Career management is the lifelong process of investing resources to achieve career goals for everyone. Career management is not a singular event but a continuing process that is a necessity for adapting to the changing demands of the 21st century economy.

We have probably heard the term “career management” in the early phase of our work life. Career management uses the concepts similar to good financial management, to disciplined investment, made on a regular basis and implies a greater return. We have also probably heard that in the future we need to be responsible for our careers. But what career management is and how we do it!

Among many definitions of career management problems there are some theoretical issues which help to understand and present the importance of these problems for everyone. Edgar Schein identified eight patterns which determine the spheres of career management problems: autonomy/independence, security/stability, technical/functional competence, general managerial competence and entrepreneurial creativity, service to a cause, pure challenge, and life style. The relative importance of each of these patterns to an individual will determine the career choices that they make. These patterns are representing some certain anchors as the behavior and mentality models. For example, individuals anchored by autonomy/independence would resist joining a traditional organization and be more likely to become independent professionals or entrepreneurs, or to join an organization that offers them high levels of autonomy. Alternatively, individuals anchored by technical/functional competence desire to improve their craft, and are attracted to roles that allow them to emphasize the technical side of their work. The most important function of these career anchors in career management is the recognition that straying from the anchors will usually result in unhappiness. Focus on the intrinsic components of a career rather than the extrinsic characteristics (salary, social status and so on). So, these patterns as the career anchors must also be considered in relation to the current environmental trends. Some anchors are better adapted to the emerging career opportunities than others. Many individuals have a technical/functional anchor. These individuals may become the independent professionals who contract their expertise to other organizations. The risk is that the expertise will become obsolete. Consequently, the importance of continual lifelong learning is underscored. Individuals with autonomy/independence anchors will find their anchors congruent with current environmental trends. Gaining an understanding of our anchors is critical to understanding ourselves and assessing our opportunities in the current environment. Let’s describe the above-mentioned patterns of career management anchors and give their short definitions. Autonomy/Independence desires work situations that provide maximum freedom to independently pursue career interests; entrepreneurial creativity motivates by the desire to create and develop new products and services. General management competence can be motivated by the opportunity to develop and use interpersonal and problem-solving skills to climb to general management levels. Job security concerns with long-run stability and security of employment and benefits. The other anchor – life style – means to integrate personal, family and career needs and to maintain flexibility. Pure challenge is motivated by the desire to overcome the odds, solve unsolved problems, and win out over competitors. Service-dedication – uses interpersonal and helping skills in the service of others. Finally, technical/functional anchor is intrinsically motivated by the work itself, its technical aspects, and the desire for enhanced technical competence and credibility [12].

In general, the career anchor patterns mentioned above are named to settle any career management problems and to provide the “career success cycle” which involves setting goals, exerting effort, attaining goals, and feeling successful. Successful feelings build self-esteem and lead to the formulation of more challenging goals. So the cycle can be repeated. If success is not achieved a negative cycle of psychological failure is created, resulting in loss of self-esteem. Career setbacks are expected. However, the negative effect of a career setback on self-esteem may be greater than the damage to the career itself. The patterns of success and self-esteem differ between individuals, depending on the stage in their life cycle and the nature of their goals. Early in a career, the establishment of success patterns is crucial. Consequently, individuals must carefully consider their definition of success and differentiate it from society’s definition and what they are capable of achieving. Nathaniel Branden notes that an individual’s ability to develop self-esteem originates from an ability to act congruently with their underlying persona, desires and needs. Success in the pursuit of false goals will not create the career success cycle outlined above [5].

Finally, the other important problem in career management is the past success which can become a significant barrier to future learning if an individual becomes captive of their past approaches and strategies. Environmental and personal stresses must be approached with a commitment to questioning, learning and continued development, rather than an unconscious commitment to simply employing techniques that worked in the past. So, each of career management patterns will both serve and limit.

There are several species of career management metaphors, such as climbing, pyramid, timetable or tournament which determine several problems of career management. If you are competing for a promotion, then a tournament image may be helpful. Similarly, a sense of timetable is important if you intend on progressing to the position as president of a multinational. But, if you wish to become a leading expert in a particular area, a timetable loses much of its meaning as it is difficult to define the point at which one becomes the most knowledgeable person in the world and how to chart that progress. One of the most common images still held today is that of a career as a ladder or pyramid, symbolizing career progress. In the new job environment, this pattern no longer holds as the traditional assumptions concerning careers are invalid. Consequently, the metaphor becomes increasingly blurred. These competencies may be applied in three situational areas: leadership, management and operational. The situational areas relate closely to levels in an organizational hierarchy. Leadership provides the sense of direction and obtains resources; management provides the planning, organizing, and the operational area focuses on the “doing” of the task or the actual implementation [3; 9].

To be competitive in today’s job market you can adopt one of three career strategies [2]:

  1. Continue with current skills, but perform them more efficiently;
  2. Reengineer your skills and continuously improve;
  3. Develop new skills and competencies either in depth or breadth.

In the first case the risk is that others will do similar things, lessening the value of your skills. The second strategy model allows adding new values to your skill set and becoming “better”. And, in the third case, you can establish distinction which also adds value to your services.

These strategies form general trends of career development. They are useful only if they reflect who you are. Although many people believe they have self-awareness, few have put this understanding into words, quantified it, assessed it in the face of experience, and learned from it. By consciously articulating your understanding of yourself, you will be better able to assess the fit between you, the career opportunity and the environment. Further, if your assessment proves inaccurate, you will be better able to consciously learn from the experience and refocus. Alternatively, if your assessment proves accurate, then your understanding of yourself will be validated and you will be better able to move into the future.

Although the tactics will vary, career management focuses on two key investment assets to manage throughout our working years, our personal lifelong learning and our network of relationships [10].

Lifelong learning helps us to understand how much of our day-to-day work is now based around technology. Computers and other scientific advancements have radically altered the way in which we conduct work. How well we are able to adapt to these ongoing innovations will be directly related to how current we keep our knowledge and skills.

Network of relationships has become an increasingly critical asset. Not only do our relationships help us accomplish our day-to-day tasks with colleagues, vendors, customers and competitors, these relationships will be the source of information about how fields and industries are evolving. We also have relationships outside of our work environments that may be affiliated with our hobbies, children, and spiritual or community networks. These personal and professional relationships will transcend specific companies, industries and communities. How we interact, respond and connect in all our relationships will impact our present performance and future opportunities.

Keeping connected and knowing how to build good relationships are more important than ever before. These skills can be developed in applied communication courses, mastering contact management software, effective listening and genuine desire to get to know people better.

Lifelong learning and relationship management form the backdrop of successful career management. Creating a vision and plan are also essential to guiding informed investment decisions and establishing annual goals. The career vision we establish should be broad enough to be flexible, but specific enough to be actionable. This career vision, built on a profile of our unique traits, directs our choices to develop what we need to be satisfied and be able to successfully contribute in different work environments over the years.

Besides lifelong learning and relationship management education is becoming increasingly critical to career success. Until recently, education preceded practical experience. Now, the popularity of concurrent completion of education and practical experience is growing. For example, universities offer programs which combine education with practical experience and many organizations are recognizing the importance of formal training [6].

In addition to a base of education and experience, effective career management requires an analysis of changes in the job environment and an ability to adapt to meet the changing needs of organizations.

Given the organizational changes that have occurred in recent years (downsizing, delayering, decentralization, reorganization, cost-reduction, IT innovation, competency measurement, and performance related measurement), and their potential negative psychological impacts (anxiety, lowered self-esteem, competitive behaviors, frustration, stress, lowered self-efficacy, and low trust behaviors), a positive framework is required for approaching the future.

Nicholson offers a positive alternative for career management based on: teamwork; the development of competencies; payment based on outputs; a contract of employability and flexibility; and a move to self-managed careers [10].

Career management is the combination of structured planning and the active management choice of our own professional careers.  The outcome of successful career management should include personal fulfillment, work/life balance, goal achievement and financial security.

There are many definitions by management scholars of the stages in the managerial process [1]. The following classification system with minor variations is widely used:

  1. Development of overall goals and objectives,
  2. Development of a strategy (a general means to accomplish the selected goals/objectives),
  3. Development of the specific means (policies, rules, procedures and activities) to implement the strategy, and
  4. Systematic evaluation of the progress toward the achievement of the selected goals/objectives to modify the strategy, if necessary.

The time horizon for the achievement of the selected goals or objectives – short term, medium term or long term – will have a major influence on their formulation.

  1. Short term goals (one or two years) are usually specific and limited in scope. Short term goals are easier to formulate.
  2. Intermediate goals (3 to 20 years) tend to be less specific and more open ended than short term goals. Both intermediate and long term goals are more difficult to formulate than short term goals because there are so many unknowns about the future.
  3. Long term goals (over 20 years), of course, are the most fluid of all. Lack of life experience and knowledge about potential opportunities and pitfalls make the formulation of long term goals/objectives very difficult. Long range goals/objectives, however, may be easily modified as additional information is received without a great loss of career efforts because of experience/knowledge transfer from one career to another.

Other elements of career management include career planning, which consists of strategic planning and marketing, self-assessment and self-development.

It is important to come up with your career planning as it gives you the much needed direction and makes it clear there where you see yourself in future [4]. A large proportion of our life is spent in achieving our career goals, thus it is very important to make sure that right steps were taken and correct planning was done in the early years of our life. There are very few lucky ones who are born with a clear mind and who knows what they want to do and where they see themselves in life ahead. But majority of us are not sure what we want from life and so it in very important to plan out things. Thus career planning is what gives your career and in some way your life, true meaning and purpose.

The process of career planning is also known as career development stages and career development model. These steps help you in planning your career and deciding about your future [7].

 Self-assessment is a process that helps you in assessing your skills, your potential, your strengths and your ability to fulfill your aims. It promotes your self-development and allows seeing what are the qualities and skills that are required to help you achieve your aims and goals [10].

The best way to come with an action plan is to come up with small goals for oneself. Once these small goals are achieved, we can see that how much close we are to our main aim and major goal. This small step acts as a path way to the main aim.

Once you are done with small goals and the main aim, the next step remains to start implementing your plans. For this task’s realization it is very helpful to know and use some ways of practical trainings such as “Road map”, “Self-description boxes”, “Characteristics if the ideal organizational climate” and so on [7; 10].

“Road map”

In the space below, draw the road map of your life. Put a check mark where you are today and identify the incidents and events that have been most important in your development. Include the detours, side-tracks, hills and valleys, dead-ends, stops, stations, autobahns, and high-speed connections that have characterized your journey to date. Consider the most influential people and critical incidents in shaping your identity, when you learned the most about yourself, what interests, themes, patterns and motivations have emerged and evolved over time. These help you to understand what gives you the greatest sense of meaning, fulfillment and satisfaction.

Extend your road map into the future. Consider alternative scenarios and how the patterns and themes will repeat.

Personal Road Map





“Self-description boxes”

Answer the question ‘Who Am I?’ in the boxes provided. Number the boxes – in order of importance. Consider the themes/patterns and motivations that link the responses and the indications of what give you a sense of meaning, fulfillment, and satisfaction. Cross out 2 or 3 of the boxes. Consider how you would feel if these characteristics were missing, including any insights into the underlying connections, themes/patterns and motivations.

I am a person who


I am a person who
I am a person who


I am a person who
I am a person who


I am a person who


 “Characteristics of the ideal organization climate”

For each of the climate dimensions consider what you would be looking for in an ideal organization to work for. Consider your reaction to situations where standards were very high versus absent; where individuals were held responsible versus a lack of accountability; and where activities were highly versus loosely structured.

Climate dimension Rating of dimension

(i.e., what is optimal for you?)










Low                 High

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

1 2 3 4 5 6 7


Recognizing the relationship between the organization and careers is fundamental to effective career management. In reality, individuals normally lack the ability to alter organizations in fundamental ways. Although an individual may have little impact on organizational climate, the impact of the climate on the individual is significant. Consequently, we need to understand the climate and how it will affect the organization’s view of us, and our view of ourselves and the organization. Finally, while traditional departments and functions are likely to co-exist with more future oriented ones for some time, they will be under increasing pressure to change.

This statement is very important to form and realize self-management skills reflecting your strengths and weaknesses and supporting these beliefs. Development of self-management skills promotes the most personally fulfilling and satisfying. Their awareness can build upon and develop your career management in future. So we are able to mean the general development trends of person’s career management through realization self-management skills such as abilities to make a decision and to effectively balance flexibility and firmness, openness to new ideas and integration skills, tolerance for stress and self-control [5].


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