The ‘High Five’ of career development

Virtual Five! by Melanie Allan

Up high! Down low! Too slow!

Yesterday I attended the NICEC workshop on the Blueprint for Career Development. This is a competency framework for career management skills that was originally developed in Canada and has been adopted by Australia and some European countries. I don’t have time to blog about the Blueprint properly at the moment so watch out for a future post on it. In the meantime, you might want to take a look at Tristram Hooley’s presentation from the workshop and poke around on the Australian Blueprint website.

For this post I wanted to refer to something that is mentioned, almost in passing, in the Blueprint material — the ‘High Five of Career Development’.

In 1995 a collection of Canadian career ‘experts’ were put in a room and told to come up with summarise all they knew about career development in a few ‘pithy messages’.

Here is what they came up with:

1. Change is constant

Continuous developments in technology, economics, demographics and society mean that it is virtually impossible to keep up with the shifting world of work and to predict the skills and knowledge that will be required for jobs that might exist in the future. In addition, people change over time; who you are now may bear very little relation to who you might be in the future. Setting goals that are too rigid in this kind of environment can be dangerous.

2. Follow your heart

In a changing environment, finding things that are relatively constant to provide a compass is important. Skills and knowledge are just tools that might go in and out of fashion. Personal values, beliefs and even dreams may a better starting point for career conversations than an emphasis on matching people to roles that are currently available but which may vanish in a few years’ time.

3. Focus on the journey

If the destination is unclear because it is constantly moving, perhaps it is better to help people focus on enjoying the process. This would involve moving away from helping people to make ‘the correct decision’ to helping them to be capable of evaluating the impact of their decisions on an ongoing basis.

4. Stay learning

If change is constant then learning must be constant and should be seen as part of the journey. However, it could be dangerous to limit the idea of learning to formal settings; this doesn’t work for everyone. Rather than focusing on particular qualifications and courses, we should be helping people to engage in everyday learning and personal development.

5. Be an ally

Rather than over-emphasising the autonomy and independence of career decision making, we need to help people to understand the importance of interdependence. We need to encourage people to understand the impact that connection to other people has on our decision making and on our ability to deal with change, to understand ourselves, to enjoy the process of an unfolding career journey and to engage with everyday learning.



So, what do you think of the High Five: profound pithiness or pumped-up platitudes?

Do you agree with all of these messages?

Do you think they are relevant to everyone?

If you were to sum up your career wisdom in a pithy message, what would you add to the High Five?


Further reading

Redekopp, D. (1995) The ‘High Five’ of Career Development. ERIC Digest.




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  1. #1 by Cath on 27 October 2011 - 12:25

    The ‘High Five’ is well known to many of us working with young people as it is featured in The Real Game – a popular CEIAG resource.

  2. #2 by Karen (@notchuraverage1) on 27 October 2011 - 20:05

    Indeed as a former Real Game trainer I know the high 5 very well. I’ve always struggled with # 2. I’m not sure that following one’s heart is ALWAYS a wise move. E.g., there are a number of students participating in the Occupy Wall Street Movement who followed their hearts in choosing majors and earning degrees that are barely marketable racking up debt they can’t pay.

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