What’s your careers intervention type?

I have invented a typology for considering how you interact in a career delivery setting. I’m not the world’s greatest fan of typologies and this isn’t based around any research so take it with a pinch of salt and see what you think. I have tried to outline some of the main dichotomies that exist around careers delivery, I feel though we may be tempted to say “it’s a bit of both” about the bellow I feel for most people if we think it through we do find that we have a majority position. The point of the exercise is roughly speaking developmental. It should firstly get you to think about your current practice. Secondly consider what your current strengths are in the positions you have taken. Thirdly by considering your “mirror” image, see what you are not doing in your practice and what the disadvantages of this may be. Here are some introductory thoughts and then a description of the tool itself.

  • The tool describes the approach you choose to take, it does not uncover any essentials structures to your identity.
  • The tool can be used to think about both one-to-one, group and curriculum design contexts.
  • The tool describes our dominant position, the ideas properly understood are in opposition to each other.
  • It is most helpful to ask what you do in practice not what you aspire to in theory.

D or E

Directing vs. Enabling

  • A directing approach aims to understand what the right answer is for the client and then help them understand this. A directing style will often give out information directly, share anecdotes and examples or promote a certain course of action.
  • An enabling approach aims to empower and enable a client to understand their own problems and produce their own solutions. An enabling style holds back information and solutions and instead encourages clients to research and strategies for themselves.

R or C

Realist vs. Constructivist

  • An realist approach believes there is a fundamental essence to someone’s identity, that there is something that makes us unique which is a unchangeable structure, Careers work aims at unearthing and understanding this structure and finding suitable environments for this sort of person to fit into.
  • A constructivist approach sees identity as something which is created and developed by the individual. Rather than being an essence which must be understood it is the individual who make themselves who they are. This makes careers support about encouraging acts that develop this sense of self, take responsibility and develop the project of who the client wants to be.

P or H

Planning vs. Happenstance

  • A planning approach thinks of the future as a destination, decides on a destination and strategies a series of steps to get there. This turns careers support into fundamentally a two stage process between deciding on a destination and strategizing how to get there.
  • A happenstance approach considers plans an inaccurate and unhelpful way to conceptualise the future. Instead careers development is about having the skills needed to respond to uncertainty and the emerging situations we face in our careers. A Happenstance approach aims to build an individuals capacity to approach the future in this way.

I or N

Individual vs. Network

  • An individual based approach looks to understand who someone is outside of external influences and factors. This view tends to view constructs such as family, peer groups and cultural narratives as baggage to be avoided. This view aims to encourage the individual to clear away external baggage to who they are want to be.
  • A networked approach sees individuals as embedded in a network of relationships and cultures and that this network is as much part of the person as their more individualised attitudes. Rather than clearing away these networks the practitioner would aim to recognise them and help the client navigate, negotiate and expand these networks seeing them as part of what makes up the individual.

O or F

Outcome focussed vs. Feedback focus

  • An outcome focused approach defines a certain result in advance that is measurable and aims for that. This may will be determined on an institutional level but the crucial thing is how focussed on it the practitioner is. This may involve getting young people off NEET, reducing school drops, increase graduate level destinations or having more repeat business (as a private career coach would look for).
  • A feedback focussed approach looks to the perceptions of those you interact with to determine success. This is about opening up a dialogue as to what the interaction means and how it is viewed and made use of by the person receiving it. This focuses on success being personal and subjective.


As I said at the start the key is to focus on where your practice is at rather than your ideals and then to consider your mirror image, what you are not doing or doing less of to better understand the nature of your practice.

For anyone who is interested I think I am ECPIO though I’d like to change some of this.

6 thoughts on “What’s your careers intervention type?

  1. HI Tom. Thank you for sharing this I enjoyed reflecting on my personal career development practice and have shared with other career advisors in NZ. I by the way was DCHNF although at times I was leaning to the other especially D vs O and P vs H. It would be interesting to see if there was cultural leaning towards network vs individual also. I am of Māori descent and our culture view things very collectively and that we bring our ancestory with us as a package. Therefore working with indigenous cultures when you have an individual practice mode might be unenabling when working with certain ethnicities.

  2. I also really enjoyed this Tom – very thought provoking. I think I’m probably ECHNF. Also interesting to read Tia’s comments – I think some of my focus on happenstance and networks for instance comes from working in very small communities where (in the words of a graduate living in Orkney) ‘you have to be a bit more fluid and willing to do different things’… Thank you for sharing your ideas.

  3. Thanks again for the thoughtful post. I think our ways of working with clients is determined for us by the environments we find ourselves in. As you pointed out, if you are working to decrease the rate of school dropouts then your approach might have to be more O than F. Perhaps the F side of things helps to create hope or motivation in the person one is working with. As an ECPNF there is always room for improvement and ultimately I think it depends on a number of variables which may change with each client. Looking forward to your next post.

    • Thanks for the comment Jude. Yes completely agree with the thread around the importance of culture and context. That said I feel that our identity as a practitioner interacts with this and we need to decide if we will collaborate or counter our culture.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s