“Which career is the best for me? How do I decide what path to take?”
Different age groups, subcultures and academic attainment brackets believe in various ways of determining career paths. Career guidance professionals at school or from private groups also advocate certain ways of thinking on this particular concern. This variety can sometimes seem daunting especially when career-seekers are faced with the questions, “Which career is the best for me? How do I decide what path to take?” In order to bring some clarity to this clutter, we’ve put these approaches together into 5 different schools of thought on career discernment & development. In no particular order, these are:
- The competency-based approach – This school of thought relies much on aptitude and personality assessments to determine how the career-seeker will fit in the workforce. Skills, innate & acquired expertise, and personal character are gauged to determine the best-fitting career for a given individual. An example of a mechanism within this school of thought is the National Career Assessment Examination (NCAE), which measures aptitudes of test-takers and matches them up with career categories.
- The industry requirements approach – According to this school of thought, the state authority must have an active hand in directing youngsters to study and aim for careers that are severely under-staffed. The aim of this approach is to breathe new life into the ailing industries facing a lack of manpower. Excellence in the assigned career is not a choice or goal here, but a requirement. This may be observed under more strict or severe governments across the world and throughout history.
- The personal choice approach – What this school of thought promotes is the freedom of choice for each aspiring professional to build up a specialization. Under this system is the belief that individuals who are pursuing the career they really want will be inspired to excel and succeed without much further encouragement or intervention. An applicable motto here is “It’s not work any more if you love what you’re doing.” Most school-based guidance programs that promote self-actualization and the realization of one’s aspirations are using this approach.
- The personal mission approach – This school of thought resembles personal choice, but instead of asking aspiring professionals what they want to be, they are asked a deeper set of questions: “What do you want to do for society? What societal problems do you wish to address? What kind of profession will you pursue to achieve the impact you want to have on the world?” This way of thinking is relatively new to guidance professionals and can be seen as a results-based alternative to personal choice. It engenders a sense of adherence to a higher purpose than just building a career for oneself.
- The dynamic developmental approach – Through this school of thought, we are advised that each person has a set of strengths and areas for improvement. These can be brought up to higher levels of competency through talent registry & training initiatives, in order to help alleviate the individual’s concern that she or he is not competent enough for the profession they choose. This element of selection resembles personal choice, but this approach also considers possible promotions, career changes or multiple professional spheres within one’s career. For example, it may apply to an employee who has been promoted from a frontline staff position to a leadership and management position. Those 2 positions are very different in their skillset requirements. Another example is a person who wishes to teach but who may also want to conduct research and offer consultative services at the same time. Those 3 spheres do not always require the same skills, and this perspective is how the dynamic developmental approach enables individuals to aspire to a multi-faceted and well-rounded career.
With these different approaches that can be used to determine one’s career, we definitely have a lot of thinking to do. Keep in mind that we can always ask ourselves the questions specific to each approach even in the absence of a career guidance professional. What matters is that we are honest with the answer. That honesty will ultimately pave our way to a career that maximizes our boundless potential and satisfies our very being.