06/01/2003

The 6 Stages of Modern Career Development

by Michelle L. Casto

Adapted from the book, "Get Smart! About Modern Career Development: A Personal Guide to Creating Your Life's Work" by Michelle L. Casto

By now we all have heard that people will change careers (not just jobs) 5-7 times in a lifetime. This being true, career management is an important life skill to develop and cultivate. According to "Get Smart! About Modern Career Development", there are six stages of modern career development: Assessment, Investigation, Preparation, Commitment, Retention, and Transition. As career development professionals, it is important that we are aware of what occurs in each stage as well as what part emotions play. As you read through this basic outline, notice which stage you feel best qualified to work with clients on and in which stage you need to gain more confidence. Take note of the activities and tools you use to help clients successfully navigate from one stage to the next.

In the Assessment Stage, you are getting ready for your life's work. This stage is characterized by unawareness, in that you are not sure what your values, strengths, and weaknesses are. You start to feel like you want to know more about yourself and make a conscious effort to get in touch with who you really are.
Key Tasks:

  • Taking assessment instruments
  • Working with a career counselor or career coach



In the Investigation Stage, you are researching what work exists in the world. This stage is characterized by feelings of confusion, in that you are not sure what career options exist for you. You may feel overwhelmed with all of the different jobs and opportunities that exist as you begin the process of researching the modern world of work. But if you approach this stage with a positive frame of mind, you will find that you will learn about many possibilities you may have never considered.
Key Tasks:

  • Researching the world of work
  • Conducting informational interviews with people in your chosen field



In the Preparation Stage, you are still getting ready to do your life's work. This stage is characterized by feelings of excitement, as you think of how wonderful it will be to perform meaningful work. However, there is still much work to be done, and in order to be successful, you have to be prepared.
Key Tasks:

  • Gaining knowledge and experience
  • Setting goals and adopting a success-oriented mind-set


In the Commitment Stage, you feel confident, in that you have figured out what you are meant to do. Sometimes people have known all along what they were meant to do, but were not able to commit to the process of making it happen. At this stage, more than ever, you must focus your energy and keep your eye on the target.
Key Tasks:

  • Conducting a job search
  • Negotiating and accepting a job offer



In the Retention Stage, you feel comfortable in your career field, as you now have figured out how things work in your industry. You may want to remain committed to your career by continually updating your skill set and staying current with industry standards.
Key Tasks:

  • Providing first-class customer service skills
  • Building a professional network



The Transition Stage is characterized by feelings of discomfort, in that you are unsure of what you will be doing next (and/or if you will be happy). In this stage, you learn to make conscious changes in your career direction.
Key Tasks:

  • Making career changes
  • Developing resiliency



When making a career decision, most people progress through each stage in a circular fashion. But it is common for people to go back and forth between stages as they gather more information about themselves, the world of work, and as they begin aligning their career decision with their age, developmental stage, and life goals. It is safe to say that no matter what career stage you find yourself (or your clients) in now, you can be sure that you (and they) will enter and re-enter these six stages many times throughout a lifetime.

***Ms. Casto will be leading a roundtable discussion on the 6 stages of modern career development at the "Career Development Across the Lifespan" 2003 conference in Denver.


Michelle L. Casto is a whole life coach, speaker, and author of Get Smart! About Modern Romantic Relationships, Get Smart! About Modern Career Development, and Get Smart! About Modern Stress Management. Her coaching practice is Brightlight Coaching, she helps people come up with bright ideas for their life and empowers them to freely shine their bright light to the world. Contact her for a free 30 minute coaching session: www.getsmartseries.com and www.brightlightcoach.com. Educate & Empower Yourself! with the Get Smart! Live Smart ezine. Subscribe: getsmarter-subscribe@yahoogroups.com


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