Posts Tagged social capital
I’ve been having some very interesting conversations lately on LinkedIn groups.
In one discussion, a Canadian career service manager described how his team had been increasingly using the term ‘career literacy’ to describe what they were trying to develop in their students. He asked what we thought of the term.
Part of me really likes the idea of literacy as a set of skills that enables you to interact with information. According to the UNESCO definition, literacy involves “a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society“. That fits rather well with the aims of a careers service.
My reservation with the term is that, in a university setting, literacy could be interpreted as rather a basic level of learning. By the time students have reached university, they should have gone beyond literacy and be operating in the realm of analysis and critical thinking. Would it have face value with the academic community?
So, what other terms could we use and what would they imply? Can we come up with something which appeals to those who are looking at immediate solutions as well as giving a strong message about developing an ability to deal with issues over the entire course of your career?
This kicked the random word generator in my brain into overdrive and I tried to come up with a range of phrases to describe what we are trying to nurture in our clients.
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How does change happen?
What motivates change?
What makes a change sustainable?
Richard Boyatzis, Professor of Organizational Behavior at Case Western Reserve University, has the answers… or maybe an answer: Intentional Change Theory.
Professor Boyatzis has earned a mention on this blog previously for a natty little theory he developed with David Kolb (of learning styles fame) about the various modes of performance, learning and development one goes through repeatedly in one’s career. He is also a researcher, writer and speaker on the subject of emotional intelligence.
Are you successful in your career?
How do you know?
Traditionally, there are two ways of measuring career success:
- objective success — externally measurable things such as salary level, number of promotions, etc.
- subjective success — internal, psychological factors, such as level of career satisfaction, happiness, etc.
These two types of success can sometimes be related, i.e. the more objective success you achieve, the more subjective success you experience. However, they can also be unrelated. So, other people might perceive you as being successful, but you don’t feel it, or you might be really happy in your work even though other people might think you haven’t had much of a career.
Is there a way of predicting what factors lead to objective or subjective career success? Well, lots of researchers have tried to answer that question. Vast numbers of researchers have tried to examine the link between a range of attributes and the likelihood of a good career outcome. That’s far too much reading for me! I’d like someone else to do it for me…
I am preparing material for an employability module, and I’ve been getting myself into it by exploring different definitions and concepts of employability.
What is employability?
Coming at that question from a careers adviser’s perspective, I tend, by default, to think about employability in terms of the awareness and attributes of the individual job seeker. So into my head come the career management skills of the classic DOTS model (although, why it’s called DOTS and not SODT escapes me).
- Self awareness
- Option awareness
- Decision learning
- Transition learning
However, that’s not the only way of looking at employability. I thought it might be useful to share some of the perspectives on this subject that I have found most interesting. This is not meant to be an exhaustive literature review on the subject of employability, just an idiosyncratic collection of things that have caught my attention.
On my recent trip to New York I visited a number of interesting places that made me think about how people deal with change. (I know! Even on holiday I’m generating material for blog posts! How sad!).
I also read a book that made me think about luck. This blog post is an attempt to put all that thinking into one place in preparation for a possible training session on navigating change.
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A few concepts that I blogged about have been floating round in my head for a while. A recent discussion with a client made them come together.
She was talking about how her educational background in Africa had given her a particular mindset about career success. She explained that in her home country, passing a relevant professional examination pretty much guaranteed an appropriate job. When she came to the UK, it was a great shock to her that just having good qualifications was not enough. She had been surprised at the emphasis placed on demonstrating acceptable personal qualities and the importance of networking. It had taken her quite a while to overcome this mindset, and even now her initial reaction when faced with a career challenge was to think about what training she could obtain.
She was quite surprised when I told her that it wasn’t just people from outside the UK that suffered from this blinkered attitude to employability and career success.
Bill Law is a bit of a guru when it comes to careers theory — he developed the DOTS framework which is used frequently in careers education. He even has his own website www.hihohiho.com and twitter following. He constantly argues for a more radical, activist perspective on careers guidance and education, embracing complexity and reforming careers to also consider life-role related learning. More recently he’s done some work on storyboarding as David has mentioned in his earlier post.
But going back to the classics — in 1981, Law introduced his Community Interaction Theory. He suggested that some of the most influential factors in career choice relate to events which occur in the context of ‘community interaction’ between the individual and the social groups of which she or he is a member. If theories such as Circumscription and Compromise talk about the impact of society pressures on our decision making process, Community Interaction focuses on some of the mechanisms by which this takes place.
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.
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
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 post: Let the right one in
Careers - in Theory is a blog from The Careers Group, University of London.
The aim of this blog is to highlight and discuss theories, models, research and other interesting stuff that might have an impact on the work of careers education and guidance.
At The Careers Group we like to think deeply about the work we do whilst maintaining our practicality and our sense of humour.
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