Academic journal article Journal of Employment Counseling

Targeting Low Career Confidence Using the Career Planning Confidence Scale

Academic journal article Journal of Employment Counseling

Targeting Low Career Confidence Using the Career Planning Confidence Scale

Article excerpt

The authors describe the development and validation of a test of career planning confidence that makes possible the targeting of specific problem issues in employment counseling. The scale, developed using a rational process and the authors' experience with clients, was tested for criterion-related validity against 2 other measures. The scale produced a 6-factor structure that replicates common career planning models: Readiness to Make a Career Decision, Self-Assessment, Generating Options, Information Seeking, Deciding, and Implementing a Decision. Validity and reliability of the scale are discussed, along with suggestions for employment counseling practice.


Many adults lack the confidence, or the knowledge, to make difficult career decisions and to implement them through a focused, skilled job search. As a result, there is a body of literature devoted to the emotional blocks that make career planning problematic for many persons (Holland & Holland, 1977; Osipow, 1999). That literature falls under the rubric career indecisiveness, which can be defined as serious indecision, accompanied by excessive anxiety, about choosing an occupation (Hartman & Fuqua, 1982; Savickas, 1989). Career indecisiveness includes emotional paralysis around career planning, causing a person to stall and flounder in her or his career planning. That paralysis affects many other areas of a person's life, including mood, relationships, family, drug and alcohol use, and financial health. Because of this pervasive state, career indecisive individuals are likely to respond better to more intensive, longer lasting counseling techniques (Vondracek, Hostetler, Schulenberg, & Shimizu, 1990). One of the great challenges for professionals in the employment counseling field is to provide meaningful help to this population.

Employment counseling involves a series of interventions that are designed to assist clients in recognizing and resolving issues and concerns related to making and implementing career-related decisions. That task can include increasing clients' actual motivation to engage in employment searching; determining their career preferences; and, most of all, improving their job search skills. When these issues are not assessed and addressed, clients often do not follow through on employment searches.

Time and cost often do not allow employment counselors to probe indecisive clients about the nature of their hesitation. Being able to quickly and accurately assess a person's confidence about the major tasks of career planning and job search would give employment counselors a tool for exploring clients' barriers.

With the pervasive negative effect of career indecisiveness in mind and with the desire to create a valid and usable assessment tool for employment counselors, the Career Planning Confidence Scale (CPCS) was created and validated. The CPCS consists of six subscales, the last one of which specifically addresses confidence about engaging in job search behaviors. In this article, we describe the development, testing, and uses of the CPCS, with a specific focus on practical applications for employment counselors.

The purpose of our study was, therefore, to test the validity and reliability of the CPCS on a heterogeneous sample of college students who had (decided) or had not (undecided) chosen a career path. In the process, we sought to confirm or disconfirm the presence of relatively independent factors, or competence domains, in career planning confidence.

The CPCS is based on two sets of theories: decision-making and self-efficacy. In the first case, there is a large literature in which desirable career decision-making steps are described (Bell, Raiffa, & Tversky, 1988; Gati, Shenhav, & Givon, 1993; Gelatt, Varenhorst, Carey, & Miller, 1973; Katz, Norris, & Pears, 1977; Klein, 1993; Krumboltz & Baker, 1973; Parsons, 1909/1989; Peterson, Sampson, Reardon, & Lenz, 1996; Walsh & Osipow, 1988). …

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