Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
This book presents and explores a career management model portrayed as an active lifelong problem‐solving process. This entails collecting information, gaining insight into oneself and one's environment and developing strategies to achieve one's goals. This 4th edition of the book is written by three professors of management in US universities whose background is mainly in the field of organisational behaviour.
Without prioritising a specific target group, the authors state that this book addresses a number of different audiences. First, they state that it is ideal for “all individuals” who want to learn about career dynamics and how to manage their careers. Second, the book can be used as a primary or supplementary text for undergraduate and graduate courses in careers, human resource management, organisational behaviour, psychology and education. Thirdly, human resource professionals can use this book to develop career management programmes in their organisations. Finally, the book is written for those whom the authors describe as their “peers” – researchers in career management and decision making” – on the basis that it pulls together recent research on career management and stimulates further research.
To meet the different target groups mentioned above, the book sets out to maintain a balance between theory and the application of theory. Thus as well as discussing theoretical concepts, the book also presents practical career management steps or actions to be taken by an individual or an organisation. To develop career management skills, exercises and assignments are provided in the different chapters of the book. To aid comprehension of the ideas presented each chapter has a well‐written summary.
The book is divided into four parts. Part I deals with the career management process from theoretical and practical application perspectives. It presents the authors' career management model and how to implement it. The second part of the book entitled “Stages of career development” first deals with making an occupational choice at the beginning of one's career before going on to examine issues arising in the early, middle and late stages of one's career. Part III deals with three contemporary problematic issues in career management: job stress and careers; the intersection of work and family roles; and managing diversity in organisations. A fourth issue dealt with in Part III is entrepreneurial careers. Part IV entitled “Career management in work organisations” looks at the role of strategic human management systems in facilitating career management.
This book is a very useful text for a human resource development professional wishing to gain an up‐to‐date overview of classical and recent research on the theory and practice of career management. It is encyclopaedic in its treatment of the career management topics covering all traditional classical theories, such as those of Holland (1997), Super (1957) and Levinson et al. (1978) but also addressing how these theories have evolved and discussing modern problematic issues surrounding work and careers. It does not leave an issue uncovered, exploring current issues causing turbulence in people's careers such as job stress, work‐life balance and being laid off in mid‐career. The book is very well written and the headings of the different sub‐sections are very useful, allowing one to dip into the book to suit one's needs.
However, the authors' claim that the book could be used by “all individuals” in the management of their careers seems unwarranted. The text is far too dense for the average individual and the presentation and layout of the practical exercises is a weak feature of the book. Of the different audiences mentioned by the authors, the appropriate one would appear to be undergraduate or graduate students taking courses in career management and counselling or human resource management and development. The research community operating in the above fields would also find much of value in this book. The endnotes, which are quite vast extending to 42 pages, provide up to date references for further reading.
A critique of the career management model presented in the book is that it is rather rationalistic presenting the career stages in a programmed manner. It does not speak to the very many people who travel a unique and personal but not necessarily academic‐based route to their career goals. In the same vein, it is astonishing that this book does not go into the job search process in any great depth. It is just presented rather briefly as one of the career management steps that one goes through. The difference between the career management model of this book and the dynamic and hands‐on model of the American Richard Bolles (2011) in his well‐known and bestselling job‐hunting book is quite remarkable. At the beginning of his book Bolles seeks to enthuse and inspire his readers (“all individuals”) no matter what their background, to take a self‐driven, get‐up‐and‐go attitude to achieve their life and work goals. It is strange that Bolles's book does not get a mention in this book. This otherwise excellent state of the art academic book on the different stages of career management would surely benefit from Bolles” stress on the importance of taking initiatives, often bypassing formal routes in targeting one's work goal and acquiring personal and resilient job hunting skills to successfully attain that goal.
In the authors' own words
Regardless of the current and future challenges and uncertainties, career management as a problem‐solving process does not really change in fundamental form. Information, insight, goals, plans and feedback are essential at all career stages. Reflecting this view, we offer below our thoughts on several career issues that transcend time and place […] First, effective career management requires individual initiative – an active probing approach to life […] Second, people must appreciate the relationship between their work and nonwork lives […] Third, people must avoid succumbing to other people's definitions of success for their lives […] Fourth, employees are responsible for maintaining (or attaining) a portfolio of skills that is transferrable to other work situations and other employers […] Finally, career management is not the exclusive domain of the elite. Career management is for everyone who wants to advance the quality of his or her life (p. 411‐12).
About the reviewer
Dr Barry (Timothy) Nyhan's main field of research is “practice‐based learning” or “action learning” and how this can be harnessed for organisational/systemic learning for the benefit of all. He worked for many years as a senior official in the European Commission, based in different countries, overseeing research activities and policies in the field of work‐related learning. Barry Nyhan is a former Visiting Professor in the College of Europe, Bruges, where he taught a course on European trends in human resource management. He has numerous publications to his name. His special field of research and training for his Masters of Education degree (Trinity College Dublin) was career guidance. Barry (Timothy) Nyhan can be contacted at: email@example.com
Bolles, R.N. (2011), What Color Is Your Parachute?, Ten Speed Press, New York, NY.
Holland, J.L. (1997), Making Vocational Choices, 3rd ed., Psychological Assessment Resources, Odessa, FL.
Levinson, D.J., Darrow, C.N., Klein, E.B., Levinson, M.A. and McKee, B. (1978), Seasons of a Man's Life, Knopf, New York, NY.
Super, D. (1957), The Psychology of Careers, Harper & Row, New York, NY.