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Inspiring Your Continuous Professional Development - May 2018

25 05.18

Career theory –  keeping up-to-date

The pressures of every day work can make it seem that there’s no time for sitting back and thinking deeply. But, of course, we all know that it is important to do so. This month we are drawing on work by a number of CDI members to encourage you to review how approaches to career theory have developed over recent years.

Activities here are simply ideas and are not compulsory. You can choose to do some, all or none; it won’t affect your membership of the CDI whether you take up these ideas or not, although they do reflect good practice.

If you are on the Register then undertaking 25 hours of CPD each year is a condition of your registration.

If you are a member then undertaking CPD helps you to adhere to the Continuous Professional Development principle in the CDI Code of Ethics.

Each month, we will suggest CPD activities which will allow you to explore a topic, interact with others and create a reflective record in the Members’ Area of the CDI website. Simply choose the items and activities that suit your role and your style.

All the resources mentioned, and many more, are also accessible with direct links from the CPD Resources area of the Members’ Area of the CDI website. Resources are arranged according to the National Occupational Standards: Career Development (NOS:CD). Career theory is in NOS: CD01


Why does theory matter?

The National Guidance Research Forum (NGRF), curated by Jenny Bimrose and colleagues at IER, University of Warwick, is a rich resource. In an opening page on Theory for guidance practice, the forum addresses such questions as

‘Why bother with theory?’, and ‘How do we choose between theories?’


Motivation and decision-making approaches

In 2007, Liane Hambly reported in Career Guidance Today (15.3) a study that examined, and tested new methods for exploring, clients’ motivation and their decision making styles in New theory: implications for guidance practice


New theories

In an article in The Psychologist, Career concepts in the 21st century (2011), John Arnold gets to grips with terms such as boundaryless and protean careers, career anchors and the social aspects of career.


Development of theories over time

Patton and McMahon’s book Career Development and Systems Theory starts with two chapters comparing theories, and tracing theory development over time. There is a free preview link to these two chapters, although the book is otherwise priced. Also priced, but with a free preview of chapter 3, is Hazel Reid’s Introduction to career counselling and coaching (2016).


What interests you?

We’ve collected here a number of links to free resources that permit you to explore in more detail some of the developments in theory over recent years.

Systems theory framework of career development and counselling Patton and McMahon (2006).

Career construction and life design The Vocopher site contains the ‘life design counselling manual’, a career construction interview outline and ‘My career story’ workbook, a life design theme mapping guide, as well as a resource library of video and audio material. Everything on the public site is free to access for all users.

In Understanding career decision-making and progression: careership revisited Hodkinson reviewed the strengths and weaknesses of careership theory.

Chaos theory of careers is similarly reviewed by its authors, Pryor and Bright in The chaos theory of careers: ten years on and only just begun Alternatively, spend ten minutes listening to Jim Bright’s video Chaos theory of career explained, or re-visit the text of his inaugural professorial lecture at iCeGS, University of Derby: The uncertain story of career development

Planned happenstance is summarized by Krumboltz in Happenstance learning theory. Balance this reading with viewing a three-part video interview by John Krumboltz with career coach Steve Piazzale, including the key recommendation; ‘Never make a career decision!’.

Julia Yates picks career coaching as the term, among others, for career development practice, and offers the GROW model, grounded in career development theory, for working with clients (powerpoint presentation).


A reflective exercise

A useful exercise is for you to review your own career history and think about the extent to which different theories apply to your decisions. Students on QCD and Level 6 courses do this, and are often surprised by how many theories play some part in explaining their past career. See below for notes on recording this activity so that it counts towards your CPD hours.



The CPD Resource area has a list of useful career development blogs in NOS: CD01. Look there for the full list, but one of particular interest might be Careers – in theory from the Careers Group of the University of London. As well as the blog pages, this site includes a resource tab leading to articles, tools and a few theory summaries.


Using our LinkedIn groups

The CDI has a number of LinkedIn group for members, and discussions on theory arise from time to time. Or you could start such a discussion yourself by posing a question. Existing groups are:

National groups Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales

Community of Interest groups Careers Education | Independent Coaches and Consultants | Learning Difficulties and Disabilities | HE Advisers | Research. Visit the Communities of Interest.


Recording and reflecting on CPD

Remember that reading, talking and reflecting all count towards your CPD hours as long as you write a short reflective report in the My CPD section of your ‘My Portfolio’ record.


Useful Tips

Accessing the Members’ Area in order to record your CPD

To access this area click Login (at the top of the screen) and use your Members’ Area username (your email address) and password. Then click on Members’ Area, and choose Professional Register which includes the CPD Resources area and your personal CPD record. You can also access the Register directly by using the Professional Register link on the home page.

In September 2017 we launched an updated version of this part of the site which now provides a CPD recording system which is much easier to use.

The site includes the facility to Request a new password. Remember that for the system to work well, you need to keep your details up to date and ensure that CDI emails are not directed to your spam box.

For any questions relating to CPD Recording please contact:

Dr Lyn Barham,
Project Associate (Research)

(If you have any questions relating to this email please contact