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In the current highly dynamic work environment, career self-management has become a major tool that one can use to remain relevant to the employer. The job market is getting flooded and employers are very keen when selecting those whom they hire or retain at their firms.
According to Guest and Liefooghe (2005, p. 825), career self-management, also known as independent career management, helps one to develop a career in a way that will not only enhance their satisfaction, but also improve work-life balance.
Employers are looking for people who can balance their private lives with their work-related duties. As an individual, it is necessary to identify personal strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and any other relevant information that can make a person to perform better at workplace.
According to Sturges et al. (2004, 747), people who are successful in their careers always find ways of intertwining their hobbies and careers. This way, they find it easy to enjoy what they are doing in the workplace. Employers are interested in having employees who can take charge of their own career development.
In this essay, the researcher will conduct a critical review of academic articles about career-self management in order to determine its relevance in the current workplace environment.
Review of the Articles
Employees are the most important resources for any organization. They implement the policies developed by the owners of such organizations, and this means that any meaningful progress can only be made if they have the right skills.
According to the research by Guest and Liefooghe (2005, p. 830), career self-management as a concept has gained popularity over the years. In the current workplace environment, it has become relevant to look at an individual employee’s performance.
Issues such as performance contracts have gained massive popularity as the employers seek to determine the relevance of an individual employee in the specific assignment within various departments. The time when the performance would only be reviewed at the department and organizational levels is long gone.
Organizations are currently very keen on starting their reviews from the individual employee performance. This means that an individual must be in a position to meet the expectations of the employer in every assignment they are given.
Failure to meet the expectations of the employer may lead to dismissal, demotion or reduction of one’s earnings as per the terms and conditions set out in the performance contract.
This argument is also shared by Castaneda and Kolenko (2009, p. 102) who say that career self-management is as important to the employees as it is to the employers. For an individual to succeed in his or her career, setting out the priorities and finding ways of improving one’s performance is very critical.
The research article by Renn, Allen and Huning (2011, p. 41) identifies some of the steps that one should take in developing his or her career. The figure below shows the proposed steps towards becoming accomplished in any given career.
Source (Renn, Allen & Huning 2011, p. 42)
It is necessary to critically review the steps proposed above in order to determine their relevance in career self-management. According to Renn, Allen and Huning (2011, p. 42), the first step is to determine where one wants to go. This scholar says that career development is like a journey.
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The first thing before starting a journey is to define the destination. This will make it possible to make the appropriate plans that will make the journey successful. In the same way, the ability to achieve success in one’s career heavily relies on one’s ability to define what he wants to achieve in life.
After defining the desired career destination, the next important step is to identify the personal strengths and weaknesses that may have an impact in one’s life journey. It is a fact that the best way of managing external challenges starts with identifying the internal strengths and weaknesses.
This means that one should identify the areas that give him leverage over others in advancing the career. This may be one’s special skills or talents, level of education, communication skills, management skills, and easy access to the institutions of higher learning.
Identifying the strengths makes it easy to use them in order to gain a competitive edge over other firms. After defining the strengths, one should identify the weaknesses that may affect the ability to achieve desired success.
These weaknesses may be slow learning ability, limited educational levels, poor communication or management skills, low self-esteem, unsocial or antisocial behavior or such other related issues that may limit one’s career development.
The third step is to make a clear career development plan based on the identified strengths and weaknesses. This means that one should start by finding the ways through which personal strengths can be used to conquer personal weaknesses.
Weaknesses such as low self-esteem may affect one’s ability to make career progress it they are not taken care of at the right time.
A career development plan should outline how one plans to reach the set career destination. According to Renn, Allen and Huning (2011, p. 43), after using one’s strengths to conquer the weaknesses, the same strengths should be used to take the advantage of the external opportunities and managing threats.
External opportunities may be issues such as vacancies in higher offices, scholarships, on-job trainings, supportive management or workplace environment among others. These are the factors that may make one be successful in his or her career.
On the other hand, threats may involve issues such as unsupportive workplace environment, manipulative management, limited access to educational facilities, limited promotional avenues among others.
Despite these external environmental challenges, Gold and Fraser (2006, p. 560) say that one must find a way of achieving career success. The final step is to get closer to one’s goal. As time passes, one should make a commitment to move closer to his or her set career goals.
If the goal was to become a top manager in a given company, then one should continually seek to get the right qualifications for the position in terms of level of education, the required experience, special talents, and any other relevant factors that may make one be considered relevant for such a position.
It is important to note that having the right qualifications may not be enough. It will also be necessary to lobby for support from the relevant authorities and start making early progress from the current position to higher management positions within the firm.
According to Cappellen and Janssens (2010, p. 690), career self-management involves self rediscovery. In one’s life, it is possible to start in a wrong career. In fact, these scholars note that many people start on a wrong career path. This may be so because of wrong career choices that one made because of parental advices or lack of it thereof.
In such cases, it is common to find someone who had a great interest and a great career in music sacrificing such interests to become a doctor because parents and people around them think that it is the only way of being successful in life. The most important thing, as Cappellen and Janssens (2010, 701) say, will be to rediscover one’s self.
This self-rediscovery may involve identifying a career that makes one happy. Finding such a career early may make a big difference in enabling one to actualize the personal dreams. It also promotes self-drive in all that one does because of the interest one has in it.
Self-rediscovery may also involve identifying a hidden talent within oneself that may be helpful in advancing the current career. There is always something unique in oneself that may not be common in other people.
Finding ways of harnessing this uniqueness and turning it into a personal strength may just bring the difference that one desires in the career. Self-rediscovery can be achieved through various ways. According to Vos, Stobbeleir and Meganck (2009, p. 292), this may be achieved by advancing one’s academic levels.
Education always helps one to discover the personal attributes that may be beneficial to his or her career. Sometimes self-rediscovery may be achieved through self-assessment. Self-assessment is a process of critically reviewing the personal attributes and career issues that may have an impact in achieving career goals.
According to Vos, Stobbeleir and Meganck (2009, 295), it is important for one to know how to conduct self-assessment because it also affects the ability to focus one’s career.
Career assessment is another critical issue that Uhl-Bien and Graen (2008, p. 341) say should be conducted on a regular basis. The following diagram shows some of the issues to be looked at during the career assessment process.
As shown in the above diagram, the first stage in career self assessment is to define the career stage. One will always be at different stages in one’s career at different points in life. This may be the early stages of one’s career, middle stages, or advanced stages.
Defining the career stage, as Uhl-Bien and Graen (2008, p. 344) note, helps in defining how far one still has to go in order to achieve the desired objective. After understanding the career stage, it is necessary to set a clear focus.
Dries (2009, p. 544) puts this in a very clear manner by saying that focus involves having a clear memory about the past, understanding the present, and defining the future based on the past and present forces. It involves setting goals and sticking with them despite the challenges that may come in the process of trying to achieve them.
Understanding one’s attributes is also critical in assessing the career of an individual. These attributes may be the enhancers or inhibitors to the process of achieving the desired success. These may include the interpersonal skills that may enhance the ability to achieve better results in the workplace.
In many organizations, employees have their specific roles within the firm that are given to them based on their skills, levels of education, and personal interests. When choosing a role within the organization, it is necessary to choose a role that leads to the actualization of the set career objective.
For instance, accepting a role in the sales department when one’s desire is to become the chief financial officer may be choosing a wrong role. The choices that an individual make at the early stages in the career may influence the future outcome.
Career assessment also involves assessing the goals and objectives from time to time. Dries (2009, p. 547) notes that the dynamism in the workplace may reshape one’s career goals and objectives. At one moment, it is possible that an individual may realize that the set goal is irrelevant because of the environmental changes.
The initially set goal may be unrealistically high or low. Sometimes an individual may have a different view of what he wants to achieve in life as far as the career path is concerned. Regular review of the goals may help an individual to redefine them in a way that is relevant to the prevailing forces and personal interests.
After reviewing the goals, it would be necessary to review the core competencies. As Dries (2009, p. 545) says, when the destination is clear, the next issue will be to determine the capacity to achieve it.
Reviewing the core competencies makes it possible to understand the new skills and knowledge that a person has acquired through experience in working at a given place. It is also important to look at the miscellaneous issues or areas of concern that one has learnt in the process of working in a given organization
The article by Roper, Ganesh, and Inkson (2010, p. 675) is about the need to be in charge of your own career. This scholar says that one can become anything that he desires as long as one remains committed and focused to the set goals and objectives.
These scholars propose a comprehensive review of individuals in order to determine if they are actually in charge of the changes taking place their careers. This starts by understanding oneself. Motivational speakers always insist that the best way of achieving personal success is to start by defining who you really are based on various factors.
This is similar to the approach that these scholars have taken in defining how one can take control of his or her own career. The figure below shows that approached proposed by Roper, Ganesh, and Inkson (2010, p. 668).
Source (Roper, Ganesh & Inkson 2010, p. 668)
As shown in the above diagram, there are some persona attributes that one should understand in order to be in control of his or her own career. These include values, style, interests, professional-based skills, leadership skills, team skills, and business skills.
When defining these factors, one should be able to state the strengths of these attributes based on one’s own feelings.
According to Roper, Ganesh, and Inkson (2010, p. 664), what others think about you may not be very important because they may not understand some of the underlying attributes that have been suppressed because of a number of environmental factors.
What matters is what an individual thinks about himself, and how he believes that these feelings can be actualized. For instance, team skills may not necessarily be demonstrated by being very social. One can be very social, but lacks the ability to influence and direct a team.
On the other hand, an individual may be considered unsocial, but may have a very unique capacity to influence people in his team. The values of an individual may affect other attributes in various ways. These values may be defined by the socio-cultural or political environment within a given context.
These personal attributes will make it easy for one to take charge of his career. This starts by defining the profession that one has taken and the specific job that one does. This will then define the organization and finally the industry which one wants to build his career on within a given period.
Dries (2009, p. 547) focused on the individual development plan as an important aspect of career self-development. The scholar gives four steps that a person should take in the career development plan. The first step is the identification of all the relevant information about you.
This involves identifying the workplace priorities, personal and professional set of skills, and interests and preferences. The rationale of doing this is to ensure that an individual is able to identify the most appropriate career based on the personal interests.
The second step in career development plan is to gather information about the options available. Before choosing the right career path, it is always necessary be aware of the options available. In many cases, a person would come to realize about the available options when it is too late to make changes.
At this point, the only thing that such a person may do is to wish that he had known of the options at the right time. For this reason, a person should conduct a research and determine the possible career options and what they entail.
The scholar says that one should choose the career option that is in line with the personal attributes. The third step is to target the right employer. Career development plan should go as far as defining the right employer at a very early stage of career development.
Dries (2009, p. 556) observes that many people make mistakes when defining their targeted employers. They base their choices on the remunerations they expect from the employer and the popularity of the organization. However, this scholar says that the targeted employer should be the one that may create a room for career development.
Having information about the target employer makes it easy to start acquiring the skills necessary to be accepted in the selected organizations. It also makes a person develop close interests in monitoring the events in the organization that will make it possible to make an entry into it when an opportunity presents itself.
The last step is to develop an appropriate action plan based on the information gathered in the first three steps. The plan should outline how one seeks to use personal attributes to make a positive progress towards the preferred career choice. It should also outline the steps that one will make towards getting hired by the targeted employer.
Career self-management is very critical for an individual who seeks to achieve success in his career. As opposed to organizational career management, career self-management gives an individual the power and responsibility to manage his own career.
Although a person can be influenced by the external forces, especially the parents, to take a given path in his career, it is important to note that the ultimate outcome of one’s journey in a given career depends on his own desires. Career self-management involves various factors that revolve around an individual.
As shown in the above critical review of the literatures, it involves understanding of the personal strengths and weaknesses. It also involves getting to know about the environmental opportunities and strengths.
This way, it becomes possible to understand how one can use his strengths to conquer the weaknesses, overcome threats, and take advantage of the opportunities presented by the external forces in the environment.
List of References
Cappellen, T & Janssens, M 2010, Enacting global careers: Organizational career scripts and the global economy as co-existing career referents, Journal of Career Development, vol. 31. no. 5, pp. 687-706.
Castaneda, M & Kolenko, T 2009, Self-Management Perceptions and Practices: A Structural Equations Analysis, Journal of Organizational Behavior, vol. 20. no. 1, pp. 101-120.
Dries, N 2009, Development and validation of an objective intra-organizational career success measure for managers, Career Development International, vol. 30. no. 4, pp. 543-560.
Gold, M & Fraser, J 2006, Managing self-management: successful transitions to portfolio careers, Career Development Quarterly, vol. 16. no. 4, pp. 579-59.
Guest, D & Liefooghe, A 2005, ‘Managing the Career Deal: The Psychological Contract as a Framework for Understanding Career Management, Organizational Commitment and Work Behavior’, Career Development Internal, vol. 26. no. 7, pp. 821-838.
Renn, R, Allen, D & Huning, S 2011, Empirical examination of the individual-level personality-based theory of self-management failure, Journal of Vocational Behavior, vol. 32. no. 1, pp. 25-43.
Roper, J, Ganesh, S & Inkson, K 2010, Neoliberalism and knowledge interests in boundaryless careers discourse, Journal of Career Assessment, vol. 24. no. 4, pp. 661-679.
Sturges, J, Guest, D, Conway, N & Davey, K 2004, ‘A Longitudinal Study of the Relationship between Career Management and Organizational Commitment among Graduates in the First Ten Years at Work’, Journal of Career Development, vol. 23. no. 6, pp. 731-748.
Uhl-Bien, M & Graen, G 2008, Individual Self-Management: Analysis of Professionals’ Self-Managing Activities in Functional and Cross-Functional Work Teams, Journal of Vocational Behavior, vol. 41. no. 3, pp. 340-350.
Vos, A, Stobbeleir, K & Meganck, A 2009, The Relationship between Career-Related Antecedents and Graduates’ Anticipatory Psychological Contracts, Journal of Career Development, vol. 24. no. 3, pp. 289-298.