is accelerating, we need to keep learning to make the most of changing realities. People have to recognize, seize, and take advantage of opportunities to learn – opportunities that are everywhere.


Some people are so focused on the destination, they don’t even see the doors of opportunity, good new possibilities, potentially great relationships, etc., along the way. Too often their destination is not even of their own choosing. It’s one their parents or others feel is best for them. We must pay attention to each step of the journey, and become aware of the pitfalls, sidetracks, opportunities, and possibilities for new destinations. We must become good travelers on the journey of life.


The journey of life is not taken alone. Friends, family, teachers, neighbours – all can be willing and helpful allies when it comes to discovering one’s heart and dreams, and deciding what steps to take on life’s path. And we can be the good allies they need as well.

Want to play with the High Five Principles of Career Development? Check out THE REAL GAME Series, used with children Grades 3 – 12 and Adults.

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Wonderful article Lise! I myself have never heard of the High Five Principles of Career Development and you have broken down the core concepts so nicely here. I made a note to further explore this theory.

Thank you Adrienne! I learned about this theory while taking my graduate career practitioner development program, and it has been with me ever since…both for my own career management, and to assist my clients. The fluidity of it really resonates with me, and can be very empowering for those who are stuck trying to come up with a plan.