Concept of Career

A Career is a sequence of positions held by a person during the course of a life time. It comprises of a series of work related activities that provide continuity, order, and meaning in a person’s life. This is an objective view of a person’s career. There is also a subjective element in the concept of career. A career consists of the changes in values, attitudes and a motivation that occurs as a person grows older.

In both the perception the primary focus is on the individual. The underlying assumption is that a person can shape his destiny through a series of well planned and well timed positive moves. However, it must be stated here as a word of caution, mere planning does not ensure career success. A person’s career is shaped by many complex factors e.g. performance, education, experience, influential parents, caste links and a certain amount of luck. As Davis stated when people rely largely on luck, however, they seldom are prepared for the career opportunities that arise. Successful people identify their career goals, plan and then take action. For them luck occurs when opportunity meets are proportional.


Some of the important features of the term career may be stated thus:

1) A career develops over time: It covers objective conditions (such as jobs, duties, responsibilities) and also includes subjective reactions (such as enthusiasm, boredom)
2) It is the individual who ultimately must judge the success of his career. He must set his own criteria for success, and such criteria can be far ranging (e.g. pay, adventure, working with new people in new environment, helping others etc)
3) The important element in one’s career is experiencing psychological success which basically is, feeling a sense of personal accomplishment and fulfillment. Psychological success energizes our efforts and impels us to undertake new challenges and scale new heights that foster our growth over time
4) The typical career of a person today would probably include many different positions, transitions and organizations more so than is in the past when employees were less mobile and organizations more stable as employers.

Important Terms in career planning:

Before proceeding further, let’s look in to the terms that are commonly used in career planning :

1) Career: a career is all the jobs that one does during one’s working life.
2) Career goals: Future positions one tries to reach as part of a career.
3) Career cycle: The stages through which a person’s career evolves
4) Career paths: These are flexible lines of progression through which employees typically move.
5) Career anchors: They are distinct patterns of self perceived attitudes motives and values that guide and stabilize a person’s career after several real world experiences and feedback.
6) Career progression: Making progress in one’s career through a series of right moves.
7) Career planning: The process by which one selects career goals and the path of those goals.
8) Career development: The personal actions one undertakes to achieve a career plan.
9) Career planning and development: Extending help to employees to form realistic career goals and the opportunities to realize them.
10) Career counseling: The process of advising employees on setting career goals and assisting them to find suitable career paths.
11) Career management: It is the continuing process of setting career goals, formulating and implementing strategies for reaching the goals and monitoring the results
12) Mid career crisis: The period occurring between the mid thirties and mid forties during which people often make a major reassessment of their progress relative to their original career goals and ambitions. Reality shock: A period that may occur at the initial career entry stage when the new employee’s high job expectation confronts the reality of a boring unchallenging job.
13) Plateauing: A condition of stagnating in one’s current job.
14) Mentor: someone who extends informal career advice and assistance.
Source: HRM