Career Adaptability, Resilience, and Life Satisfaction among Italian and Belgian Middle School Students

By Santilli, Sara; Grossen, Silke et al. | Career Development Quarterly, September 2020 | Go to article overview

Career Adaptability, Resilience, and Life Satisfaction among Italian and Belgian Middle School Students


Santilli, Sara, Grossen, Silke, Nota, Laura, Career Development Quarterly


Globalization, internationalization, job instability, rapid progression of technological developments, and past and current economic crises all have contributed to drastic changes in the world of work. Careers have become unpredictable, and the world of work has become less clearly defined, creating significant challenges for adolescents making career decisions and coping with career transitions (Savickas et al., 2009). Consequently, investing in movement capital, such as human capital, social capital, self-awareness, and adaptability, becomes more critical. Individuals must wisely invest in and seize work opportunities (Guichard, 2015). Updating knowledge and social capital, networking, developing and following personal career plans, and being able to adapt to the changing environment have become essential in the current world of work.

To cope with the uncertainty and unpredictability of the future in the current economic situation and environment, a growing need for positive variables such as hope, optimism, and resilience is called for, particularly among adolescents, who are at a critical time in their personal and professional development (Ginevra et al., 2018; Santilli et al., 2016). It is crucial to help young people prepare for and feel positive about their future, consider multiple career options, gain support to develop positive life trajectories, and cope with socioeconomic conditions related to uneasiness, discomfort, and confusion (Santilli et al., 2014). Life design offers a model for addressing the 21st-century career development challenges facing youth today.

Life Design and Positive Psychology

The life design approach aims at providing answers to the 21st-century world of work and its unpredictable and unclear career paths and multiple career transitions (Savickas et al., 2009). The life design approach views constructing the self through social relationships and envisions work as a lifelong, holistic, contextual, and preventive process (Savickas et al., 2009). It emphasizes the need to anticipate, explore, and cope with multiple career transitions; to support people to become experts in coconstruction and life design processes; to be hopeful and optimistic about one's future; and to develop career adaptability, which is an essential resource for managing frequent career and life transitions (Santilli et al., 2014; Savickas et al., 2009). Career adaptability and positive variables such as resilience are useful for coping with uncertainty, difficulties, and change and therefore play a crucial role in the life design approach.

Career Adaptability

Career adaptability is a psychosocial construct that consists of four problem-solving strategies or resources for coping with developmental tasks and transitions: concern, control, curiosity, and confidence. Concern entails being oriented to the future and being aware of and making plans for imminent transitions, accompanied by an optimistic and hopeful attitude toward the future. Control involves owning the future and feeling capable of making mature and adequate career-related decisions. Curiosity entails exploring the environment; the self; and one's past, present, and desired future. Confidence involves trusting one's problem-solving skills and trusting oneself to be able to effectively cope with career-related obstacles, challenges, and barriers. Research has investigated predictors and outcomes of career adaptability (e.g., Duffy, 2010; Hartung & Taber, 2008; Hirschi, 2009; Santilli et al., 2014; Savickas & Porfeli, 2012). Career adaptability is related to different aspects of life, such as personality (Skorikov & Vondracek, 2007), emotional intelligence (Coetzee & Harry, 2014), career context and work engagement (Rossier et al., 2012), life satisfaction (Malinauskas & Vaicekauskas, 2013; Santilli et al., 2014), and optimism (Rottinghaus et al., 2005).

Young people start preparing for and working on their careers long before they engage in actual work behavior (Hartung et al. …

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