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The experiences of voluntary career change in 30‐somethings and implications for guidance

Amelia Jane Wise (Department of Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK)
Lynne J. Millward (Department of Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 1 August 2005




The purpose of the study was to discover the key psychological issues involved in voluntary career change in 30‐somethings, with implications for career theory and guidance.


A qualitative methodology was employed. Data gathering was by means of semi‐structured interviews and interpretation used interpretative phenomenological analysis. A sensemaking perspective within a constructivist framework defined the research.


Three types of themes were generated from the participant interviews. The first relates to issues of continuity and discontinuity during the change process, the second deals with participant's values directing the change, and the final theme covers the influence of context on the change process. The implications these themes have for contemporary meanings of career are discussed together with suggestions for guidance.

Research limitations/implications

Findings only reflect views at a point in time. A recommendation for future longitudinal research is made. The effect of the researcher is acknowledged in the sensemaking process.

Practical implications

A number of revisions to traditional career theory are identified and several career guidance implications.


This research is unique in addressing specific issues relating to the 30‐something age‐group and is topical in dealing with the phenomena of autonomous career change among this group. The use of a phenomenological perspective is scarce in the study of career change and provides a highly personal insight that furthers our understanding of the meaning of career. This is of particular value to career theorists and career counsellors.



Wise, A.J. and Millward, L.J. (2005), "The experiences of voluntary career change in 30‐somethings and implications for guidance", Career Development International, Vol. 10 No. 5, pp. 400-417.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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