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Career Theories

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In the nowadays world, which is full of competition and high technologies, the success and effectiveness are not only the economical terms, but they are also studied by the psychological science. In order to be successful and to occupy high positions in social and economical life, the approach towards career, its development and improvement should be well-grounded and in several cases the support from the professional psychologist is needed. That is required not by the weakness of person of ones’ inability to make the life choice, but such approach is also supported by the need of evaluating the best suitable life position and development in the nowadays world, which offers a variety of options for self development and self realisation.

This research paper is dedicated to the analysis of the four career theories, which enable individual to organise ones’ professional development and to implement the core personal features into the practice in the most effective way.

First, the social cognitive career theory developed by Robert Len, Steven Brown and Gail Hackett and is based on the following key success factors as self efficiency, outcome, expectations and personal goals would be taken in consideration.

Secondly, the integrative life planning theory, developed by L. Sunny Hansen, and based on the core principles of social justice, social change, connectedness, diversity, spirituality and integrative life planning inventory would be taken in account.

The third aspect of the research paper would be dedicated to the vocational personalities and work environment theory, developed by John Holland. This theory is oriented to the trait factor career choice and based on the following issues: congruence, consistency, differentiation and vocational identity.

The last career theory, which would be outlined in the scopes of this research, is the learning theory of the career counselling - developed by John Krumboltz. This theory is tending to the social learning and to the career choice development - the factors, which are required in the nowadays world for achieving the success. The key features of this theory are learning experience, self observation, generalisations, worldview generalisations, task approach sills, actions and planned happenstance. 

Social Cognitive Career Theory

As it has been stated above, the Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) has been developed by the following scholars- Hackett, Lent and Brown. As the basis for the theory development, the work of Albert Banduram, which investigates the self efficiency, has been taken. This scientific work has been expended in the light of making choice, development of interest and performance issues. SCCT as the approach towards career development, considers the following personal variables - the goals of individual, outcome expectations and beliefs in self efficiency. Such variables as human ability, demographic, social values and the environment are also taken in account while developing the model of the SCCT theory. (Milton, 1989)

Additional attention is paid to the efficacy and outcome expectations, which are theorised in the SCCT in order to achieve the interrelation of these variables with the development of the interest influence. The SCCT includes several building blocks: self efficacy, outcome expectations and personal goals (Swanson, 1998).

Self efficiency implies the beliefs of the individual, needed to be successful. That is why the primary sources of the self efficiency include the following issues- physiological and affective states, vicarious learning, social persuasion and finally- personal performance and accomplishment (Spencer, 2005).

Outcome expectations are represented as beliefs, concerning the outcome of carrying our particular behaviors and personal goals determine the personal engagement to the selected type of activity or to the particular outcome and its impact.

As the key components of the SCCT model it is possible to outline the following issues. First of all, SCCT id the model, directed to the interest development; secondly, human beings are attracted by such activities, which they feel they are able to perform and to succeed of such performance; the key interrelations, expected by the theory are between the human attitudes and values outcome expectations and the self efficacy. Finally, the concepts of gender ad race as the disputable issues are considered in the light of sharing the experience between the representatives of the different social groups.

While taking in account the fact that the SCCT is the choice model, it is important to pay additional attention that its key purpose is the career choice assistance, which implies the following stages - goal setting, practical implementation of the actions, directed to the goal achievement, attaining of such performance level, which would assist in further career directions and behavior determining (Milton, 1989).

The second fact is that the SCCT is the performance model - that is why it is deeply interrelated with the behavior quality and persistence.

As the key principles of the model, it is possible to outline the following issues: the key reason of the possible career choices elimination implies the cases when the self efficiency beliefs or the outcome expectations are fault. There is a general trend that the greater the barriers for the career occupation, the less likely people are tending to achieve such careers. Finally, in the case if the fault self efficacy and outcome expectations are modified, the more probability of new successful experiences acquiring occurs (Spencer, 2005).

It is possible to represent the SCCT in the light of the three core stages for the goal achievement: identifying the foreclosed occupational options; carrying out the analysis of the barrier perceptions and modifying the self efficacy beliefs.

Integrative life planning theory

The key aspects of the Integrative Life Planning theory (ILP), developed by L. Sunny Hansen are the following: focusing on the adult career development, developing the new worldview, diversity issues addressing; global integration; orientation on the personal agency and finally, the additional attention is paid to the connections issue.

It is possible to outline the following core assumptions of the ILP. First of all, the changes in the knowledge require the new approach towards knowing information and its treatment. Secondly, author develops the critical approach towards the bordering of the types of the self knowledge and societal knowledge; the last two assumptions of the ILP imply the consideration of the career professionals in the light of the change agents and the importance of connections (Prediger, 1981).

The next stage of the ILP investigation implies the following career development tasks, assumed by the theory. First of all, there is a need of finding such work, which requires the practical implementation of the changes in the global context of this notion; secondly, human likes should be weaved into a considerable and meaningful whole; the additional attention in the career development should be paid to integrating the family values with the work requirements; such values as pluralism and diversity are to be popularised; the personal transitions and implementation of the changes into the organisational structure should be well-managed. Final task of the theory implies the deep investigation and exploration of the human life purpose and spirituality (Hansen, 1997).

The last issue, concerning the IPL, discussed in the scopes of this research are the intervention implications of the integrative planning theory. Focusing on the developmental tasks of the theory should be based on the following issues: first of all, deep understanding of the set task is required, secondly, the interrelation been the core complements of the task should be seen. The third aspect t is the prioritizing of the tasks in accordance with ten personal needs and values  and the last core value of the of the ILP theory outcomes implies the teach approach towards life planning which is, in turn, based on such components as connectedness, community and wholes (Spencer, 2005).

Vocational personalities and work environment theory

The theory has been created by John Holland in 1959. Author has based the theoretical achievement on the own experience of the vocational counselor (Holland, 1959).

This theory approaches to understanding of the human nature and environment in their vocational context. First of all, there should be a representation of the distinct interests and values and that is why author has outlined six types of individuals. Secondly, there is a need of dividing the environments into the six categories, which are the same as the individuals’ types. As a result, the individuals are to seek such environment, which suits their needs and life expectation and may be applied as the best possible solution for the self development and self realisation. In the case if the chosen environment does not meet the requirements of the individual, there is a possibility of change occurring. In such case there are two solutions for the individual- to seek another environment for the self realisation or to take some life interests and values from the chosen one (Holland, 1959).

Author has defined six core themes for the description of the personality in the light of one’s personal features and considers the environment as the background for the career and vacation. These themes are the following: investigative, realistic, artistic, social, conventional and enterprising (Spokane, 1996).

All these six types of personality and environment are applied by the author for evaluating the best possible solution for the life in the light of professional activity.

The Holland’s theoretical approach is widely applied by such instruments as Strong Interest Inventory and Self Directed Search.  According to the theory, the best possible solution for the life development may be achieved only in the case if the environment and the personal features of individual match each other. In other words, it is possible to consider such achievement as the congruency (Harmon, 2000). In the case if there is no match between the personality and environment, such situation development would lead to the incongruity and as a result, the need for change would occur - whether the environment would be adapted to the individual requirements or not, it would be radically changed, because the initial personal need for being in the comfortable environment would be achieved on the subliminal level (Holland, 1992). 

The theory, developed by Holland is widely applied in different areas of human activities. As an example, it is possible to consider its interrelation with the higher educational system. This theory is applied by the academic and career advisers and counsellors in order to explain the key aspects of carer search. Also, such tool as Strong Interest Inventory (SII), is applied for the exploration process, because it offers the useful information, related to the career opportunities, which may meet the personal needs of individual (Evans, 1998).

Learning theory of the career counselling

While developing the theory, author has made an emphasis that there are two sources for getting the information -through the process of observation of from the own life experience. Author has outlined the four factors, which make their impact on the career development: initial genetic endowments and special features of the individual, which set the scopes of the individual career opportunities.

The second factor implies the environmental conditions and the current events in the social life. These factors cannot be controlled by the individual and more than that, some events assist developing of the special skills and abilities in the professional activity (Whiteley, 1984).

The third factor is the learning experience, which implies the instrumental and associative learning experience and as a result, individual formats the negative and positive approached towards the pair of previously neutral situations (Hansen, 1997).

The last aspect implies the task approach skills. As a result of the above listed factors it is possible to consider the following options of the learning theory of the career counselling practical application: the possibility of expanding the capabilities and interests of the individual; opportunity for preparation and changing the work tasks; meeting the human need of being empowered for taking some actions; providing the career practitioners with the extended role (Bimrose, 2011).


To sum up, it is important to take in consideration the key factors of the professional success of the individual. The vocational personalities and work environment theory is oriented on the trait factor of the individual and on ones’ career choice. At the same time learning theory of the career counseling takes in account the social learning and career choice development- as the key purposes if the individuals’ professional development. Social cognitive career theory is oriented on the development and social cognitive career choice. And the integrative life planning theory makes the contextual career choice and adjustment as the key purposes of the counselling and psychological assistance in career choice.

All the above listed theories apply different tools for the goal achievement- some of them are oriented in integrative processes between the individual and society, others are oriented to the outlining of the key special features of the personality and their practical application - for example, the vocational personalities and work environment theory implies the com0lkete adaptation of the personal features of the individual to the environment, which meets all the need and requirements of the individual for ones’ professional development in comfortable environment.

To sum up, it is important to outline the integrative feature for all above listed theoretical approaches towards career - its choice and development - the individual should be completely satisfied with the type of activity one is performing because otherwise one would be tending to change it. That is why career counseling has become being an important part of the career choice process, because the psychological approach towards solving this problem may assist the individual in understanding of one’s own inner needs and to define the direction for the personal development.

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