Posts Tagged engagement

A strengths-based approach in careers guidance

I would like to thank Elaine Denniss from The Careers Group for contributing this guest posting. — David.

World's strongest kid

‘… One cannot build on weakness. To achieve results, one has to use all the available strengths…  These strengths are the true opportunities’ (Drucker, 1967)

In preparing to facilitate a recent Guidance Forum on using a strengths-based approach in careers guidance, I revisited some of the positive psychology and strengths-based literature. Because of this, I have been reflecting further on how I can incorporate some of the ideas, theories and approaches into my careers work.

The positive psychology and strengths-based movement has been gaining momentum over recent years with a growing body of research demonstrating the benefits of positive emotion and focusing on our strengths for our life and our work.   In emphasising strengths rather than weaknesses, positive psychology moves us away from the Negativity Bias whereby we find it easier to pay attention to what’s wrong or areas requiring development.  The concept of strengths appeared in business literature with Peter Drucker (1967) and subsequently through the vision of Donald Clifton of The Gallup Organisation and the work of Martin Seligman in the field of positive psychology.

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The fun theory

A while ago I was running a workshop on career choice. After we had explored all the various things that one should be doing to increase one’s chances of making a good decision, one of the participants looked at me with a rather glum expression and said ‘That sounds like too much hard work! Even though I know I should do it, I’m not sure I will. It’s not much fun.’

I had to agree with her. The way I was presenting it made it sound really onerous, responsible and worthy. Surely, there must be another way!

OK, The Fun Theory isn’t a career theory, it’s not really a theory at all. It’s a competition and marketing initiative by Volkswagen which involves coming up with ideas to encourage people to do responsible things (such as recycling and doing more exercise) by making them more fun. See the video below for a way to get people to take the stairs rather than the escalator.

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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

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Constructing successful careers

How useful are your career constructs?

How useful are your career constructs?

A while ago I came across a fascinating article entitled ‘Graduates’ Construction Systems and Career Development’ by Valerie Fournier (Human Relations 50(4) 1997). The research used a technique from Personal Construct Psychology called the Repertory Grid to elicit the constructs (mental frameworks) through which graduates viewed themselves in the world of work. Fournier examined the graduates as they started their careers, after six months and then after four years.

She then compared the graduates whose careers had been successful with those who were less successful. She used objective measures of success (i.e. promotions) and subjective measures (i.e. reported career satisfaction).
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Time-wasters’ diary

Relaxing may be bad for you

Relaxing may be bad for you

Recent longitudinal research has established a link between students’ behaviour at university and their chances of job burnout or dissatisfaction.

In their article ‘Achievement strategies during university studies predict early career burnout and engagement’ (Journal of Vocational Behavior 75 2009), Katariina Salmela-Aro and her colleagues conducted investigations on over 200 Finnish students whilst at university and then 10, 14 and 17 years later.

The study showed that those students who more often engaged in task avoidance whilst at university were more likely to report burnout or disengagement with their careers in later life. Whilst, higher levels of optimism were linked to more engagement.
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