What is career development?

“Career development involves one’s whole life, not just occupation. As such, it concerns the whole person… More than that, it concerns [the individual] in the ever-changing contexts of [the individual’s] life. The environmental pressures and constraints, the bonds that tie [the individual] to significant others, responsibilities to children and aging parents, the total structure of one’s circumstances are also factors that must be understood and reckoned with. In these terms, career development and personal development converge. Self and circumstances — evolving, changing, unfolding in mutual interaction — constitute the focus and the drama of career development.” (Wolfe & D.A. Kolb, 1980, p 1–2)

Below are some definitions related to our funding interests.

The process of working with people to help them assess their skills and make critical and informed career development decisions, as well as helping them to use various tools—résumés, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles—to accomplish their career goals. In general, career coaching tends to be a solution-oriented approach, which involves working with clients to see what concrete steps they can take to achieve their career objectives. It helps people to assess their professional situations with a greater degree of honesty.

A competency is more than just knowledge or skills (‘the what’), a competency is the ability to tap into the dynamic relationship between a series of skills or different areas of knowledge and apply them in a variety of complex and unpredictable situations (‘the how’). For example, according to the OECD “the ability to communicate effectively is a competence that may draw on an individual’s knowledge of language, practical IT skills and attitudes towards those with whom he or she is communicating.”

Refers to an individual or group process which emphasizes self-awareness and a better understanding of the world of work. It helps people to develop a satisfying and meaningful life/work direction by helping them make career, educational and life decisions. Career counselling is used to guide learning, work and transition decisions, as well as to manage responses to changing work and learning environments over the lifespan. Its predominant ethos is one of facilitation rather than of advice-giving. Career counselling relationships vary according to need.

The lifelong process of managing learning, work, leisure, and transitions in order to move toward a personally determined and evolving preferred future. There are a number of factors that influence career development, including interests, abilities, values, personality, background, and circumstances. Career development encompasses the development of the whole person and is more than just deciding on a major or a job; It really is a lifelong process, meaning that throughout life a person changes, situations change, and every individual must continually make career and life decisions.

The process of reflecting on self and learning about the world of work, identifying and exploring potentially satisfying occupations and their corresponding training and educational requirements, and developing an effective strategy to realize your goals, as a basis for making career-life choices over the lifespan.

Mentoring, in a career context, is a partnership between two people (mentor and mentee), normally working in a similar field or sharing similar experiences — for example, an experienced teacher might mentor a student teacher or beginning teacher. The mentor shares his/her/their knowledge and experience in an area with the person being mentored. A mentor is a guide who can help the mentee to find the right direction and who can help them to develop solutions to career issues. The mentorship relationship also helps the mentee becoming more self-aware and more self-confident. It is a helpful relationship based upon mutual trust and respect.

For more information on definitions and terminology, visit CERIC’s Glossary of Career Development.