Measures of career success

career ladder

The primary career goal of most people is to make it to the top of the ladder in their chosen profession

What do you think?  Is this true?  Does it apply to you?

For some people getting to the ‘top of the ladder’ will certainly be a career aim but this will not be true of everyone.  Just by looking around you at friends, family and colleagues you can see that different people want different things from their career.

Individuals define ‘success’ in their careers in their own subjective way.  For some it’s how much money they earn, or achieving a senior role in an organisation, for others it’s doing challenging work, or having autonomy in their work, or it could be achieving stability and security.  What do you define as ‘success’ in career?

If you can identify what drives you, what you value in terms of your career, then that can help you to think about the direction you want your career to take.  One tool to help you to do this is by using the ‘career anchors’ defined by Edgar Schein, an organisational psychologist and MIT professor, in the 1960s.

Schein proposed that as we continue to experience different work situations and environments, we develop a self-concept that is built on an awareness of what we value, what we want and what we are good at.  He defined eight different anchors and suggested that we will favour certain ones.

You can use the questionnaire below to find your top career anchors.  Do you think they reflect your values accurately?  Are they being fulfilled in your current environment?  What do they  suggest about your career direction in the future?  If you’d like to talk over any of this then make an appointment to talk to a careers adviser.

Career anchors questionnaire

Description of career anchors

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