As indicated in the introduction, there is more than one type of career development theory in addition to the explanatory and descriptive approaches we have been concentrating on thus far. The purpose of this section is to introduce a second type. These theories are essentially aspirational in character and consist of claims about what self and others should do in order to live more successful lives. They are often called theories of career management or models of career education, guidance and coaching. The table below contains just a selection taken from a large academic and popular literature in this area. There are many more examples in the on-line journals and on the 'self-help' shelves of high street bookstores.

5 examples are summarised below drawing from a range of discipline areas. You are invited to read this and pick 2 examples to follow up using the reading list. Please compare and contrast each of them and consider in relation to our work on explanatory and descriptive career development theories. I have shared some of my reflections below.


(Watts 1977)

Self awareness Opportunity awareness Decision learning Transition learning  

Career Competencies

(DeFillippi & Arthur 1996)

Knowing why Knowing how Knowing whom    

*Planned Happenstance

(Mitchell, Levin & Krumboltz 1999)

Curiosity Persistence Flexibility Optimism Risk taking

*Career Self-management Behaviours

(King 2004)

Positioning Influencing Boundary managing    

*Career Competencies for the Modern Career

(Kuijpers & Scheerens 2006)

Career reflection Work exploration Career control Self-presentation  

*Indicates available in the on-line journals.



Further steps