Career Competencies for Career Success

By Kuijpers, Marinka A. C. T.; Schyns, Birgit et al. | Career Development Quarterly, December 2006 | Go to article overview
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Career Competencies for Career Success


Kuijpers, Marinka A. C. T., Schyns, Birgit, Scheerens, Jaap, Career Development Quarterly


This article addresses the general question as to which competencies employees need to possess in order to engage in self-management in their career development. The authors distinguished and operationalized 6 career factors and competencies of self-management in career development. A quantitative study was performed using 1,579 employees in 16 Dutch companies to investigate the relationship between career competencies and career success. The results indicate that, among others, the factors career control and networking are strongly associated with career success. The results are discussed with respect to the facilitation organizations can provide for their employees' career actualization.

Career development is a field that is becoming increasingly relevant for both employees and employers. Economic and technological developments have resulted in working careers becoming more unpredictable due to changing work opportunities and shifts in labor. A permanent job with one employer, preferably for the entire span of a person's working life, can no longer be considered the normal work pattern. At present, career opportunities tend to be seen in the light of employability (e.g., van Dam, 2004), recognizing that career development frequently goes beyond the boundaries of one organization (so-called boundaryless careers; Arthur, 1994). The notion of a traditional career, chiefly determined by an employee's preliminary training and by opportunities provided by employers, has shifted to the concept of a changing career, largely guided by the employee him- or herself. This change toward employee self-management in career development fuels interest in the personal dispositions th.it could explain why this type of self-management goes well for some people, but not for others. In this context, we find increasing use of the general term employee competencies. Often lacking, however, is a more specific understanding of which competencies are actually relevant for career development. The need for further research on this matter is underlined by the fact that career competencies are now being mentioned more frequently in national policy documents on employability, as well as in the context of policies and programs in educational and labor organizations. According to Houdreaux (2001) and Savickas (2003), studies with practical relevance that go beyond the traditional focus of career development are needed. Thus, our study focuses on the association between career competencies and career success.

Career Competencies

Career development can be understood as an enumeration of consecutive jobs and training. In line with demands of the modern labor market, there is increased emphasis on the employee's active role and level of involvement with respect to his or her career. This is reflected in concepts such as personal initiative (Frese, 2001), employ-ability (e.g., van Dam, 20041, or preparedness to change (Schyns, 2004}. Considering this element of self guidance, career competencies could be seen as a person's self-management of his or her working and learning experiences in order to achieve desired career progress. Career development is taken as active career-actualization, which we define as the realization of personal goals and values in one's career vis-à-vis the facilitation and constraining conditions of the work situation.

Career competencies arc included in various research studies (Arthur, Inkson, & Pringle, 1999; Ball, 1997; Defillippi & Arthur, 1994; Eby, Butts, & Lockwood, 2003; Hackett, Betz, & Dow, 1985; Jones & Bergmann Lichtenstein, 2000). However, in these studies, the structure of career competencies remains unclear. On the basis of literature research, qualitative interviews, and factor analyses of data from a large sample, Kuijpers and Scheerens (2006) addressed this point and established a multidimensional assessment of career competencies. They distinguished between six career competencies: career-aciualization-ability, the degree to which employees arc capable of realizing personal goals and values in their working career; career reflection, reviewing one's own competencies with respect to one's career; motivation reflection, reviewing one's own desires and values with respect to one's career; work exploration, orientation toward matching one's own identity and competencies to the required values and competencies in a specific work situation; career control, career-related planning and influencing of learning and work processes; and networking, setting up contacts that are relevant for one's career (see also Kuijpcrs, 2005 ).

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