Archive for November, 2009

Dimensions of career theory

In a comment on the post What makes a theory useful? I put forward the idea that one way of looking at the role of a guidance practitioner is that we are helping clients to formulate and improve their own career/life theories so that they can more effectively navigate their way into the future.

Examining and critiquing formal career theories is therefore good practice for this activity. The more adept you are at spotting the strengths and weaknesses of an academic career theory, the more you will be able to spot the biases, gaps and inconsistencies in an individual’s own career theory.

With that in mind, I thought it would be useful to look at some of the various dimensions by which career theories and models can be measured and analysed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

In the right zone

Zones of impact

What zone are you in?

A model that I use quite frequently in one-to-one guidance and group sessions is one that I cobbled together myself. I call it the Zones model (or Zones of Impact model).

The original spark for the idea came from the Cognitive Information Processing model. I was scared off by words such as ‘metacognitions’, but the idea of different domains of thinking appealed to me, as did the notion of using these domains to identify the type of help that would be most appropriate for particular clients. Further inspiration came from the knowing-why, knowing-how and knowing-whom of the Intelligent Career model and Blooms Taxonomy of Learning. I later came across the Transformational Learning model (sometimes called triple loop learning) which again looks at different levels of change that might take place with a client.

Out of these various sources of inspiration, I wanted to make a model that I would find easy to remember which would help me to locate and assess the type of help I was giving to clients. Thus was born the Zones of Impact model. The model attempts to classify different areas of client needs in four primary zones.

Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , , ,

10 Comments

Storyboarding

Tell me a story

Bill Law, the man behind Career Learning Theory and Community Interaction Theory, has recently been focusing on the use of narrative techniques in careers education. His most recent idea is the use of storyboarding as a way of exploring and understanding career choice.

In storyboarding, you sketch a sequence of key scenes in the development of your career thinking — key events and influential moments. You can also attempt to speculate on possible future stories as a form of creative envisioning and action planning.

Although much of this is primarily aimed at school-age careers work, it could be an interesting technique to use with more creative or visually-oriented students (English, Drama, Film, Media, Fine Art, etc.). It may also be a technique that engages the right side of the brain as well as the left.

Read the rest of this entry »

, , , ,

7 Comments

Can you disagree with yourself?

The brain

The different areas of this brain couldn't agree on a colour scheme.

In 1977 Joseph LeDoux and colleagues conducted an interesting experiment on a boy whose left and right brain hemispheres had been surgically separated. They set up a system in which they could ask questions to the separate halves of his brain. Because the left hemisphere controls many aspects of speech, the right brain had to spell out its answers using Scrabble tiles.  [LeDoux, J.E., Wilson, D.H. & Gazzaniga, M.S. (1977) A divided mind: Observations on the conscious properties of the separated hemispheres. Annals of Neurology, 2(5) 417-421.]

One of the questions they asked was about what job he would like. The left brain said ‘draftsman’ but the right brain spelled out ‘automobile race’. Because the left brain controls language, it gets to articulate its choices, but the right brain may have other ideas.

The left brain is often associated with linear reasoning, structure and detail and the right brain with holistic reasoning,  emotional tone and the big picture – although the real situation is more complex. Apparently, the picture of the spinning dancer below can tell you if you naturally favour your right or left brain. If she appears to be spinning anti-clockwise, you’re a left-brainer, clockwise and you’re a right-brainer. If you think this test is a bit simplistic — that’s a no-brainer. Actually, If this test tells you anything, it may only be which half of your brain you favour at a particular moment for certain types of visual processing and perception, but that may not be true for other functions, or it may be nothing to do with left-right brain differences.

Another more recent set of studies did not involve sliced brains but a more subtle manipulation of social identities in order to produce an internal conflict of opinions.

Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments

How intelligent is your career?

Tiger with glasses

I think they make me look intelligent!

Knowing why, knowing how and knowing whom — these are the three pillars of an intelligent career according to Michael Arthur, Priscilla Claman and Robert DeFillippi  [(1995) Intelligent enterprise, intelligent careers. Academy of Management Executive, 9(4) 7-19].

The notion of the intelligent career was developed in response to the shift that was taking place in the corporate world in the 1980s and 90s —  delayering, downsizing, outsourcing, etc. As part of this transformation, James Brian Quinn proposed that modern intelligent organisations should focus on their core competencies in three arenas: firm culture, know-how and networks.

Arthur et al. suggested that individual career success in such organisations could be founded on three similar personal core competencies or forms of knowing.

  • Knowing why — Understanding your motivation for working. Being clear on your values and being able to identify with your work.
  • Knowing how — Being aware of the skills and knowledge you bring to your work. Developing abilities to meet the demands of changing roles.
  • Knowing whom — Developing and maintaining the relationships that can have an impact on your career. Thinking about your image and reputation with others.

Read the rest of this entry »

, , , ,

3 Comments

What makes a theory useful?

A classic concept in cognitive science is the magical number seven (plus or minus two). Introduced to the world by George A. Miller in 1956, this is all about the typical number of chunks of information you can keep in your immediate memory.  As you become more familiar with a topic you may be able to retain more information in each chunk, but the number of chunks you can handle at one time always seems to be limited to roughly the same number — somewhere between five and nine. Try to remember more than that and one of the chunks of information already in there will probably vanish.

If you are an academic, researching career choice and development at your leisure, this limitation on immediate memory is not much of an issue. You can record vast amounts of information in a large number of categories and analyse it a piece at a time. However, as a practitioner you are acting in the moment with a client. If you want to be responsive rather than formulaic, you are very much dependent on your immediate memory and prey to its limitations.

Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , ,

15 Comments

Go on! Impress me!

Footprint in the sand

What sort of impression are you making?

Aminder Nijjar’s recent post about Career Image sent me off on a little journey into the world of impression management.

  • How do people try to control or influence the images they present to their work colleagues?
  • To what extent is career success linked to one’s ability to present an acceptable image?

A commonly used list of impression management tactics was produced by Jones and Pitman in 1982. They listed the following tactics:

  • Ingratiation — getting people to like you
  • Self-promotion — telling people how good you are
  • Exemplification — convincing people that you work really hard
  • Supplication — getting people to sympathise with you
  • Intimidation — threatening or appearing dangerous

Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , ,

5 Comments

How can careers advice be positive in a recession?

lady luck

Is it all a game of chance?

In a world of employment gloom where graduate jobs are on the decline it seems to me the time is ripe to inject a bit of planned happenstance theory into our careers sessions.

Many successful people, when asked about their career, will talk about an element of luck.  But being in the right pace at the right time usually involves taking action to get there.  The person fortunate enough to be offered a job during work experience gets the opportunity not only because they had the initiative to get the experience in the first place but also because they made an impact once through the door.

Planned happenstance is a useful tool for advising in a difficult economic climate, when the R-word hold sway.  First, because it encourages open-mindedness in career planning, rather than searching for a rigid career goal.  Secondly, it promotes positive action regardless of whether this leads to an obvious outcome.

But how does this impact on our work?

Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , ,

7 Comments

Poor students!

Peter Mandelson and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills have launched Higher Ambitions, the new framework for higher education.

Some news commentators have picked up on the recommendations that universities take more account of the social context of candidates during university recruitment and to prioritise measures that widen access to those from underprivileged backgrounds.

Even if one achieves the laudable aim of getting more students from deprived upbringings into higher education, will they be fully equipped to take advantage of the opportunity in order to develop their career decision making?

A report by Paul Greenbank and Sue Hepworth from Edge Hill University, Working class students and the career decision-making process, looks at ways in which the working class students who make it to university can still be disadvantaged in the job market. It makes interesting reading and challenges some of the assumptions that are made about such issues.

  • What are we doing to equip and re-equip underprivileged students when they get to university?
  • Should we have targetted programmes in place to help deal with the disadvantages that such students may carry with them?

Related postLet the right one in

, , , , , ,

2 Comments

How to make people like you

Do you anticipate a warm welcome?

Do you anticipate a warm welcome?

When you meet new people, do you tend to assume that they will like you or worry that they will reject you? Either way, you may be involved in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If you anticipate acceptance or rejection, you are likely to get what you expected. People who expect a favourable reception are more likely to behave warmly to the people they meet. This warmth influences the other person’s initial impressions of them. Conversely, if you expect to be judged negatively, you are likely to behave more coldly leading to negative initial impressions. Those initial impressions are then likely to influence future perceptions and judgements through the halo effect or the affect heuristic.

This has obvious implications for recruitment interviews and for networking. We often talk about the importance of good first impressions in these settings.
Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , ,

5 Comments

%d bloggers like this: