Knowledge Of The Career Development Process Helpful To Candidates

  By Frank Burtnett  |    Monday August 28, 2023

Category: Columns, Education, Productivity, Recruiting


EMinfo Reader:  Why is knowledge of the career development process helpful to candidates for job entry and change.


Dr. Burtnett: Several times over the many columns that I have contributed here, I have addressed the importance of understanding the career development process. The fact that I am personally in the process of winding down and exiting my role as an EMInfo column and other tasks at the end of 2023 offers me an excellent opportunity to emphasize the importance of this complete life-stage transition:


Clueless Candidates ~ What Do They Need to Know about the Career Development Process?

by Frank Burtnett, Ed.D.

There are certain pieces of knowledge that can facilitate the transitions in our individual lives. Some of that knowledge we acquire casually as the result of a real life experiences, often “hands on” exposures, or it shared with us by parents, family or friends. Still other bits of knowledge come our way through our formal educational  and career experiences. 

I am a firm believer that people at all life stages---certainly from adolescence on---need to know something about the career development process. That knowledge has to be both general (what happens to everybody) and specific (how it applies to them).

Unfortunately, too many are clueless about a critical process that each will have to navigate multiple times throughout their life. Candidates for employment (first, second or umpteenth job) need to know where they’ve been, where they are now and what lies ahead for them in the future. Regrettably, too many acquire this knowledge reactively or after the fact. A better way is to learn it up-front so the individual can be proactive in piloting their personal experiences.


A primer in career development would begin with these three knowledge points:

1. Career development is a process that parallels human growth and development, a series of unique experiences that span childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, adulthood and the senior years. 

2. Our ability to understand what is happening or will happen in each of these stages can determine the degree to which we can guide or control (be proactive) or mend and fix (be reactive or remedial) what is occurring in our work lives.

3. Every person is going experience the follow eight stages of the career development process:


  • Self-awareness
  • Exploration
  • Goal-setting
  • Decision-making
  • Knowledgeskill acquisition and competency attainment
  • Orientation, entry and adjustment*
  • Growth, mobility, and maintenance*
  • Wind-down, adjustment and exit*


While search and staffing professionals are more likely to interface with candidates at the stages marked with an asterisk (*) above, it must be noted that these eight stages seldom occur in linear, one-stop-and-move-on fashion. They are cyclical and often repeated as one moves through their life experiences. 

If the career development process sounds complex, put it in perspective by imagining your personal transition through the eight stages to where you are presently. In Career Challenges: Straight Talk about Achieving Success in the Technology Driven, Post COVID World of Work, Third Edition (2022) / Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group), I go into considerable detail about the stages and how knowledge of “what happens when” can aid any individual in moving forward positively and efficiently.

There is an old idiom: “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” When it comes to career development---it certainly can.

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