Career Guidance Theories

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Career Guidance Theories

Career guidance theories provide insight into how individuals make career decisions and what influences impact on those decisions throughout the course of a person’s life. Most have derived from the different branches of psychology; personality, developmental, cognitive and social. More contemporary theories however consider the sociological influences on career journeys too. Most acknowledge the role of career guidance, although differ on opinion as to when, how often and the resulting impact of guidance. Career guidance practice is informed by theory. Theories are used to devise policies over careers education and guidance and to provide tools for evaluation and amendment of practices.

In 1908 Parsons developed what is considered the first theory of vocational guidance. The ‘talent matching’ approach. Parsons based this theory on three ideas; (a) people are different, (b) jobs are different and (c) by studying both individual and jobs, it should be possible to match them up. This theory implies it is possible to measure individual talents and the skills required for particular jobs, assumes people perform best when matched to a job suited to their abilities and therefore assumes that career decision making is of a rational nature.

Others have developed this theory, sometimes referred to as ‘person-environment fit’ or trait/factor further. Rodger (1952) developed a ‘seven point plan’ with matching at the centre of the process. He devised a set of questions under seven attributes to be asked at interview. The seven attributes are:

1. Physical characteristics 2. Attainments 3. General intelligence 4. Special aptitudes 5. Interests 6. Disposition 7. Circumstances

Jobs are also evaluated against the seven attributes and a ‘best match’ results.

During the 1960s and 70s Holland also…...

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