A balanced approach to Career Theory
Most people don’t start out in school knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives, or what steps they need to take to achieve that. In fact, even those people who have a clear goal in mind may find that legislation, changing attitudes towards education and experience, or even the simple need for a day job to pay the bills get in the way of previously rock-solid plans.
Where once careers were linear progressions (advance in jobs until you potentially reach a management position) they now are arranged through networks and switches between companies and departments.
There are many theories and models built to tackle the questions “what is a career?” and “how do we build one?”, and the accumulated wisdom is that careers are influenced by:
- Your talents (strengths and weaknesses)
- The skills you learned in school, at work and in daily life
- Personal beliefs and values
- Your social groups and networks
- Random chance events
Putting such theories into practice, you could analyze every facet of your life, and expect an outcome where your ideal occupation comes out, at a level you are comfortable with, and occupying a good work-life balance. But that is not how things work out – your preferred occupation might be underpaid or over represented in the market, making it unlikely you will land such a job.
Suddenly the market and flexibility start playing a role, as well as the potential competition you will face. Sometimes a promotion might also come with additional stress or hours, and the question whether you will receive adequate compensation for your new role.
And what if you change your mind? Is all your hard work now for nothing?
In the series “Career 2.0” I will try and tackle the many theories, questions and options for careers, and model a framework you can use to define and adjust your personal career plan.