In last week’s post about employability I presented four approaches to employability (Careerist, Ritualist, Rebel and Retreatist).
This got me all enthusiastic about typologies that put people into boxes which describe their approach to career management and decision making. I’ve found a few, but I’m hoping that you can come up with some more for me.
Greenhaus et al. (1995) developed a grid based on levels of career decisiveness. They divide people up based on whether they have or have not developed a clear career goal and whether or not they experience anxiety about their career decision making.
- Developmental indecision – These people don’t know what they want – yet. They haven’t gathered enough information about themselves and their options.
- Chronic indecision – These people show long-term indecisiveness. They may lack self-confidence or have situational constraints on their career options. They are decision procrastinators.
- Vigilant decisiveness – These people have a career goal which they have based on sufficient personal and environmental information. Lucky them!
- Hypervigilant decisiveness – These people have a career goal but it is based on too little research or self-reflection. The decision may be an impulsive response to external pressure or discomfort with uncertainty.
This concentration on having goals is all a bit linear, so let’s look for something a bit more boundaryless.
In developing the concept of the boundaryless career, Sullivan & Arthur (2006) distinguished the concepts of physical mobility and psychological mobility. Applying these two dimensions gives us four approaches to career flexibility. Unfortunately, Sullivan and Arthur didn’t come up with any memorable names for these different approaches. Ideas welcome.
- Quadrant 1 – Low physical and psychological mobility. These people (Stickers?) want to stay in the same job/company and they tend to have a fixed idea of what career success means.
- Quadrant 2 – High physical mobility, low psychological mobility. These people (Hoppers?) are happy to move around but there is very little evolution of their career identity.
- Quadrant 3 – High psychological mobility, low physical mobility. These people (Adapters?) may be constrained to work in a particular location or organisation but may seek growth and development through role innovation.
- Quadrant 4 – High physical and psychological mobility. These people (Re-inventors?) are comfortable with the idea of changing roles and identities as well as changing environments. They probably have very diverse career histories.
Degrees of planfulness
Clarke (2009) describes four types of workers. Unfortunately, her four people don’t fit nicely into a grid, so I had to do a table. Still, she has given them interesting names.
- Plodders view employability in terms of working hard and being loyal to a particular organisation. They tend to focus on immediate career goals and tend not think about how to develop themselves to maintain their attractiveness to an employer. Employability is about the organisation keeping you safe.
- Pragmatists also tend to link their employability to the organisation they work for. However, they are more prepared to look for and take opportunities to advance within that organisation and increase their skills accordingly.
- Visionaries have a long-term plan for their career and all their decisions and actions are geared towards achieving that goal. Employability is something that enables you to achieve a particular target.
- Opportunists are prepared to adapt their career goals in light of new opportunities. They may change direction several times in their career. Therefore, employability is about maintaining your adaptability.
Careerists (whatever that means)
In studying the long-term impact of career guidance, Bimrose et al. (2008) identified four approaches to career development:
- Evaluative Careerists engage in a considerable amount of reflection about their career. They are keen to do work that is consistent with their values and interests and so the possible future consequences of each career decision must be analysed and explored.
- Strategic Careerists are driven by the idea of moving on in their careers. They like to have a clear goal and tend to use rational, pragmatic decision making to determine their actions.
- Aspirational Careerists also have long-term career goals, but these are often distant or vague. They may do very little in the short term to bring them about and spend a lot of their energies coping with immediate concerns that are tangential to these goals.
- Opportunistic Careerists respond to chance events and don’t tend to have clearly defined long-term career goals. They often rely on their intuition in making decisions about the opportunities to pursue.
Unfortunately, Bimrose et al. didn’t see fit to put these four careerists into a grid for us, so I’ve suggested three possible grids. Please feel free to suggest alternatives.
What other typologies are you aware of? Extra point will be given for the best names.
- Bimrose, J., Barnes, S.-A. & Hughes, D. (2008) Adult Career Progression & Advancement: A Five Year Study of the Effectiveness of Guidance. Warwick Institute for Employment Research.
- Clarke, M. (2009). Plodders, pragmatists, visionaries and opportunists: career patterns and employability. Career Development International, 14(1), 8-28. DOI: 10.1108/13620430910933556
- Greenhaus, J., Callanan, G. & Kaplan, E. (1995). The role of goal setting in career management International Journal of Career Management, 7(5), 3-12. DOI: 10.1108/09556219510093285
- Sullivan, S. & Arthur, M. (2006). The evolution of the boundaryless career concept: Examining physical and psychological mobility. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 69(1), 19-29. DOI: 10.1016/j.jvb.2005.09.001