Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Table or Circles: A Comparison of Two Methods for Choosing among Career Alternatives

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Table or Circles: A Comparison of Two Methods for Choosing among Career Alternatives

Article excerpt

A sample of 182 young adults about to choose their college major were randomly assigned to 2 guidance methods aimed at facilitating choosing among promising career alternatives: Table-for-Choice and Circles-for-Choice. Table-for-Choice was perceived as more effective, but individuals' confidence in their choice was higher in the Circles-for-Choice condition. More factors that serve to compare and evaluate the options were listed by participants in the Circles-for-Choice condition. No interaction emerged between the participant's decision-making style and the usefulness of the two methods. Both methods were perceived as more useful for participants who were already at the choice stage than for those who were only at the prescreening or the in-depth explorations stage.

Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions that people make during their lifetime. The career one pursues has significant implications for one's lifestyle, economic and social status, and emotional welfare (Gati & Tal, 2008). One of the salient difficulties individuals encounter during this decision-making process is lack of knowledge about how to make career decisions (Gati, Krausz, & Osipow, 1996). Decades of research into career choice has demonstrated the effectiveness of career counseling interventions (e.g., Brown & Ryan Krane, 2000; Tinsley, Tinsley, & Rushing, 2002; Whiston, Sexton, & Lasoff, 1998). In the present research, we propose and test a new method (Circles-for-Choice) for facilitating the comparison and evaluation of career options at the choice stage. The new method was tested using an experimental design with random assignment, and its usefulness was evaluated with both subjective and objective criteria, while attending to individual differences in clients' decision- making style and their career decision-making stage.

Stages in Career Decision Making

Making a career choice requires the consideration and the analysis of complex information. There are many occupational alternatives to choose from, and the information about each alternative is immense. Dividing the decision process into stages helps reduce anxiety and decrease the cognitive effort required for making the decision, while maintaining sufficient decision accuracy (Gati & Tal, 2008).

Gati and Asher (2001 ) proposed a three-stage framework for facilitating career decision making: the PIC model (/rescreening, ¿?-depth exploration, and choice) of career development. The goal of prescreening is to locate a small, manageable set of promising alternatives. During in-depth exploration, the promising alternatives are thoroughly investigated to verify that they indeed fit the individual and that the individual fits these alternatives. By the end of the in-depth exploration stage, the individual should have a fairly comprehensive picture of each alternative, including the prospects of actualizing it. In the choice stage, the alternatives on the short list are compared and evaluated to find the best alternative or to rank order them if actualization is uncertain. Career clients naturally collect and process career information in a way that is compatible with the PIC stages (Gati & Tikotzki, 1989); moreover, following the three-step process represented by the PIC model facilitates better career decisions (Kibari, 1999).

Various decision-making aids have been developed to facilitate the decision-making process. Interest inventories (e.g., Self-Directed Search [Holland, 1997]; www.self-directed-search.com) and career guidance systems (e.g., Making Better Career Decision [Gati, Kleiman, Saka, & Zakai, 2003]; mbcd.intocareers.org) can be used to facilitate the prescreening stage and help identify the client's vocational personality type and promising compatible alternatives. Information about occupational alternatives is easily accessible today (in print and electronic form) for use at the in-depth exploration stage. However, because little research has addressed the ways of facilitating the choice stage, this issue is the focus of the present study. …

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