by Aparna Bhalla, 2021 APCDA Conference Scholar
This summary is based on the article ‘’Career counselling with life design in a collectivist cultural context: An action research study’’ (Bhalla & Frigerio, 2020, p. 68) published in the Journal of National Institute for Career Education and Counseling (NICEC). The main aim of this action-research project was to explore the application of a US originated counselling approach i.e., Life-Design Career Counseling (LDC) with two mid-career professionals in India.
The research questions were derived from the aim and purpose of the study and framed to follow the Action Research (AR) cycle of plan-act-review-to plan again. These are: (RQ1) How can I conduct a successful life-design career counselling intervention? (RQ2) What are the strengths and weaknesses of the session? (RQ3) What are the recommendations for my services? Data consisted of client responses to lifeline activity, a career construction interview, and semi-structured feedback interviews.
Participants consisted of Jane (female 24 years old) who was managing her forty-year-old family-owned retail business of sports equipment. She enjoyed creative writing and sought to clarify whether she should pursue what she is ‘good at professionally’ or what she ‘enjoyed personally.’ Drew (male 25-year-old) was a culinary professional, who left his last role as head-chef due to dissatisfaction with the environment and supervisor. Drew had a history of not enjoying studies unless they ‘made sense, were logical and had practical application.’ Both participants were contemplating an international masters and sought clarity on their specialization.
The following four steps conducted over two client meetings constituted the response to RQ1.
For RQ2, the data was explored to assess the strengths and weaknesses of LDC with Indian clients. For RQ3, the inferences drawn from the first two questions were examined to make recommendations for practice. After completion of all three stages with the first client the entire cycle was repeated for the second client. Multiple frameworks were utilized for evaluation (Table 2). However, due to space constraints the triadic lens comprising of LDC’s key components are used here to summarize evaluation and to make recommendations for practice.
* Adapted from Brookfield’s (2017) four lens reflective model
LDC’s key components are relationship, reflection and sense-making. A collaborative relationship provides a safe space and holding environment wherein counselors prompt self-reflection and sense-making to produce intentionality. Several instances during Jane and Drew’s LDC interventions pointed towards the requirement for a stronger working alliance. This included Drew’s withdrawing from the psychodynamic approach of LDC. Also, while the lifeline exercise elicited a rich transition narrative, further scope for reflection was identified. Moreover, it was found that the knowledge of the participant’s culture significantly contributes to the success of LDC and low self-esteem is a common issue amongst Asian contexts. At the end of their respective interventions, both clients stated that they knew the answer to their transition query. This is a key principle of LDC which was explained to both clients - the solution lies within them. While Jane acknowledged the role of LDC, Drew nonchalantly stated that he knew everything beforehand.
Evaluation from the lens of other career theories facilitated the critical adaptation of LDC. This assessment was utilized to elaborate recommendations for practice.
Recommendations for Practice
A strong working alliance (relationship) creates the foundation for an effective counselling intervention. This is established by eliciting emotions and offering comfort (Savickas 2011). But in India, not everyone is comfortable articulating emotions. Therefore, while screening and contracting, clients need to be informed that to draw maximum benefit from LDC, they should be willing to engage with their emotions.
To enhance shared construction by client and counselor, scope for further client reflection and self-examination was identified. Maree (2013) recommends that counselors repeatedly read client responses back to them and request clients to authorize and validate (or invalidate) the counselor’s understanding. When clients believe that they are being heard and feel validated, they reflect more deeply on their career narratives. In this manner, validity, credibility and trustworthiness can be established to further strengthen the working alliance and facilitate sense-making.
Comprehension of client’s own narrative identities emerges from dialogue, not insight (Savickas 2011). Therefore, through effective dialogue the counselor needs to ‘induce’ a concrete experience (Kolb 1984). Only if the experience is ‘sufficiently concrete will it be suitable for ‘construction,’ or bring forth the client’s thoughts, beliefs and emotions for reflective self-examination and deconstruction in the subsequent stage. This leads to another important aspect to be considered while setting client expectations and prompting reflection i.e. having confidence in the concept of ‘bricolage.’
Savickas (2015b) describes bricolage as constructing something new from whatever is at hand. As practitioners prompt reflection through CCI, they should further inquire about the cultural plots and metaphors the client has used to articulate his or her most profound concerns and fundamental truths. These elements work as source material for biographical bricolage wherein, the counselor engages the client in a dialogue with these sources of their own self, to rearrange them and direct client decision making. The lifeline activity provides wider scope for biographical bricolage and should be utilized intelligently. Thoughtful questioning by the counselor will facilitate reflection and self-awareness, while CCI and lifeline will represent the scaffolding for self-assembly and reassembly (Savickas 2015b).
After building any structure, the builder views it from all four sides to get an overall assessment. Similarly, during the construction stage, after constructing the concrete experience, it should be assessed from all the perspectives summarized by Savickas (2015a), as listed in Table 4. This multi-dimensional analysis will demonstrate what the concrete experience symbolically represents for the client, and the tension that holds it together. Therefore, for a successful LDC intervention, each stage of the LDC process should be analyzed from all four perspectives before moving on to the subsequent stage.
In the Indian value system, the boundaries between self and other (Arulmani 2011) are porous, wherein Indian parents believe their child’s success is representative of their own success, while children perceive parental expectations as their own (Bhalla 2017). Tien (2015) also highlights how in eastern cultures family is a part of the whole picture for self-construction. These characteristics of collectivist societies and analysis of the two LDC interventions call for considering life roles (and role salience) as part of LDC. Herein, administering the Life-Space Map (Brott 2005) is recommended.
In this research, both clients volunteered information on their short-, medium- and long-term goals indicating the increasing clarity of their intentions. To further facilitate action and planning (with sense-making) the future-focused, extended lifeline exercise (Brott 2005) is recommended.
Savickas (2015a) emphasizes the role of audience in achieving the goal of narratability and facilitating action wherein counselors should encourage clients to ground their new stories in a secure base by narrating it to an audience outside of the counseling session. Indian clients consider parents the most important audience yet are uncomfortable sharing their mission statement with them as it may differ from the original plans decided as a family. Therefore, counselors can help clients recruit ’known’, ‘imaginary’ or ‘introduced’ audiences for his purpose (Briddickk and Sensoy-Briddickk 2013).
Tien’s (2015) suggestion to encourage Asian clients to think positively is highly relevant because doing well is considered a child’s obligation. Instead of rejoicing in their strengths, family and relatives tend to compare their child’s achievements to his/her peers and children of their peers with shortcomings becoming a focal point of discussion. Drew’s inability to accept appreciation, expecting criticism from the counselor and his lack of career confidence reflect this common trend. Hence, strength building exercises are highly recommended for clients within a collectivist context.
Based on the findings one can conclude that Life-Design Counseling can be an effective career intervention for the Indian context. However, for LDC to be successful, practitioners need to focus on instilling confidence in their clients, empowering them to find the solution situated within them. From the cultural perspective, it was found that for India’s collectivist value system, exploring the concept of life roles through reflection may significantly contribute to the overall LDC experience. Practitioners who are familiar with the client’s cultural orientation and outlook are certainly at an advantage while counseling. However, counselors who lack knowledge of the cultural script followed in countries with a collectivist orientation can utilize the concept of life-roles to understand and acknowledge the client’s context. In this manner, practitioners can demonstrate empathy and administer a culturally resonant career intervention.
Aparna Bhalla, a 2021 APCDA Scholar, is a high school counselor in India and complete her master’s degree in Career Development and Coaching Studies at the University of Warwick, England. She currently practices Life-Design Career Counseling.
by Yogeswary Nithiah Nandan, Senior Career Coach
Singapore is seen as an economic giant due to its robust economy, with a highly educated workforce, excellent connectivity, and high standard of living that offers businesses the ideal landscape to invest. We cannot ignore the fact that Singapore’s landscape has seen shifts since the pandemic situation started in 2020.
Transition, Change, Mindset, Agility and Adaptability are some common words that we hear these days. We cannot disagree with the fact that the pandemic has thrown many off their comfortable seats and forced the world to embrace change. It is often the ones most responsive to change that emerge unscathed.
There are many theories out there on why people resist change. It is not uncommon for people to prefer stability and predictability. Not everyone is adventurous and wants to go on a rollercoaster ride when it comes to their livelihood. We are slowly moving away from the days when not staying in one company for all your career is seen as a failure. Career transitions are slowly losing their negative connotation and becoming welcomed.
Common reasons that we hear for career transitions are usually pull factors such as higher salary, attractive job scope or a job that fits their interests and push factors such as feeling stagnated, uncompetitive salary or negative relationship with colleagues or reporting officer.
When a Client approaches me with regards to career transition, I usually explore a few options with them. First, I check with them on their motivation for career transition. This would give a better idea on their driving forces for a career change. It would also give me a better idea on their urgency for transition or if they have already undergone the career discovery process.
Thereafter, I will explore the following with them:
Self-awareness is crucial when clients want to make a career transition. It is important for clients to understand their Values, Personality, Interests and Skills and if it fits the role of their choice. I have had jobseekers who tell me that they want to make a change because they heard that the industry is popular now or has lots of opportunities. I encourage my clients to focus on their career interests because career interests are often linked to greater job satisfaction and success at work. We cannot discount the fact that having a job that has interesting tasks or duties would motivate us to stay in the job. But we will never know what is important to us until we explore our career interests.
National Trade Union Congress’s Employment and Employability Institute (NTUC’s e2i) offers the Career Navigator workshop specially curated for our jobseekers to understand more about themselves through personality assessments. The workshop is targeted at jobseekers who are keen to discover their career goals, values and interests which can further direct them on the right career track. Following the assessment, our trainers guide our clients to integrate the results with their career goals and share tips on how to formulate a career plan to achieve the goals.
As part of NTUC e2i’s career strategies series, we have also introduced jobs sharing sessions for jobseekers who are keen to explore job options in growing market (e.g. Healthcare and eCommerce (Third-party Logistic)). Through these sessions, jobseekers are able to pick up digital skills to prepare them for future-ready jobs. The session also covers information on sector specific jobs. At the end of the session, clients are equipped with new digital skills and learn how to take charge of their job search.
Industry Transformation Map and Skills Framework
The Industry Transformation Maps are roadmaps to drive transformation. NTUC and Unions have been involved since the conceptualization of the Industry Transformation Maps. The unions representing individual industry were consulted to better inform the upskilling of workers and the skillsets needed to meet the challenges of the future. Roadmaps were developed for 23 industries and focus on 4 pillars which are productivity, jobs and skills, innovation, and trade and internationalisation. While we brainstorm ideas for career choices, I often encourage my clients to look at the Skills Framework which is a component of the Industry Transformation Map. Through this framework, our clients have a better understanding of the industry, career pathways, exiting and emerging skills and training programs which they can tap to bridge their gap. And when clients better understand their transferrable skills, they can better manage a career transition.
There are several conversion programs that have been rolled out to aid Singaporeans in career transition. One of the programs under the Adapt & Grow initiative is the Professional Conversion Programme also known as PCP by many. The PCP is a conversion program targeted at PMETs (Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians). The Place and Train (PnT) program provide training and salary support to help workers reskill to take on new jobs in different sectors. The Attach and Train program provides workers with training and work attachments. Under this program, trainees undergo on-the-job training with a partnering company to which they are attached to upon completion of the classroom training. Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) offers a Mid-Career Advance program that provides opportunities for mid-career professionals to reskill or upskill themselves so that they can enter the tech field.
Through these programs many Singaporeans have had the opportunity to embark on a mid-career switch through picking up new skills. NTUC’s e2i coaches explore the various programs with our clients who are looking for opportunities to move into new sectors which they have assessed to offer them better prospects and progression.
SG United Jobs and Skills Package
The SG United Jobs and Skills Package was announced in 2020 to support Singaporeans who had been impacted by COVID-19. The package allows Singaporeans to expand job opportunities and acquire job related skills via training.
Under this package, the SG United Mid-Career Pathways program was introduced to support mid-career individuals to widen their professional networks and gain new, in-demand skills while preparing for more permanent jobs in the future. This has been an additional option for our PMETs who are given opportunities to gain meaningful industry relevant experience.
Another program is the SG United Skills Programme which aids Singaporeans to acquire in-demand and emerging skills in various sectors via a wide range of training courses. These full-time training courses are largely in sectors with good hiring opportunities and provide trainees with opportunities to upskill and reskill themselves with industry relevant skills and knowledge. The trainees are able to boost their employability and prepare to take on new jobs as the economy recovers.
Career transition has its challenges as change is not something everybody is open to or receptive to. Thus, it is crucial that we give our client focused guidance, formulate an action plan together, guide to improvise their job search skills and support them through this journey. I always share this quote by Henry Ford with my clients who are considering career switch: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
Yogeswary Nithiah Nandan, Senior Career Coach, NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute, is a certified Job and Career Transition Coach and Career Facilitator (CFP). She is an experienced Career Practitioner with a strong belief in organizational and career development. Yogeswary is passionate in guiding people towards their preferred career direction to enable them to have meaningful careers. She is a strong believer in staying relevant in today's changing times and has continued to embrace career development practices to help individuals gain career clarity for greater job satisfaction.
By Rupert French
Two recent trends to effective job search are helping job seekers regain some control of the job search process. The development of robotic software (Applicant Tracking System or ATS) to assess written applications and now the asynchronous video interviews (AVI) had unintentionally eroded that sense of control, demoralizing many candidates.
These two trends work together to reinvigorate the job search process. They are the value proposition and the call to action (CTA).
The value proposition (or business proposal) is where job seekers take the initiative to tell an employer how they want to help the organization achieve its objectives.
A call to action is where job seekers proactively request an interview based on the strength of their value proposition.
While ATS and AVI software tend to disempower applicants, these two proactive initiatives, the value proposition and CTA, work towards a win-win situation and give job seekers significantly greater standing in the employers’ eyes.
Employers are responsible for making their enterprises profitable. They are not going to give out jobs to people out of a sense of pity or generosity; they want people who are going to benefit the organization. While ATS and AVI software is programmed to evaluate the potential qualities a job seeker could bring to the organization to enable recruiters estimate that benefit, the result won’t be nearly as convincing as the applicants themselves stating and demonstrating how they can and want to help.
A value proposition is not just a simple statement in a written application; it is communicated in every contact the applicant has with the organization. The value proposition results from thorough research of the issues facing the organization and the motivation to help meet those issues.
When job seekers first contact someone in the organization, they may ask for more information about those issues and a remark such as “I would love to help with something like that” demonstrates not only the ability but the motivation to be involved.
In the written application, the value proposition is clearly stated and then convincingly supported by achievement (or accomplishment) statements demonstrating the required skills and motivation. Here is an example from the cover letter for an application for the position of Director of Events and Business Management at a sports center:
This supported by achievement statements in the applicant’s résumé:
Her application would generate keen interest and provides convincing evidence of her motivation and ability. Now all that is required is a strong call to action.
Call to action
Marketing gurus will tell you that an effective call to action (CTA) is an essential part of any successful marketing campaign and job seekers are marketing their services.
Because job seekers have gradually been disempowered by modern trends in recruitment, many feel uncomfortable using CTAs but they can significantly increase the likelihood of getting an interview. They are worth using – but they must be backed up by a convincing value proposition.
Opportunities for CTAs could include websites, social media profiles and when talking to prospective hiring managers. Perhaps the most powerful place is the cover letter. Note the implied CTA in the cover letter quoted above where the applicant seeks a meeting or interview:
In that letter, there are two other, and more explicit, CTAs. The first is in the subject line which begins: “Request for interview; Director of Events and Business Development.“ This tells the employer that this is a serious applicant, that the applicant is confident that she would perform well in the job.
The third one is in the final paragraph:
With a summary of her Value Proposition preceding the CTA, the employer would feel strongly encouraged to pick up the phone and arrange the interview. Employers want applicants with confidence and initiative, leadership and drive. If candidates have got the nerve to include CTAs backed up by a convincing value proposition, it demonstrates that they have those qualities.
Employers want applicants who are confident of their abilities and motivated to meet the issues of the role they are applying for. A value proposition displayed throughout the job search process and followed by strategic CTAs indicate a serious candidate, one well worth interviewing.
These trends should be adopted into the toolkit of every serious job seeker.
Note: the quotations are taken from one of the specimen applications in my book How to Get a Good Job After 50, (Exisle Publishing, ISBN 978-1-925820-82-9) to be released in June.
Rupert French is a globally recognized, award-winning job search expert and author with 40 years active involvement in helping disadvantaged job seekers. He contributes articles regularly to LinkedIn Pulse. A presenter on successful job search strategies at several national and international career conferences, he has been a guest on radio and television in Australia, New Zealand and the USA. The revised edition of How to Get a Good Job After 50 is his fourth book.
By Han Kok Kwang, 1st APCDA Legacy Partner Lifetime Member
In my exchanges with generous career mentors around the world, I’ve gathered a huge repertoire of tools and techniques to guide my candidates in career transition. One of my favorite techniques is Career Story, which is very effective for self-disclosure in group sessions.
I often used it when I run career transition (CT) workshops for mature participants (age 50+). Many of them are self-conscious, anxious and thus, less keen to speaking up. Why? As casualties of “corporate right-sizing” or early retirement policies, they are usually not in class by choice.
It is always a challenge to manage a class of 20 mature participants. With about 25+ years’ experience each, the collective wisdom in a class is easily 500 years! With seniority and experience under their belt, they are impatient and ”suffer no fools,” especially with perceived “young punk” facilitators.
I recall one of my early CT sessions with amusement when I started a workshop. Before I could say anything, their first question, in a most condescending tone, was “How old are you, Han?” Truth be told, I was at least 10 years younger than most of them. But it didn’t matter. I simply connected with them sincerely and demonstrated my competence via my sharing. It was a breeze after that. The key is to stay calm and not react. It’s also more effective to show, not tell.
Lessons learnt? It is not personal because this is probably the 1st time they are seeing you. Treat your participants, especially the mature ones, with respect. Earn theirs with your empathy and competence. Tap the experience of the vocal ones by giving them opportunities to showcase their experience. When you win them over, the difficult participants often become your strongest advocates.
The best time to utilize Career Story is when participants are fairly comfortable with each other, usually in the 2nd or 3rd quarter of the day.
Set the stage by asking if there are any movie fans in the class. The response is usually affirmative because going to movies is a common past time. You then talk about the movie trailers that are shown before the main movie feature. Ask them why are the trailers so exciting and captivating to watch? They are often quite happy to participate. You simply go with the flow. The key is when you explain that movie trailers are exciting because they show only the best parts. The highlights are what make them captivating.
Then link movie trailers to job hunting. Emphasize to them that the same principle applies. Employers are busy people. They have no time for you or any candidate (it’s not personal) unless you come across as exciting to them, like a movie trailer.
You then transition to ask them to draw their Career Story to date, in 6 minutes. The Career Story will be their personal movie trailer, highlighting both their career highs and lows. The highs will be their strengths e.g. Promotions or Advancements. The lows will be great lessons learned and skills developed e.g. Setbacks or failures. Assure them that what happens in the classroom stays in the classroom.
Emphasize drawing their career story with one condition: no words are allowed. Tell them the more detailed the drawing is, the more impactful it will be. Some may protest, saying they can’t draw. Reassure them that they know but simply forgot how. Why? Because when they were young, most of them drew before they learned how to write.
Drawing equalizes the class because some may not have strong language or writing skills. Drawing also puts everyone at the same starting point. You may even discover some hidden artistic talents in the class. Once they are done drawing their story, assign them to different groups from the ones they are currently seated with. Each one will have 5 minutes to tell their Career Story in the new group.
In each group, ask for volunteers to play two roles: Timekeeper and Cheer leader. The Timekeeper will keep time, ensuring that each one has 5 full minutes to share their story. The Cheerleader will lead the group to validate and appreciate the storyteller when they are done telling their story. The roles are useful in enabling ownership and keeping engagement amongst participants high.
Usually, the story telling will start off slow and rather soft. However, by the time they are done, they are usually animated and loud. The ice is broken and trust is built, because they have realized that everyone has a story that is uniquely theirs. They are not alone in this predicament of career transition nor is it their fault. A proper debrief is essential to provide closure and help them reframe their experience positively as a Happenstance event for growth (Krumboltz).
As the facilitator, you could also use the “Johari Window” to highlight the importance of self- disclosure (Window #3 = Secret: you know, they don’t know) in a group to build trust. But always remind them to protect themselves and disclose (share) only what they are comfortable to share. As we are not privy to others’ intentions, participants must be prepared that whatever they share may end up on social media.
For students who don’t have much career experience, you can reposition it as a Life Story activity. And in this age of virtual learning, you can use the breakout room feature on Zoom to play the game to keep engagement high.
Happy career storying!
By Ma. Leonila Vitug-Urrea, PhD
Transfer, Transform, Transition. Career supervision has never been this challenging and these three words have guided me as our department delivers all counseling, career programs, and services online while journeying with the fear and anxieties of living in quarantine for more than a year.
Transferring our guidance services online entailed an identifying and enlisting the transferrable skills of my staff, while I, their supervisor, endeavored to reflect on my skillset and identify skills which could serve as an anchor for us to start our work and provide the expected guidance services to all the University’s stakeholders. Steering my staff to be deliberately aware of what they can contribute to the new working modality has brought excitement and amazement for those who can adapt, but for some who cannot adapt have left us with a “that’s all I know folks, take it or leave it” attitude. Helping this kind of staff to upskill so they can work in cyberspace is a matter of attitude and not about age. Many attempts were extended to scaffold their learning through the assistance of their peers in the office, but reality surfaced. It was difficult for them to follow as they did not have the stick-to-it-iveness to do it. No matter how much I would have liked to save them for temporary unemployment, it was inevitable because their mindset was a stumbling block for them to function effectively with the team.
As we learned to transform our programs and services into relevant activities, the challenges of working at home appeared. Domestic concerns and chores became interspersed during the workday rather than doing them before or after work. Faced with this challenging scenario, I find meaning in balance as I traverse with my staff how we do work and how it can be outcome-based amidst our responsibilities in our home cum office. Through this process, my trust and hope for my staff have transformed to a new level as I creatively find ways to motivate them remotely. I involve them in planning measurable outputs leading them to measure their accomplishments in hours worked in a day, to collate, and submit these as a weekly report. At present, work supervision utilizes several platforms. I communicate with my staff and follow-up activities via Messenger and Hangouts chat or calls, and regular meetings via Zoom or Google Meet.
Are we still transitioning? Yes, we are as there are still discomforts in doing full-time online work. This should be expected, as we abruptly changed the way we work. Our past training did not suffice for us to navigate effectively the delivery platforms needed for the programs and services we offer to the stakeholders, most especially to the students. Digital immigrants and natives, I found out have one common characteristic: both are conditioned to learn, study, and work face-to-face. Though flexible learning and working conditions existed before, full online work and learning happened unexpectedly. Thus, both digital immigrants and natives are transitioning into this new way of life. As social distancing adds new metrics to stay safe from being sick with the variants of COVID-19, I initiated and encouraged independence in learning new skills, open-mindedness, focus, collaboration, coordination, and transparency for my team. My staff and I have recognized the birth pains of new projects, and that failures do happen. We are facing the moment with a realistic optimism and have accepted a future that is uncertain and disrupted. And as I let them into my vision of our programs and services in this new normal, I know I have inspired, in one way or the other, a conviction that the challenges we are facing are growth opportunities.
Calmly, we all waddle on the current of the pandemic but we will surely arrive at our destination.
Ma. Leonila Vitug-Urrea, PhD. is currently the Director of the Guidance, Counseling and Career Services Office of the University of the East. She is a licensed guidance counselor and a mental health psychosocial support volunteer counselor/facilitator to survivors of natural calamities. She is currently the corresponding secretary of the Association of Placement Practitioners of Colleges and Universities (APPCU). She serves on APCDA’s Ethics and Standards Committee and assisted with the revision of the Ethical Guidelines of APCDA.
Career Advice for Generalists
By Tuan Anh Le
There are two types of people commonly found in work: those who like and are good at a specialization (a.k.a specialist) and those who like and are good at doing many different things (a.k.a generalists). In 6 years of career consulting for young adults in Vietnam, I have had the opportunity to meet many ‘generalists’ - or 'people who like everything.' For people that 'like all kinds of things', which job is right?
Do you like one thing or like all sorts of things?
A specialist is usually only interested in 1 or 2 specific areas of work and spends a lot of time studying that area deeply. In any profession, it is possible to find people who have studied a specific area deeply. For example, you can meet very expert doctors, teachers, and lawyers who don't know much about what's going on in the entertainment world. They are specialists.
People who find all kinds of things interesting may find in many areas of work interesting, often even unrelated areas. For example, I am a person who likes all kinds of things. In my career, I have worked in communication, social insurance, IT, education, hospitality, and I like it all. I am a generalist.
One more way to know if you are in the generalist group is to take the Holland personality inventory. If you have a high score in 4 or more groups, chances are you are a generalist.
The suffering of generalists
This article was born because many people who ‘like all kinds’ seek career counseling. If they were happy, then there would be no need to write this article. So why do generalists suffer?
Suffering by comparing themselves with a friend (usually a professional) who already knows which field to pursue, or a friend who has reached a managerial position, but the generalist is still struggling to find a true passion.
Suffering because the generalist knows a little about everything but does not know any field in depth, so when looking for a job, companies reject the generalist.
Generalists have certain advantages.
In my work as a career consultant, I help the client see more clearly the two sides of the problem. Often the person who seeks career counseling is stuck on the negative side, so I will help the person see the positive side. Actually, generalists have certain advantages when working:
In a crisis, such as Covid-19, specialists struggle to stay in their chosen field. Generalists are able to adapt well and can look for other jobs.
At work, a generalist who is trained in leadership skills becomes a more inclusive leader.
Many companies favor people with expertise in a variety of areas over one area. People who like many things have multiple approaches to a problem.
What kind of work environment suits a generalist?
Being a generalist is a necessary quality for someone who works as a freelancer, works for a small company or works as a general manager.
To be a freelancer, you need one skill that you do well (writing, designing, taking pictures or something). But you must also be willing to do the many diverse tasks needed to run a business, and you need to connect with many people. That is the way to ensure financial stability.
Small companies need to take advantage of generalists who are able to hold 2 or 3 different roles, helping to reduce costs. For example, one person can work as a human resource manager, accountant, or marketing officer at the same time for the same company.
A general manager needs to be a generalist to understand the work of subordinate positions. For example, the subordinates send reports and the manager needs to read and understand the reports to give feedback.
So how about generalists who want to apply to companies/corporations?
First, for degrees, generalists should consider taking an MBA or master's degree in management because you will be taught more about management thinking, leadership thinking, general knowledge, and many aspects of the economic market.
When working in a unit, you must accept that you are not as specialized as some professionals. However, take advantage of the fact that you know many things and turn it into your strength. Focus on tasks such as being a connector, a manager, or creating new jobs.
Big companies often seek people who specialize in a certain area. You may need to specialize in one area and become good enough in that field for employers to select you. But you also need to know many different things to be successful in life. The secret is to choose one thing you do, focus on being good at that one thing, and use it to find a job. After being hired, use your generalist preference to become an invaluable team player.
Mr. Tuan Anh Le is one of the first-generation career professionals in Vietnam. He is the author of 3 bestselling books on career and personal development topics. His strength is to use social media to interact and convey career messages to students. He currently manages the community of more than 100,000 vocational students on Facebook.
By Dr. Jacqueline Peila-Shuster
In summer of 2020, I chose to take an online instructional course designed for faculty at my university in an attempt to bolster my proficiency with teaching online. My upcoming fall was to consist of teaching two courses that were to have both in-person (face-to-face, or should I say mask-to-mask) components, as well as asynchronous online components. I wanted the best for my students, so I knew I needed to learn more.
To ensure quality online course design, Colorado State University’s Online program (CSU Online) uses Quality Matters ™ (QM), which is an international organization recognized as a leader in quality assurance for online education. The QM Higher Education Rubric provides research-based review standards that can be applied to online courses to evaluate course design (not course delivery).
As I worked through my course map, which was based on QM standards, I was required to engage in intentional and thoughtful ways to determine learning objectives for each lesson (or module) plan that connected to my overall course objectives. Additionally, assessments, instructional resources, and learning activities each had to be connected to lesson/module objectives, and they had to encompass a variety of learning styles and abilities. Overall, while it was an enormous amount of work, when I ultimately moved information into the online learning platform, I was able to be both efficient and effective, and students were presented with learning opportunities that were clear, coherent, and connected.
Jacqueline J. Peila-Shuster, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, is an associate professor and coordinator of the Counseling and Career Development master's degree program in the School of Education at Colorado State University. She also coordinates the degree's Career Counseling specialization. Dr. Peila-Shuster teaches courses in career development, supervises counseling internship and practicum, and is faculty with the Career Construction Network.
Meaningful Work: Later Life Career Transitions and Adaptability
by Jennifer Luke
Globalisation, technology, and an ageing population are profoundly impacting labour markets globally. Policy makers are encouraged by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; 2019) to strengthen resilience and adaptability within their workforce as well as encourage the addition of skills from mature age workers so as to strengthen workforce productivity. With a growing mature age workforce, this creates great opportunities for employers to harness the wealth of knowledge and experience that older workers bring. Unfortunately, mature age workers are still faced with many hurdles in a highly competitive and fast-moving job market, and so they need to be adaptable as well as have a purpose.
Before looking at workforce capability solutions and how to encourage employers to recruit older workers, you need to first focus on the individual. What are the needs of a mature age worker? Why are they looking for a career transition? If they are retired, why are they wishing to re-enter the workforce? How does a mature age worker need to adapt to the changing world of work? How have their plans been affected during recent months within a global pandemic?
The world of work has become a fast-paced environment where people of all ages seek meaning from within both their life and career roles, in order to connect themselves into meaningful paths built upon personal values and a sense of purpose. How can mature age workers navigate career transitions within today’s constantly changing work environment and successfully adapt to challenges they may encounter during their search for meaningful work?
Meaningful work and purpose
Meaningful work provides experience and personal growth and is a human right central to mental health and wellbeing, as well as meeting the basic needs of survival and power, social connection, and self-determination (Blustein, 2006, 2013).
The motivation of those in retirement to re-engage with career was investigated by Luke et al., (2016) where an overall desire to have work and life experiences valued in the workplace, was a common theme amongst older-aged interview participants. Also highlighted was the importance of employers to recognise and encourage older workers who re-engage with work (paid or volunteer), so as to build upon their self-belief, career adaptability and sense of meaningfulness.
Adaptability during career transitions
All job seekers including those of mature age must remain adaptable and flexible in the face of challenges they encounter during the search for meaningful work while career transitioning. In providing career support to these workers there are four psychological dimensions of career adaptability to consider: a sense of autonomy over work tasks (control), a future-focused orientation to working (concern), feeling positive about successfully contributing to a workplace (confidence), and a focus on lifelong learning (curiosity) (Savickas, 2012).
It is important to understand that a person’s age does not regulate where they stand within the career life span. Donald Super’s Life-Span, Life-Space (1990) comprises of five career stages – growth, exploration, establishment, maintenance, and disengagement, with developmental tasks and roles undertaken during each. Super acknowledged that life events can cause people to revisit earlier career life stages such as a mature age worker in the later maintenance stage of their career deciding to return to an exploration stage via a career change or a retiree deciding to re-enter employment (establishment stage) after previously disengaging form the workforce. Super described this as mini-cycling where interests, abilities, and values are reappraised using processes seen in earlier developmental stages. In any of these transitions to earlier life stages, career adaptability is key.
Benefits of the mature age worker
The advantage to hiring experienced older workers is that not only do they pass on their knowledge to clients and customers, but also their team members. Encouraging mentorship and knowledge transfer between an inclusive workplace will provide return on investment for employers. This focus on mentorship and knowledge transfer is where my recent PhD research has focused and a main outcome of the studies conducted was a strong alignment to meaningful work.
With the mature age workforce increasing in age, businesses and communities now have access to a wealth of knowledge – they need to make sure to recognise, value and use it. Automation and technology cannot account for the experience these mature age workers will bring to a job.
See you online at the APCDA 2021 Conference
A main goal of my recent PhD research was to contribute research that promotes policy and professional practice conversations about the value of older workers, their career development needs, and how to support their career engagement, as well as the importance of transferring their knowledge through effective and meaningful mentorship to younger workers.
In the upcoming APCDA 2021 conference I have the great privilege of presenting with Dr. Roberta Borgen (Neault) and Dr William Borgen on the topic of career engagement for older workers and adapting to workforce change. Following on from a journal article focusing on this topic (Luke & Neault, 2020) and our recent CERIC webinar series, the three of us are looking forward to sharing further with conference attendees. As a research member of the Australian Collaboratory for Career Employability and Learning for Living (ACCELL), I also have the fantastic opportunity to present with my research team colleague Jason Brown in another APCDA conference session looking at career adaptation across the lifespan with a focus both on university students and post-retirement age mentors. Meaningful work, career transitions and adaptability are what we all strive for and at this time in world history even more so. The APCDA 2021 conference will be a great time for all attendees to share, learn, collaborate, and network. See you there!
Culture and Career Development in Sri Lanka
By Anjana Kulasekara, Founder & CEO, CareerMe
Sri Lanka faces a huge skills mismatch in the labour market where there aren’t enough skilled workers for the available jobs. In 2019, the growth sectors were construction, manufacturing, tourism & hospitality, and IT services, however these sectors continue to face difficulty in finding skilled workers1. On the flip side, there is high youth unemployment in Sri Lanka with the age group of 15-24 years experiencing a 21.5% unemployment rate according to the 2019 Labour Force Survey published by Department of Census and Statistics. The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to be properly quantified but an estimated 600,000 direct and indirect jobs have been lost in tourism and allied sectors1.
Career guidance has long been looked upon as a potential tool to address the labour market skills mismatch. In Sri Lanka there are many organisations such as schools, vocational training institutions, youth service centres, government ministries, and private sector institutions involved in the provision of career guidance. However, there is very little collaboration and cohesion between these entities with most acting in silos, thereby reducing the overall impact of their activities. The table below highlights few key public sector organizations involved in delivery of career guidance services in Sri Lanka2.
Taking into account the aforementioned growth sectors in Sri Lanka, more job opportunities are present in the vocational sector. However, most youth are unaware or unwilling to engage in the vocational sector. There are many reasons for this ranging from cultural to socioeconomic influences3. As such most of these public sector organizations providing career guidance services and work to promote vocational education and related career opportunities.
In Sri Lankan culture, parents are key decisions makers in their child’s future career. It is commonly observed that parents encourage or influence their children to pursue traditional careers such as a doctor, lawyer, or engineer, as these are well paying professions perceived with high esteem by society and carry high social value. It is also observed that parents, especially from more rural settings, would rather have their children pursue a government or public sector job rather than one in the private sector. The former is perceived as a more secure vocation with guaranteed pension, and higher social status which may go so far as promoting an individual’s chance of securing a good marriage. Even the promise of higher pay in the private sector may not be enough to dissuade such an individual from pursuing a government sector job. Hence with such cultural underpinning, professions in the vocational and private sector are often less valued or looked down upon.
In addition to parents, school teachers also play a crucial role in influencing an individual’s education and career trajectory. However, school teachers, too, are underprepared to guide students as they themselves lack information on careers; labor market information; and training to effectively support their students. These key influential figures’ lack of awareness of the changing world of work leaves students often lost and confused when it comes to choosing a career or education path. Unrealistic expectations of the work place are also prevalent as most would rely on word-of-mouth information provided by their close circle of family and peers rather than consult a professional on this front.
It should also be noted that Sri Lanka enjoys a high literacy rate due to free education provided by the state. However, for university education there are only 15 state universities and due to the limited capacity, only about 30,000 students are admitted annually out of the approximately 165,000 who are eligible to enter university after completing the university entrance (G.C.E. A-level) examination every year4. Therefore, a large number of students are left confused on what to do next. Many spend their time attempting the A/L exam for 2nd or 3rd time in hope of getting into a public university and eventually landing a public sector job rather than looking for other education and career opportunities.
Certain professions in the vocational sector are also considered by society to be unsuitable for a certain gender (eg: considering construction jobs as unsuitable for women). Such cultural and societal biases close potential job opportunities to youth. This simple example also characterizes the need to localize career guidance tools and assessments to the local context. Psychometric assessment tools from other countries include or refer to occupations that are subject to strong cultural biases, which tends to skew the results of the assessment.
All these cultural and societal nuances need to be accounted for when developing career services for a specific region. Drawing on personal experience - when building CareerMe (www.careerme.lk), we took these considerations into account in developing tools and assessments, and also localized our online platform to all three national languages (Sinhala, Tamil and English languages) to overcome the language barrier. Further we made a push toward promoting use of technology as most entities were relying on offline, paper-based mechanisms for delivery of career services in the country, which greatly limited the reach and accessibility of career services to those who need them.
The career services field in Sri Lanka is still an emerging field. While the need for career services and guidance has been recognized, there is still much to be done in formalizing the sector, from introducing proper certification & licensing schemes for career practitioners, to making available labour market information, to raising awareness for key stakeholders on the usefulness of obtaining career guidance services. There is a visible movement to improve career guidance services for youth with support from foreign donors and NGOs, however, there is much to be done to develop the sector to one that is valued by the society and relevant to the dynamic needs of today’s working landscape.
Global Careers in Diverse Cultures
By Dr. Susan Mate
De-centred and collaborative practice are core competencies and an important orientation to cross cultural career learning.
The standards guiding career professionals vary in diverse cultural contexts. As career practitioners in a global work economy, we increasingly work with a breadth of people. These standards, strategies and missions enable us to explore how we can continue to grow our capacity for working with clients and colleagues from diverse backgrounds. As Savickas (2021) in a CICA presentation highlights, some counsellors have turned to narrative models and methods for self-construction and identity shaping because this approach emphasizes life design rather than occupational choice.
I would be interested in views from others about how collaboration informs your practice for engaging with people from diverse backgrounds and as a source of professional identity. I noted that APCDA has identified this as the first part of their mission - that is to work collaboratively. During 2020 the APCDA defined some important service competencies. In this discussion the competency standards outlined by APCDA are unique in identifying coaching and consulting skills (see competency 2c), which are considered important in the work of practitioners. Competency 3, Individual and group counselling skills is outlined not only by APCDA but can be seen to be mapped across other standards in many contexts. For example, in Australia we are guided by the standards set by the Career Industry Council of Australia Standards (CICA) and in Canada, the Canadian Standards and Guidelines for Career Development Practice. In some cultures, such as Vietnam, these professional standards for career practitioners are still evolving. The way in which we identify with practitioner standards in different cultures could be viewed at the core of our ethical orientation and, possibly, our approach to cross-cultural practice. It is also a factor in our professional identity. For example, counselling is a common practice identified in many standards, but how is this used in practice? Do you think of yourself as a career counsellor? I like to think of my work as a counsellor as involving a collaborative style where I co-construct narratives with my clients. I guess it is my understanding that narrative is an of important vehicle for collaboration.
For me, narrative practice has long been a way of orienting my understanding of careers work and counselling practice. McMahon and Watson (2012) recognise that narrative counselling enables practitioners to work effectively with people from diverse backgrounds. Narrative is seen to have strong links to approaches that enable people to work with the changes associated with global career theories such as constructs of careers that have been identified as important in the international Careers arena.
White (2009) discussed the importance of collaboration in professional practice and how this informs narrative therapy and de-centred practice. Collaboration and de-centred practice guide narrative therapy work. This notion of collaborative work in the Careers field is what continues to draw me toward work in the profession. Narrative is a vehicle to embrace a process for understanding cultural diversity and transition. It can also be seen as a process for understanding CDL (curriculum development learning) and its application in varied contexts. Narrative can also be used as a tool to evaluate workplace learning and how culture of a workplace influences different groups that are marginalised in the workplace.
Although narrative therapy, narrative career practice, analysis of narratives in CDL and narrative analysis for cultural exploration all have varied emphases, they all share a collaborative orientation to practice. Savickas (2013) defines the relationship between career construction theory and counselling practice.
Narrative practice is oriented toward the relationship between the practitioner and their client or student. This is an important ethical consideration as it is one that defines the power a client has and their agency in a process. Narrative is often regarded as an orientation rather than a standard of practice, much like CDL frameworks that focus on collaborations between careers services for employability outcomes and a holistic approach to curricula design.
Further exploration of how we partner with clients is important in the careers field. CICA’s (2019) standards of practice emphasise the relationship to the client. A practitioner is expected to ‘Refrain from consciously dictating to, judging or coercing client choices, values, lifestyles, plans or beliefs.” The National Career Development Association (NCDA) emphasises advocacy and the importance of working “jointly in devising integrated career services plans (in writing or orally) that offer reasonable promise of success and are consistent with the abilities and circumstances of clients.”
The ways in which we find opportunity to critically examine how we work in culturally diverse communities appears to be a contemporary mission for many practitioners coming into the career field that I work with. To build more integrated CDL pedagogies may be one step in this direction. We have started to explore this in the Graduate Certificate in Careers Education and Development at RMIT University and study how the co-design initiatives provide greater opportunity for collaboration. We have a very diverse group come into the Graduate Certificate of Careers Education and Development and the diversity and breadth of jobs in the field seems to be increasing. Many come with a social work or counselling background and a common thread with the group is a passion to work with people.
Dr. Susan Mate is an educator and researcher is the field of Career Development and Workplace learning. She is currently working as a Senior Lecturer @ RMIT University: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Che Jude
One key developmental activity in the lives of adolescents is making an appropriate career choice. Young people of all ages at different times must make transitions. The transition that they make, in one way or another, has an influence on their future personal and career lives. There is abundant literature on how career counselling influences students’ career indecision in developed countries contexts in general. Within the context of developing countries little research has been conducted (Maree, 2018). Whereas the transition from school to work or tertiary education is managed easily, and with success by most adolescents, many other students do struggle. More and more young people find it exceedingly difficult to make a career choice decision.
In South Africa there is a certain preconceived belief among people who live in marginalized communities that their way out of poverty and misery is by pursuing education trajectories that will lead to lucrative occupations and careers. The education and career aspirations of young people who live in these resource-constrained communities has become scripted in the culture and manifests in a set of values that direct the actions as well as the expectations of a group (Elwood & Murphy, 2015). Even though this script seems to have the potential to facilitate resilience and adaptation to structural inequity which plagues these communities, (Theron & Phasha, 2015), the post-school decisions made by young people are seldom informed by career counsellors (most students in resource-constrained communities do not have access to career counselling and for those who have, the service is expensive and they cannot afford it) and are normally prevented by the legacies of disadvantage (South African Council of Higher Education, 2010). The career-related decisions that the youth from black communities (seriously disadvantaged by the legacies of apartheid which continue into the present) can make are limited by the responsibility for the financial upkeep of their families and associated with increased psychological pressure.
In a visit to South Africa in 1988, Super stated that “Career development, for example, in some African and South Asian countries is really a matter of fitting into what the family needs” (Freeman, 1993, p. 263). No one is better situated than career development researchers and theorists to find innovative ways of deconstructing and reconstructing career development in South Africa so that it can assist in addressing various influences on individual career development. Championing career adaptability despite the circumstances that predict negative developmental outcomes (Masten, 2014) includes facilitating the capacity to negotiate multiple career and life transitions to withstand and/or accommodate career barriers and/or career turbulence that threaten to derail career journeys (Arora & Rangnekar, 2016).
The purpose of this study is to explore how life design-based counselling influences learners with career indecision who hail from resource-constrained communities. Students from two rural and poorly resourced high schools will participate in the research wherein a quasi-experimental group will be exposed to an intervention program that is based on life design counselling and a comparison group will be exposed to traditional career guidance as prescribed by the school curriculum.
A multilinear approach with constructivism as the research paradigm and career construction as the theoretical framework was utilized in developing an overall framework that underpinned the study. A mixed methods design was used to gather, analyze and report on qualitative and quantitative data related to the research questions in this study. Specifically, a pre-test/post-test comparison group design was used to construct quantitative data. The results of the Career Adapt-Abilities Scale (CAAS) (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012) and the Career Decision Difficulties Questionnaire (CDDQ) (Gati & Osipow, 2002) provided the quantitative data. Responses from the Career Interest Profile (CIP) (Maree, 2017), reflective journal entries, and focus group interviews provided qualitative data for this study.
I am still working on the quantitative data analysis. However, from a quick glance, there is not much change in outcomes between the pre-test and the post-test for both the CDDQ and the CAAS of the experimental and alternative groups.
With the qualitative data a majority of the 27 Grade 11 students who participated in the intervention reported that they benefited from the group counselling sessions. Below are excerpts of some of the responses two students who took part in the focus group interview. They responded to the question: “What has changed for you since the beginning of the intervention?”
Participant A: Before, I was so confused, I didn’t know after my matric what I am going to do, like to study and stuff like that, not because I don’t know what to do, but because I am good at many things. Like I am also confused I didn’t know what to choose and what I could choose… but after we did the questionnaires, I have realized my strengths and weaknesses. I do know, after matric what am I going to do. That is what has changed for me... I am going to focus on what I love doing, and that is music rapping. I will continue being a rapper, sir.
Participant B: What has changed in my schoolwork is that, first I didn’t do homeworks, like I used to do my homework in school early in morning and so on and so forth, but nowadays I do at home and those I don’t know I come… I come with them and people help me with them in school so that I can do them. And then, in the… after… before the program (intervention) I didn’t know the career I wanna do. I was so confused, I wanted to do three things which maybe I was not sure with them... Also, I wanted to be a financial accountant, I wanted to be a teacher, and I wanted to be a marketing person. So now I know… I think I know the things I wanna do. Maybe marketing will be good, because teaching is not for me and then Financial… Financial Management because Accounting is not easy for me nowadays because I don’t concentrate at school or in class whilst my teacher is teaching. So, maybe I will be doing… I will do Marketing for now. Sir, I will be sticking with Marketing now. And yeah… I am planning to study Marketing after Grade twelve.
Jude Che is a doctoral student in Educational Psychology at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Mr. Che worked as a middle and high school teacher in rural and marginalized communities for several years during which he developed an interest in assisting students unlock career challenges before switching to Educational Psychology. Mr. Che is currently working on his dissertation under the supervision of Prof. Kobus Maree. This article describes the main focus of his research.
By Ma. Corazon “Corie” M. Luz
The Harrison Career System strives hard to achieve inclusion and equality. First of all, it is quite comprehensive and includes 175 positive and negative factors. For instance, it measures task preferences as diverse as Artistic and Driving. Its 20-minute questionnaire has already been translated into 40+ languages, such as Thai and Turkish.
Founded in 1990, Harrison Assessments is propelled by the Enjoyment-Performance principle: Having a job doing what you love is the best route to self-actualization and success. But do their reports really avoid cultural biases? Are the results relevant to people of different ethnicities? Let’s hear what its proponents from different countries have to share.
The Philippine Experience
The Ateneo de Manila University is one of the oldest Jesuit institutions of higher learning in Asia. Placement and Career Director Ronald Rodriguez says that any freshman or senior students can approach their office to seek clarification on their calling in life. If deemed helpful, he and his fellow counselors invite them to undergo Harrison Career profiling. After using In five years of use with students, the reports tend to affirm the students’ genuine strengths and validate their career interests. Since the Philippines is one of the largest English-speaking countries in the world, Ateneans prefer to accomplish the questionnaire and read their reports in English.
Probably because the great majority take up management courses, one student was surprised that a blue-collar job like Prison Warden turned up in his results. Mr. Rodriquez’s advice to his counselees: Don’t focus merely on the Top 10 options that appear in your personal career navigator system. Look further down the list on your laptop or cellphone screen if these are not directly aligned with what you’re leaning towards.
Mr. Rodriquez continues: Take a look at the common behaviors that underpin the careers that come up for you with 75-100% enjoyment ratings. For example, if you enjoy exhibiting the trait called “Enforcing,” you can study to be a Lawyer and then major in a related field (like Criminal Law, perhaps). He advises them not to close doors because, sometimes, students may simply lack information about certain occupations. Being interactive, they can spend time exploring their own Harrison system report and read up on various career descriptions and educational requirements that interest them.
The Singaporean Experience
For more than five years, two groups of students from a global leader in education and research, the Nanyang Technological University, have been using Harrison Career Reports. The first group uses the technology on a self-service basis as part of an online learning module. They generate their profiles themselves and are guided by a video on how to understand their results.
For their so-called elite students, NTU arranges small workshops with external consultants like Positive Psychology Coach Karen Hee. This second group appreciates the value of these face-to-face interactions because their career reports gain greater meaning through frank discussions. The participants learn how to hone their own leadership skills, as well as to identify and groom others for leadership positions.
In these school engagements and in her private practice, Karen observes that many teenagers and young adults—whether they come from Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, or China—do not really know themselves. By listening carefully, she sets them on a path of self-discovery. Their Harrison reports push them to explore their true purpose in choosing a tertiary course—not simply what their parents or peers prefer or because of a tempting scholarship offer. To do so, she believes that what’s crucial is the knowledge and skill of a consultant in contextualizing the assessment results within a client’s specific cultural situation.
She tells the story of one graduate who achieved a Biosciences degree with honors, but he did not want to work in a related field. He was struggling and pretty lost as to what he should do. She pointed out that one of his Harrison Career options was: Youth Worker. He then applied and joined a Community Development Council and ended up really enjoying organizing youth camps to promote racial harmony.
The Australian Experience
Since 2016, there are now over ten thousand Grade 10 youths from both public and independent high schools in Queensland who complete the Harrison questionnaire every year—courtesy of TAFE (Technical and Further Education). Their Discover My Career – Powered by Harrison program seeks to provide “access to resources that enable students and their families to understand career options and to training and skill choices that put students on the right path to achieving their career ambitions.”
For Executive Coach and Leadership Consultant Colin Noyes, these 15–16-year-old students are a microcosm of the Australian population, which has been touted as having the 2nd most multicultural society on earth. He believes in starting them young in the quest for their mission in life. Early on, they are encouraged to discover which careers they find enjoyable so they can align their future studies to support these choices. Their Harrison reports initiate this structured exploration in a school setting, with educational staff and parental support.
The off-the-shelf Harrison Career System offers 700+ careers with which profilees’ personal preferences and interests can be compared and matched. Because the software can be customized, Mr. Noyes reports that TAFE Queensland has opened up the possibilities of an even wider variety of pathways across 1,300+ careers (such as in the aerospace, manufacturing, and solar energy industries, which are currently booming in their country). This smorgasbord spurs students to consider many more careers which they might enjoy but did not know about. TAFE’s research shows that, on average, students may only be familiar with a handful.
But whatever the culture, what seems universal is the undue influence that parents want to exert upon their children towards choosing the more financially rewarding professions. Mr. Noyes recounts how one girl’s Harrison Career Report listed Musician as a prime option, which was her strong inclination. Instead, her Mom and Dad were encouraging her to choose Medical Doctor, which was ranked much lower. Seeing their daughter’s results allowed the three of them to have a heart-to-heart conversation about her future. In the end, they respected her career aspirations. She is presently studying in a music conservatory, pursuing her passion. She is happy, her parents are happy, and they have a happy home. And isn’t that just the result that we wish a career assessment tool could create?
Ma. Corazon “Corie” M. Luz, Managing Director at Harrison Assessments, is a Clinical-Counseling Psychologist by training and a Human Resource Consultant by practice. She is based in the Philippines and works with Harrison Assessments clients there—as well as in the USA, China, and Southeast Asia.
Critical Success Factors for Guiding Adults in Career Transition (CT)
by Han Kok Kwang, APCDA’s 1st Legacy Partner Lifetime Member
Having facilitated career transition sessions for thousands of individuals of over 20 countries, from USA to China and Malaysia to Maldives, one key takeaway is this: Personal experiences of the clients matter more than country or culture.
I was fortunate to be in this privileged position because I was an MBA/MSc Lecturer in UK Universities offering programs in Singapore for almost 20 years. That’s where I met many of my international young adult students who came for their post-graduate studies because they hope to embark on a new career in a foreign country. As their lecturer cum mentor, career coaching service is part of the deal.
My private practice also afforded me the luxury to select who I work with, essentially individuals who are PHDs, ie. Passionate, Hungry and Driven:) Many people also approached me after I published my 2nd bestselling book, No Job? No Problem! in 2003.
Three key things I’ve learned about career transition for adults are as follows:
1. Be mindful of the lens through which they see the world, with the work environment and co-workers playing a significant part
For instance, I’ve been helping the good people from the uniformed services (eg. Military, Police, Civil Defence, Prison Service, etc.) career transit since 2005. Many of them have served with distinction for over 25 years, keeping our streets and skies safe. That’s the only job they’ve ever knew. When they come to me for CT help, many of them are already in their late 40s/50s. Thus, transiting to a new career in the civilian world is a scary and anxiety-filled experience for them. They feel so vulnerable and unprepared without their uniform and/or rank.
Though they may interact with civilians in their course of work and even attend corporate training programs with civilians together at hotels (eg. Six sigma or Agile training), going to work with civilians freaked them out. They are so fearful about the different language, (eg. “bottom-line and market share”), the expectations (eg. “Can’t leave until the job is done”), or the alien feeling of working for someone many years their junior.
“One company, for life” was their ethos. That’s why content is less important than context when we work with them. Instead of telling them to go digital or change their mindset, we simply meet them where they are. We empathise with them, feel their anxiety and see the world from their perspective, before we even start any CT talk. Afterall, they don’t care about how much we know until they know how much we care. Unless they trust us, no coaching happens.
2. Once we go international, we have to consider additional factors, like country, culture and language.
For instance, there was a specific client from the US. After working with her for a while, she asked me: “Why do you work so hard?” and “Why are you so driven?” On reflection, I realised that was primarily the achievement-driven culture in Singapore for many professionals. I had to be “more chill” to better connect with her.
I’m impressed when I worked with Vietnamese clients. They are one of the most respectful yet reticent people. They know their stuff, but are hesitant to speak up because they worry about their command of the English language. Thus, they find it very difficult to practice personal branding activities and standing out, in English.
The good people from China are a super hardworking group. They truly believe that effort can overcome virtually any weakness. I once had a client who memorized a company’s background from their annual report and website. But he didn’t do well at the interview because he couldn’t translate his “book knowledge” (information) into “performance indicators” (application) that matter to the company. Once he could connect the dots, he was unstoppable!
3. Use culture-neutral tools as far as possible
To help clients in making informed career decisions, self-knowledge is critical. This is where career self-assessments are useful. But given the plethora of tools in the market, we must select those that are more culture-neutral to ensure no distortion in translation or interpretation.
One of my preferred tools is the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI). It is physiologically based and thus, more neutral and stable than others. I’ve used it with participants from over 20 countries, and the results are consistently valid for them. It helped them to discover their preferred decision-making style, which is super useful for finding the type of work they enjoy. I also developed my own card game (ie. Han Discovery Cards), which are based on the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of most private sector companies.
Finally, to be effective career facilitators that inspire client confidence in CT, we must look at the lens with which our clients see the world, as well as the lens with which we see the world, and be mindful that the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world.
As Spidey said, with great power comes great responsibility
Dr. Timothy Hsi
When I was approached to write this article considering the impact of culture in career practice (especially that of theories and assessment instruments), it struck me that this topic is seldom discussed at length in the various career practitioner trainings across Asia. On reflection, I am thinking that this lack of emphasis could be due to the reason that individuals tend to operate within their own cultural bubble or the fact that culture is such a broad term that educators and practitioners naturally avoid discussing this due to its inherent complexity.
Every one of us has our own ideas and expression of our culture. Some may consider culture to be shared values embraced by society while others may consider culture to be customs, practices and ideas specific to a certain group of people (for example, individuals with a physical disability, or young adults entering the workforce, etc.). Whatever the case may be, I am of the opinion that career practitioners have to be conscious of the diverse cultural backgrounds that our clients may come from and it is imperative that we ground our career practice in culturally competent ways that are relevant to our clients.
When I first received training by Dick Knowdell in 2013, I was struck by the simplicity of the Knowdell career card sort assessments as well as the Knowdell Transition model as a coaching framework. At that time, I had not thought much about the cultural applicability of the tools and models as I was just eager to apply them in my practice. When I introduced the card sort assessments as part of my coaching work with clients, very few clients questioned me about its cultural validity or reliability. In fact, most clients readily took to sorting the cards as if they were playing a game and a significant number being completely amazed at the insight they derived from the results of the sorting.
From 2015, I have had the opportunity to provide career development training to practitioners across the Asia Pacific region (which includes Thailand, Vietnam, China, Philippines, Hong Kong, Korea, Indonesia & Australia) using the Knowdell Transition framework as well as the Knowdell Career Assessment instruments. In each of these trainings, I was initially hesitant due to (then irrational) thoughts on whether the Knowdell framework and card sort instruments would be culturally relevant to these participants. I was keenly aware that every participant operated from within their own cultural backgrounds and in order to sidestep the question of cultural relevancy, I endeavored to emphasize to participants that they needed to adapt career development knowledge, frameworks and assessment instruments into their client’s cultural context. Unwittingly, I was advocating for participants to transform what were non-Asian ideas of career development into approaches that are relevant for their client’s cultural background. On hindsight, this approach was aligned to the idea of having a mindset of cultural specificity (Watson, Duarte & Glavin, 2005) when working with clients from different cultural backgrounds. According to the authors, cultural specificity is a mental stance whereby the focus of any assessment starts from the client’s cultural point of view and any theory, framework or assessment instrument results would be interpreted from that vista.
So, if career practitioners are to adopt a cultural specific mindset when working with clients, what about the Knowdell tools that they are being trained to use? Weren’t the assessment instruments culturally biased, seeing that they were created and published by an American, who obviously operates from a Western worldview? Or are the tools truly culture-free as claimed by Dick (Knowdell, 2003)?
To answer this question, it is informative to explore the intent when Dick launched the Knowdell career assessment instruments in the late 70s. At that time, his goal was to make career assessment tools easily available for use by career practitioners and clients (Knowdell, 2003). The purpose then was to ensure that the assessments were easy to use, yet provided relevant information that was useful as part of the career facilitation process. Ever since the cards were first published in 1977 in English, there were requests for translations into other languages across the world. Over the years, the cards were translated into Russian, Spanish, German, Japanese and over the last five years, other Asian languages such as Mandarin (traditional and modern), Vietnamese and Bahasa Indonesia were included as well. The applicability of the Knowdell cards across the different cultures (as evidenced by the extensive list of translated tools) provided a glimpse to the claim that they were indeed culture-free.
Delving further, I started examining the career guidance processes adopted when I worked with clients from different cultural backgrounds and discovered that every time a client sorted the cards (whether they be values, skills or even ideas around leisure), they did so according to meanings of work which were defined by their own cultural background, practices and interpretations.
Let me share two examples to illustrate this. On separate occasions, I had worked with two different clients, one from the Philippines and the other from Australia. When presented with the opportunity to determine their career values using the Knowdell career values card sort, both chose ‘community’ as an important value that drives them. However, upon further probing, I found that my Filipino client had interpreted ‘community’ from his cultural value of collectivism while my Australian client interpreted ‘community’ from the cultural value of individualism. In both cases, the clients selected the same card from the same tool but arrived at different meanings due to the way they interacted with the word through their cultural lenses.
To answer the question ‘are Knowdell tools and coaching frameworks culture-free’? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. In fact, I would venture further to emphasize that every framework or assessment tool in the career space that we are in has the potential to be culture-free because the goal is to provide our clients with assessment results that are based on principles and values which are completely aligned to their cultural backgrounds.
In conclusion, as the world becomes ‘flatter’ (Friedman, 2005) and the technological disruptions continue to level the playing field, it is inevitable that career practitioners will increasingly work with clients who are not culturally similar to them. It is in this space that we need to fully embrace the mindset of cultural specificity and to actively transform the career knowledge, frameworks and tools that has been taught to us into culturally relevant practices so that our clients are able to make clear, informed choices regarding their career future.
Dr. Timothy Hsi is the Founding President of the Career Development Association of Singapore (CDAS) and founder of Abundanz Consulting Pte Ltd. He was instrumental in the development of a whole new generation of career practitioners in Singapore from 2015. Dr. Tim currently teaches career counseling and psychotherapy at the Australian College of Applied Psychology and travels regularly across Asia, educating and training individuals to be career practitioners.
by Dr. Catherine Hughes, Grow Careers, RMIT University, Australia
The diversity of countries and regions represented by APCDA brings cultural diversity and career assessment to the forefront. Many Career Development Practitioners deliver career services in multi-cultural contexts and as such are faced with the challenge of using career assessment tools that are culturally appropriate for clients (Rossier & Duarte, 2019).
It is almost 10 years since I completed by PhD research involving a cross-cultural study that set out to compare the influence of self-concept, parenting style, and individualism-collectivism on career maturity of high school students across Australian and Thai cultural contexts. The study involved adapting four psychological instruments for research across Australian and Thai cultural contexts, eliminating cultural bias and establishing the equivalence of the instruments in both cultures (Hughes, 2011). This aspect of the study illustrates some of the challenges involved in applying psychological instruments such as career assessment inventories developed in one language and culture to a second language and culture.
The Career Development Inventory-Australia (CDI-A; Lokan, 1984) was selected as the measure of career maturity for the purposes of the study. The CDI-A is comprised of four scales. The Career Planning (CP) scale measures orientation towards planning for future career pathways. The Career Exploration (CE) scale measures awareness and use of people, print, and digital resources for career exploration planning. The World of Work Information (WW) scale assesses knowledge of career development, occupations, education and training. The Decision Making (DM) scale presents career decision making scenarios and respondents choose the most appropriate response option.
This article describes the processes involved in adapting the CDI-A for use in Thailand and for valid comparison of career maturity across Thai and Australian cultural contexts. This will be followed by an invitation for APCDA members to submit blog articles about their experiences in developing, adapting or using culturally appropriate career assessments.
The adaptation of the CDI-A for Thailand was underpinned by the Universalist orientation to cross-cultural psychology (Berry et al., 1992). Accordingly, it was assumed that career maturity is likely to be similar across cultures, but is influenced by cultural context. The Universalist theoretical orientation compares with Relativism, which assumes that psychological differences between societies throughout the world can only be explained by the cultural context and Absolutism which assumes that psychological concepts are essentially the same and have the same meaning in all cultures. Relativism avoids adapting instruments for another culture, Absolutism readily adapts instruments for another culture. and Universalism supports the adaptation of psychological instruments after appropriate modifications are made to account for local cultural understandings (Berry et al.)
The adaptation of the CDI-A for Thailand applied Berry’s (1969) combined etic-emic model for adapting instruments for cross-cultural research. Etics refers to ideas, behaviours, concepts and other elements of culture that are universal, common, or culture-general. Etic concepts are assumed to be culture-free, or at least to apply in more than one culture. Emics refers to ideas, behaviours concepts and other elements of culture that are local, unique, or culture-specific (Triandis, 1994; Berry et al., 1992). The combined etic-emic approach involves transporting an instrument into the target culture as an ‘imposed etic’. Using an iterative process, changes are made to account for local cultural understandings with the aim of achieving a ‘derived etic’. When a ‘derived etic’ is achieved the instrument is considered suitable for application across the cultures concerned.
Applying the combined etic-emic approach to the adaptation of the CDI-A included these steps:
The combined etic-emic process described above resulted in the achievement of derived etic status across Thai and Australian cultural contexts for only the CP scale of the CDI-A.
The application of the Universalist approach to cross-cultural research and the combined etic-emic model of adapting the CDI-A for Thailand highlights the need for rigour and critical evaluation of the cultural applicability of career assessment instruments transported from one language and culture into a second language and culture.
Processes similar to those used to adapt the CDI-A for Thailand by eliminating cultural bias and establishing instrument equivalence are time-consuming and expensive to put into practice. Similarly, from a Relativist theoretical perspective, developing local, culture-specific career assessment instruments is also time-consuming and expensive. What are busy career practitioners working in multi-cultural or cross-cultural contexts to do? Leong and Serafica (2001) describe a cultural accommodation approach, which involves identifying cultural gaps in an existing theory or assessment tool, identifying and adding culture-specific aspects to accommodate the theory or assessment tool to the new culture, and testing the culturally accommodated theory or assessment tool to determine whether it has increased validity over and above the original. Rossier and Duarte (2019) recommend integrated approaches that go beyond quantitative career assessment, such as combining multiple approaches to career assessment or blending objective, subjective, contextual and cultural information.
You are invited to keep the conversation about career assessment and culture going during February, March and April. You are invited to contribute articles (approximately 600-1,000 words) for publication in Career Trends. Topics include:
Your articles can be emailed to: News@AsiaPacificCDA.org
Global career services shifted on November 16. Farouk Dey’s APCDA seminar shook me. If you missed it, click here to register for the free recording.
Most APCDA webinars provide interesting concepts causing us to evaluate our career work, or to cautiously implement the skills we learned. As experienced career practitioners with many tools we are most comfortable with the insights with which we were trained. Webinars nudge us to make small changes, but the change is typically gradual. Incorporating a new vision takes energy to overcome habits. Learning new tools requires study and overcoming resistance.
Dr. Dey’s webinar challenges us to unpack our thinking and fill it with some different tools. Are we willing to do that? What kind of leadership does he ask of us? When career needs are increasing and resources are stable at best, what outcomes will we obtain if we do more of the same?
Most career practitioners first think “work with clients one-on-one”. Will there ever be enough career practitioners to serve infinite career decision making needs with that mindset? We all see the need to serve more clients, scale programs, and provide more efficient human-centric services. A key is building structures so that every student is engaged in designing their careers.
Encouraging clients to make audacious choices, develop curiosity, seek inspiration, embrace self-direction, and access networks in order to connect to opportunity are now essential.
Join the dialog. Watch Dr Dey’s free webinar and discuss these ideas with other members and colleagues. How can these ideas be useful in your setting? I’m confident this discussion is especially relevant to our career services work. I’m so glad Farouk shook me.
Review of the Post-Pandemic Labor Market Panel Webinar
The first panelist was Mr. Rahul Nair, Co-Founder and Chief Lifologist, who is responsible for the Lifology software and assessments, as well as training Lifologists (career coaches). He pointed out how much has changed in India during the pandemic:
Our regional meetings predict an increase in the number of people who work from home in the future. Mr. Nair noted that, in India, working from home has led to a productivity decrease due to multigenerational homes with traditional family roles. Indian companies are now looking for “Work near home” arrangements. Employers are seeking low-cost office space for clusters of employees who live near each other so employees can separate home and work and have a good Internet connection.
Mr. Nair also shared a tantalizing list of Emerging Careers which you can see by watching the recorded webinar.
Dr. Hao Zhang, a Professor of Labor Relations at Renmin University in Beijing, described two relevant structures in the Informal Sector in China. The Informal Sector is helping to provide stability in the labor market in China because the large employers in the Formal Sector have been deeply hurt by the pandemic. As in most countries, companies such as Uber and Air B&B have connected informal, temporary workers to customers, create the “Gig Economy.” 78 Million Chinese workers are now believed to be informal, temporary workers.
A new, different kind of temporary worker has emerged in China during the pandemic. Like most countries, parts of the economy that are heavily impacted by the pandemic can no longer pay their employees. Yet other parts of the economy need workers. If the employer can find temporary work for its own employees, then the closed business and the laid-off workers are both happy. For example, many restaurants are closed, but grocery stores need extra stock clerks to keep the shelves filled. If the restaurant can “share” its workers with a local grocery, the employees earn a living, but still expect to return to their former jobs post-pandemic.
Dr. Fei Yu, Deputy Representative in the North American Office of the Asian Development Bank, offered many important insights into the nature of the labor market in Asia. One of several important concepts that she mentioned is the concept of Global Blockchain. The global blockchain technology industry is currently valued at 3 million USD but growing rapidly. This technology allows information about products (source, purity, harvest conditions, etc.) to be related to the product no matter where it ends up and which currencies were used to price it. Global suppliers and shippers need this technology to trace transactions to avoid the confusion related to currency conversion, government regulations, agreements between parties, etc. For example, assume you are purchasing thousands of facemasks and comparing prices, quality, size, on-time reputation of manufacturer, etc. in India, China, Malaysia, etc. The number of variables could be overwhelming. It would be convenient to see all of the specifications for each facemask in your own local currency, local system of measurement, etc. on a single list on a computer screen. Of course, Blockchain is much more, but that is part of what it can do. It also makes it possible to compare productivity, labor costs, etc. in the many countries in our region.
This is only a tiny glimpse of the topics covered in this fast-moving webinar. The webinar was recorded and is free to members. Non-members pay a small fee to watch it. Click here to view the recorded webinar.
by Satomi Chudasama
COVID-19 came upon us very quickly, and we were caught off guard. It turned our world upside down, and some of our “normal” became a thing of the past. With a rapidly changing economic and employment landscape, many of the Class of 2020 college graduates are faced with uncertainty about their post-graduation plans. Some are now considering an alternative plan instead of seeking full-time employment. Call it a “gap-year,” “a time-off”, or “taking a break” - whatever it is, this is potentially an option for some graduates until they identify their next move.
As a career development professional supporting those new college graduates, you might ask what they can do during this time before pursuing full-time employment. To put it simply, the answer is “many options.” Of course, each graduate has a unique situation. Their situations may be impacted by multiple factors, including their family circumstances, country’s economic and political situations, cultural norms, self and family expectations, and so on. What seems like a good option for someone may not be an option for someone else. There is nothing like “one size fits all.” As career development professionals, we need to think creatively and flexibly and work together with your students to develop an individualized, viable plan. Help your students reframe the way they look at “post-graduation” plans. Here are some ideas:
No matter what your students decide to do, two things remain important: self-reflection and networking. As many of us are aware, career paths are rarely linear. Why does this happen? As we manage our own career development and growth in the 21st century, we are more inclined to consciously change our workplaces and careers based on constant self-reflection and evaluation. This process does not have to wait until your students have first full-time employment. In fact, this flexible time is a great opportunity for self-exploration and reflection. What is important for them, what motivates and inspires them, what they enjoy, what they are good at, who they really are, what they want to be, etc. are all great realizations worthy of journaling and being considered for their next stage of career journeys. They are likely to have more time to internally stay close to themselves and might find some eye-opening aspects of themselves. These findings will fuel their aspirations for the future. While journaling, it is also helpful to make notes of learning and negative findings, e.g., what they didn’t like, what disappoints and discourages them, what environment hinders their strengths and enthusiasm. Journaling does not have to involve a notebook. They can also use a worksheet created by you or your students, a whiteboard or Trello board with categories of interests, skills, values, accomplishments, etc. and organize their thoughts, learning, and realizations.
Networking is a great way to explore themselves while gathering information, knowledge, and advice and getting to know others. My definition of networking is not limited to professional contacts. Rather, it includes anyone and everyone your students encounter. Encourage your students to be curious and ask about other people’s life stories. They will learn a tremendous amount of insights into different perspectives, career and life options, career trajectories, and life experiences in general. And motivate your students to stay in touch with all of them - literally all of them - to a point that they feel comfortable with contacting each other any time. That is the genuine power of networking - not superficial contacts you may awkwardly reach out to only when you are in a job market. The relationship I am referring to here is powerful and lasts long.
Finally, I urge you, as a career development professional, to stay in touch with your students as much as possible. Let them know that you are available to support them through their journeys, be their sounding board and adviser, and provide helpful resources. You do not know when and how they need you in the coming months. As career development professionals, we are in this together with your students and can help them emerge from this uncertain time with new strengths.
Satomi Chudasama, NCC, CCC, GCDF, is a founding member of APCDA and the current chair of the Public Relations Committee. Originally from Japan, she has been working in the career development field in higher education institutions in the United States for almost 20 years. Satomi is passionate about helping people identify and pursue their career aspirations as well as global career development and cultural transitions. She is currently working in the Office of Career Services at Princeton University where she has spent 13 years in career counseling and employer engagement.
Post-Pandemic World of Work
Virtual Regional Member Discussions
by Marilyn Maze, PhD
The Virtual Regional Member Discussions began with the Western North America Region on May 11. Europe and West Asia Region met on May 13, Middle East Region met on May 16, and South India Region met on May 17. Click here for a schedule of up-coming meetings. So far, many valuable insights have been shared and attendees enjoyed the experience.
Many of the insights shared relate to the current situation. Rapidly changing painful situations make it difficult to focus on the future. In the Western North America region, we noted the breakdown of the global distribution system has forced rapid adaptation, such as new mask making companies, local farms or fishers selling direct to homes, and adoption of new management techniques to supervise people working from home. Counselors and career practitioners are essential workers right now, and busier than ever trying to help students and clients virtually. With children attending school from home, parents are involved in helping their children in new ways. Parents now need help learning about career planning and understanding career terminology. One of the skills highly valued in our field is Systems Thinking. We can now see that some governments are using Systems Thinking successfully and others are failing to use it.
COVID attacks older people more severely, forcing older people to self-isolate. Ageism is increasing as older people either adapt to online communication or become increasingly isolated. The Urban/Rural Divide has become more obvious. Many people in cities have Internet, but many rural areas do not. In cities, social distancing means staying inside. In rural areas, much of life is lived outside and people travel long distances for groceries and other necessities. At the same time, poverty is highlighted. Unemployment in the US is now 15% – the highest unemployment since the Great Depression. Hiring at this time is mostly for delivery drivers, grocery workers, and contact tracers. Children with computers have been learning online, but children without computers or Internet access are not learning. People who can work from home are much more likely to be educated. In the US, over 60% of people with a college degree can work from home, while people with less education are often “frontline workers” – exposed daily to COVID as they work in essential businesses, deliver food and purchases to homes, work in hospitals, and provide other essential services. Minorities and low-paid workers are getting sick and dying at much higher rates than non-minorities.
How many of these changes will continue post-COVID?
Once the world has become increasingly virtual, it is likely that it will not go back. The Twitter company has announced that its employees are welcome to continue working from home permanently. It is likely many other tech companies will follow. Of course, this is bad news for Commercial Real Estate rental, sales, and construction. It may also be bad news for extroverts, while introverts may have an advantage in the new virtual world. When will we again hold large gatherings such as live performances, sports events, and conferences? When will we again travel internationally for pleasure, or even for business? Certainly, the entertainment and hospitality industries will be slow to recover, and it may be a long time before they reach pre-pandemic levels.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues forward. People working in this field easily adapted to working from home and we can expect new uses of AI to change our lives at a rapid rate. In fact, COVID may have boosted the rate of change by forcing us to adapt rapidly, thus accelerating our ability to adapt to and adopt new technologies. Good communication skills will also be in demand, whether to help others understand the information produced by AI or to teach others to use new technology. Luckily, career practitioners have good communication skills.
Change will be a constant. People who adapt well to change will increasingly be rewarded financially. Those who do not adapt to change will be financially disadvantaged. We often talk about the Gig Economy and train clients to decide who they are so they can select meaningful “gigs” or projects which help them learn new skills while earning a decent income. We say that these people have Self-Sustaining Careers. We increasingly encourage clients to start boutique businesses that serve specific needs on a small scale, such as small farms producing high quality food, small hotels serving specific populations, or small services meeting specific needs. Some of these boutique businesses meet needs that are surprisingly common and grow into large companies. An essential skill for entrepreneurship is Self-Efficacy.
In the US, corporations currently employ large numbers of temporary workers. This name is misleading because the work is not temporary. The work done by temporary workers constantly increases, but workers hired on a temporary basis do not have benefits (such as health insurance), do not have a regular schedule, are paid as little as possible, and are only paid when they work. Some estimate that temporary workers make up as much as 40% of the US labor market, although no data is collected. Because their schedule changes constantly, they cannot train for a better job. When these workers get sick, they have no income and no way to pay for health care. Many frontline workers are temporary workers, so a high proportion of COVID cases are in this group. Through a temporary workforce, risk is transferred from the employer to the employee. Temporary workers have the least resources to cope with risk, but they bear the highest risk. As COVID-related corporate bankruptcies increase, many more workers are likely to join the temporary workforce. Many career practitioners are deeply concerned about this population as the situation worsens.
As the world changes rapidly, Trust Communities gain in value. Many people choose to work with companies (banks, grocery stores, etc.) who they trust to treat them well, to live in communities of like-minded people who they trust to have similar values, and to help others in their community who need their help. Schools and Colleges often strive to develop trust communities, so their students feel comfortable and safe developing skills in these institutions.
Hope is extremely helpful during stressful times. If we can help clients to engage with a hopeful attitude, this attitude will open opportunities for them.
What changes are you seeing now and in the future? Join the discussion in your region and share your insights.
by Allan Gatenby, FRIEdr FRIM CMF JP
Globally member-based organizations are struggling to keep the members engaged. It seems that globally people have developed a mindset that you pay a membership fee to receive a service. Yet we also know from Linda Hill’s research the organizations which thrive in times of rapid change are those in which leaders are architects of a culture of collaboration. If we know this why is it that so many organizations are struggling to survive rather than thrive?
This year I was award the President’s Award for services to APCDA. This is a great honour and I humbly making the comment that I never set out with the intent of being recognized. Rather I was raised in the belief that if something is worth doing then do it well, the first time. Also, I watched my parents live their life very much in the spirit of St Francis of Assisi; “it is in giving that we receive.” Each, in their own way dedicated themselves to serving the community. This was to be their legacy and my guide.
I have had a remarkably fortunate life, full of opportunity and countless challenges. The one thing that has kept me young is to contribute to a greater good. I was never comfortable with the idea that the centre of my universe is me. The me view and teaching tended to overlook the importance of we. In fact, collegiality and comradeship were the only things that enabled me to be resilient and thrive, personally and professionally.
Try this simple experiment; get a bag of sand, rice, soil, flour (whatever is convenient) and with 1 hand scoop up as much from that bag as you can. Place that on some measuring scales. You now know the mass of material gathered by 1 hand. Repeat this using the other hand and place that on the same scales. You now know the mass of material of 2 hands working independently. Now using both hands, working together as they are designed to do, scoop up as much of that material and measure the mass of the 2 hands working together. No surprises here. 2 hands working together achieves much more. So, it is with people. Together Everyone Achieves More (TEAM).
In our world motivation and education has been built around competition. Collaboration is poorly understood and difficult to embed. The donkey cartoon helps us to unpack the essentials of collaboration. Humans, like the donkeys, are typically competitive. They strive to satisfy their own needs before and often, at the expense of others. However, in high performing teams’ competitive tendencies are focussed upon the task and the solution focusses upon collaboration. As in the cartoon competitiveness continues until the team members stop, sit, talk, plan, and presumably decide how to work together so that they both achieve their goal (agreement). What is often overlooked is the significance of risk taking and trust in the relationship. At least one of the parties takes the risk that the other will honour their agreement. Collaboration requires analytical skills, communication, acceptance, decision making, risk taking and ultimately trust. This is quite a different mindset to that of the competitor mindset.
In order to collaborate, partners need what Covey referred to as abundance mentality. Ben Zander talks about the art of possibility. Both are referring to the process of creative new thoughts whilst retaining the original idea. If I were to ask you, “is 1+1=3 true or false?” most would answer false. We have been taught well by our teachers and life that 1+1=2. Yet if I were to ask you “could 1+1=3 then the answer can be yes. We can think of lots of examples which all demonstrate creativity, abundance mentality and the art of possibility. Synergistic thinking, new creation, innovation are elements of entrepreneurship, that which we are increasingly called upon to help develop.
APCDA is an amazing professional community. Founded on passion, collegiality, goodwill and outreach it has quickly grown to a significant body with Asia Pacific. Leadership has and remains focussed upon building community and collegiality. The key challenge remains, how best to engage members. Triggered by receiving the President’s Award and reflecting upon my experience I share these key ideas:
Consider the possible outcomes of contributing to the Association. Write an article, phone a friend, create a discussion group, post a blog, reach out for ideas thoughts, partnership. Give something. The act of giving will be returned many-fold.
Look for a team, a partner. Adopt, embrace and advocate collaboration. Yes, we are competitors in a sense (especially private practitioners) but like the left and the right hand when we work together, each from our own orientation perspective, the outcome is always greater than if working alone. Working together lightens the load, creates abundance and enables us to think and live beyond our individual experience.
Create moments and opportunities to sit, discuss, plan, take a risk and hand I hand help each other. Collaboration is not difficult, and the rewards are exponentially abundant.
Set yourself a goal that you will make at least 1 contribution, share 1 professional insight to the Association each year. You will be amazed at what happens.
Allan Gatenby is a private practitioner with a long and extraordinarily successful career in educational leadership, career development and life-design coaching. His postgraduate work is in leadership and change. He was a facilitator in both the Franklin Covey Institute and the Glasser Institute. He is the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Institute of Career Certification International, Member of the Leadership Team APCDA, chairing the Committee Council and By-Laws Committee. He is Director of OneGroup Leadership and Associated Career Professionals International.
By Han Kok Kwang
Director, Personal Mastery Resources
1st Legacy Partner Lifetime Member, APCDA
From experience, Health Outbreaks like SARS (8,000 affected) and the coronavirus: COVID-19 (70,000+ affected to date) often trigger multilateral issues, involving economic, business, medical and personal concerns.
Governments in affected economies have been prompt in handling public information and announcements on what the public should (wash hands often, monitor health, wear a mask when unwell, etc.) and should not do (panic) amid a health scare. Though it is still evolving, economies are already hurting from this Outbreak.
Though the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s experience with SARS 18 years ago tells us that the Asia-Pacific has the wherewithal to cope with such events, it is a different ballgame today. China accounts for 21.4 percent of world GDP (in Purchasing Power Parity, as of end-2018) compared to around 4.5 percent during the SARS outbreak. What happens in China now has almost 5X the impact on the world, compared to the days of SARS.
Being the de facto Factory of the World, China is a key link for many international supply chains. With increased interconnectedness of the global economy, the impact is amplified many times. Prior to COVID-19, US’s trade war with China has already disrupted the region. Now it’s gotten worse. Lower Chinese import demand is a key reason for the slowing growth in virtually the whole region.
Asia-Pacific currencies also tumble under the weight of coronavirus, with Australia and Thailand the worst hit on concern over Chinese demand for minerals and tourism. Christy Tan, Asia head of markets strategy and research at Melbourne-based banking group NAB, said “From a trade war to a war against a virus. It’s a shock to financial markets, to the global growth situation.”
China’s 168 million citizen-tourists in 2019 was also a major revenue source for tourism sectors of many countries. There is already an observed decline in travel and tourism, including the APCDA Conference 2020 in India. The collateral damage on retail, hospitality receipts and transport sales are expected to reverberate around the world.
In the words of the Prime Minster of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong: "The impact will be significant at least in the next couple of quarters. It is a very intense outbreak. I can't say whether we will have a recession or not. It's possible, but definitely our economy will take a hit. Business at the renowned Changi Airport had suffered with flights down by a third.”
In summary, it’s going to be a long night.
The good news? There’ll be a morning after.
Economies will bounce back, like they always do.
Key lesson learnt?
This Outbreak will not be the last. Fear is a natural human emotion. But we cannot be paralyzed by fear, which is False Evidence Appearing Real. When in doubt, always look for objective evidence.
While COVID-19 has dominated the media, that vigilance should be balanced with the understanding that influenza is more prevalent and much more likely to impact Americans, says Libby Richards, an associate professor of nursing in Purdue University’s School of Nursing.
The surveillance report for the week ending February 1, 2020, shows flu activity increased in many reporting areas in the US. The report also shows 22 million Americans have suffered from the flu, and that 12,000 adults and 78 children have died during this flu season, which began in October 2019. This shows that economies also have local concerns, in addition to the COVID-19 Outbreak.
Life must go on. As progressive Career Practitioners, we must be ready when the Sun shines again. We are the talent scouts and keepers of the faith. Yes, take all the necessary precautions we need but downtime is the best time for us to dig in, do the work and get ready for the upturn.
Embrace digital wholeheartedly. Leverage Artificial Intelligence to enhance our offerings. Learn how to provide career services even when we cannot do it face to face. Doing so will stand us in good stead because contactless career guidance will figure prominently in the Future of Work, with or without an Outbreak.
Catherine Hughes. PhD
It is generally accepted that individuals need to be adaptable to succeed in the contemporary world of work characterized by changing skills requirements, short-term contract work, less secure work arrangements, technological change and more. The concept of career adaptability has featured prominently in the career development literature in recent years. But where did this concept come from? What is career adaptability? How can career practitioners apply career adaptability to support their clients?
Origins of Career Adaptability
Career adaptability first appeared in the career development literature when the usefulness of career maturity for adult career development was questioned. Career maturity refers to career choice readiness and methods of coping with age-appropriate vocational development tasks (Super, 1990). Adaptation to vocational development tasks rather than maturation was considered to be the central process of adult career development (Super & Knasel, 1981). Adaptation accounts more adequately than maturation for the recycling through life stages and revisiting vocational development tasks that adults do when they are faced with expected or unexpected career transitions at varying times throughout their working life. This prompted Super (1983) to reserve career maturity for adolescent career development and recommend career adaptability as the corresponding term for adult career development. In more recent times questions were raised about the relevance of career maturity in diverse and multicultural contexts where contextual factors may influence the timing and nature of the vocational development tasks that adolescents face (Watson, 2008). Concerns such as this resulted in career adaptability being generalized across the life-span as the central career development process for children, adolescents and adults (Savickas, 1997).
Career Adaptability Now
Over the last decade career adaptability has been explained in career construction theory (Savickas, 2013) and has been widely researched (Johnston, 2018 ). Career construction theory proposes that the adaptation that is required to fit oneself to a new environment or changing context results from a sequence of:
In career construction theory, career adaptability is one element of adaptation. More specifically, Savickas and Porfeli (2012, p. 662) define career adaptability as “… a psychosocial construct that denotes an individual’s readiness and resources for coping with current and anticipated tasks, transitions, and traumas in their occupational roles …” Career adaptability is comprised of four dimensions, or career adapt-ability resources (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012):
In essence, people who show concern about their vocational future, who believe they have some control over it and are deliberate and decisive in dealing with vocational development tasks, transitions and work traumas, who are curious about possible future selves and work scenarios and who feel confident about their capacity to implement their goals possess the internal coping resources to respond with fitting behaviors to new or changed career circumstances.
“Increasing a person’s career adaptability resources, or career adapt-abilities is a central goal in career education and counseling” (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012, p. 663). Accordingly, career adaptability is a construct of great importance to the everyday work of career practitioners.
Applying Career Adaptability
The Career Adapt-Abilties Scale (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012) was developed in collaboration with researchers from 13 different countries. This instrument is freely available from www.vocopher.com. The Career Adapt-Abilties Scale is comprised of 24 items and yields a total career adapt-abilities score. The first six items relate to the Concern Dimension, the next six items relate to the Control Dimension, the next six relate to the Curiosity Dimension and the final six items relate to the Confidence Dimension. This means that scores for each career adaptability dimension can be calculated to more precisely identify student or client career adaptability strengths and career adaptability resources that need further development.
The Career Adapt-Abilities Scale can be used to support career interventions in one-to-one career counseling, group career counseling, career education workshops or career classes. For example:
In summary, career adaptability is a career development construct that is associated with career construction theory. It is highly relevant to the day-to-day work of career practitioners. The Career Adapt-Abilities Scale is freely available and can be used in a variety of ways to assess and enhance student or client career adaptability and their capacity to respond appropriately to vocational development tasks, career transitions and work traumas throughout life.
Hughes, C. (2017). Careers work in schools: cost-effective career services. Samford Valley, Queensland, Australia: Australian Academic Press Group.
Johnston, C. S. (2018). A systematic review of the career adaptability literature and future outlook. Journal of Career Assessment, 26, 3-30. DOI; 10.1177/1069072716679921.
Sampson, J. P., Reardon, R. C., Peterson, G. W. & Lenz, J. G. (2004). Career counseling & services: A cognitive information processing approach. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole – Thompson Learning.
Savickas, M. L. (1997). Career adaptability: An integrative construct for life-span, life-space theory. The Career Development Quarterly, 45, 247-259.
Savickas, M. L. (2013). Career construction theory and practice. In S. B. Brown & R.W. Lent (2013). Career development and counseling: Putting theory and research to work (2nd ed., pp. 147-183). Hoboken: NJ, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Savickas & Porfeli (2012). Career Adapt-Abilities Inventory: Construction, reliability, and measurement equivalence across 13 countries. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80, 661-673. DOI: 10.1016/j.jvb.2012.01.011
Super, D. E. (1983). Assessment in career guidance: Toward truly developmental counseling. The Personnel and Guidance Journal, 61, 555-562.
Super, D. E. (1990). A life-span, life-space approach to career development. In D. Brown and L. Brooks (Eds.), Career choice and development: Applying contemporary theories to practice (2nd ed., pp. 197-261). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc.
Super, D. E. & Knasel, E. G. (1981). Career development in adulthood: Some theoretical problems. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 9, 194-201.
Watson, M. B., (2008). Career maturity assessment in an international context. In J. Athanasou & R. van Estbroeck. International handbook of career guidance (pp. 511-523). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer-Science.
By Shelley Tien
According to Mark Savickas and Erik Porfeli (Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80-3, 2012), “Researchers from 13 countries collaborated in constructing a psychometric scale to measure career adaptability. Based on four pilot tests, a research version of the proposed scale consisting of 55 items was field tested in 13 countries. The resulting Career Adapt-Abilities Scale (CAAS) consists of four scales, each with six items. The four scales measure concern, control, curiosity, and confidence as psychosocial resources for managing occupational transitions, developmental tasks, and work traumas.” The CAAS is available free in English on Vocpher.com (http://vocopher.com/CareerTests.cfm).
I participated in this study, conducting my research in Taiwan and Macau. There are now versions translated in many different languages in different countries. For Chinese, there are three versions: China (Ho), Taiwan (Tien, available at http://web.ntnu.edu.tw/~lantien/journals/The_Career_Adapt-Abilities_Scale-_The_Psychometric_Characteristics_and_Construct_Validity_of_the_Taiwan_Form.pdf), and in Macao (Tien, et.al available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260044423_The_Career_Adapt-Abilities_Scale_in_Macau_Psychometric_Characteristics_and_Construct_Validity).
The Career Adapt-Ability Scale has 24 items which assess four subscales: Concern, Control, Confidence, and Curiosity. Another subscale, Cooperation, also with 6 items developed by Savickas, was deleted in the world-wide version because the results for this scale were not distinct from the other four subscales. I think the idea of Cooperation is important in Chinese collective culture. One day in Shanghai Normal University, I met Dr. Fred Leong and shared this idea. He totally agreed and we then did a cross country analysis based in the five scales, cooperation included. The results indicated that the five-scale version was also supported. The paper was published in the Journal of Career Assessment.
Many master’s level research theses were conducted in Taiwan based on the CAAS. Most of them describe factors related to using the CAAS. For example, one studied the relationship among career self-efficacy, career adaptability, and work adjustment for adult workers in Taiwan (Chinese version with English abstract is available at http://agc.ncue.edu.tw/text37.1-2). Another study proposed to explore the relationship among career calling, career adaptability, and career satisfaction of teachers with different demographic backgrounds. This study used a set of inventories which measure each of these factors separately. The model proposed that there is a causal relationship among career calling, career adaptability, and career satisfaction. A causal relationship was confirmed by the data, among other interesting findings. These results were published in the newsletter of the Taiwan Career Development and Consultation Association, in Chinese (http://www.tcdca.org/?p=3027). Contact me at Research@AsiaPacificCDA.org if want to know more about these or other findings.