Traditionally, careers have been described in various ways. Careers have been described as a sequence of positions held within an occupation. A career has also been described in the context of mobility within an organization. Today’s careers are known as protean careers. A protean career is based on self-direction, with the goal of psychological success in one’s work. Employees take major responsibility for managing their careers.
The goal of the new career is psychological success: the feeling of pride and accomplishment that comes from achieving life goals that are not limited to achievements at work (such as raising a family and having good physical health). Psychological success is more under the employee’s control than the traditional career goals, which were not only influenced by employee effort but were controlled by the availability of positions in the company. Psychological success is self-determined rather than solely determined through signals the employee receives from the company (like salary increase and promotion).
It is important for employees to develop new skills rather than rely on a static knowledge base. This has resulted from companies’ need to be more responsive to customers’ service and product demands. Learning is continuous, often informal, and involves creating and sharing knowledge. The emphasis on continuous learning has altered the direction and frequency of movement within careers (career pattern).
Traditional career patterns consisted of a series of steps arranged in a linear hierarchy, with higher steps related to increased authority, responsibility, and compensation. Expert career patterns involve a lifelong commitment to a field or specialization (such as law, medicine, or management). These types of career patterns will not disappear. Rather, career patterns involving movement across specializations or disciplines (a spiral career pattern) will become more prevalent.
Development planning or career management system refers to a system to retain and motivate employees by identifying and helping to meet their development needs. Companies’ development planning systems (also known as development planning processes) vary in the level of sophistication and the emphasis they place on different components of the process.