Anchors to define your career journey

Many jobs sound great on paper, but your career anchors will help you weed out those that are not in accordance with your expectations, writes Vijay Prakash Srivastava.
Last Updated : 04 June 2024, 00:56 IST
Last Updated : 04 June 2024, 00:56 IST

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Considerable part of our life is devoted to our career. Taking a broader view, career here would mean a job or role in an organisation, entrepreneurship or engagement in a business. If we are unhappy in our career, it has a negative bearing in other aspects of our living. A career is not just a means to earn money, ideally, it should allow you to realise your potential.

Hence a career should be planned and not happen just by default. Career planning entails a number of elements. One of these is understanding of one’s career anchors. The career anchor model developed by Edgar Schein of Massachusetts Institute of Technology covers a combination of a person’s self-perceived attitudes, needs, talents and values to guide her career choices.

In many cases people apply for a job or role based on their academic or professional eligibility. From outside it seems to be alright. Digging deeper will make us understand that having a similar degree doesn’t mean that these people have similar competencies or aspirations.

Among two MBAs from a particular institute working in one organisation with same working conditions, one may be happy and other may not be. One may thrive in this career while the other may not. These people may not have realised but they may be differing in their career anchors.

A degree in any field carries value and opens many windows of opportunities. Many jobs sound great on paper, but knowing your career anchor will help you weed out the ones those are not in accordance with what you expect in or from your career.

Autonomy: One such anchor is autonomy or independence in your work. Some people like to receive guidance and follow instructions but there are also those who do their best to understand what is required and then wish to work in an independent manner and define their work in their own way. Try to discover if above all else, you desire to feel free and on your own in what you do in your career.

Work-life balance: This is an issue that concerns both employers and employees and is considered as a career anchor. Our lifestyle is greatly influenced by our career. If you long for a situation that allows you to balance and integrate your personal needs, your family needs with the requirements in your career, you need to check this before, as not every job permits it. Most progressive organisations keep working on strategies to ensure smooth work-life balance for their people but you shouldn’t take it for granted that it will be available everywhere.

Stability and security: The new generation has a different mindset, and is more amenable to risk taking. Job-hopping, taking breaks can be a norm for many of these people. However there are also those who look forward to stability and security in their career journey. They may be less concerned with the content of their work or the promotions they get, even though promotions may come with progression. If security is your career anchor, you need to choose a business, industry or employer accordingly. Regular roles in public sector organisations in normal course, come with job security but many private enterprises also offer job security if your performance is found up to the mark.

Creativity: This is a trait available in all of us, though in different measure. There is an option to not let our creativity influence our work at the job by simply following, repeating and replicating the processes existing since years or decades. The other option is to choose an area where there is scope for unleashing your creativity. The idea is not to challenge something but finding new ways and means which may help improve output, product or service quality and reduce cost. Creatively anchored people look for the opportunity to build, strengthen and change the organisation, in big or small way with their willingness to take risks and overcome obstacles.

Dedication to a cause: This is also considered a career anchor. Those having this, like to pursue such work that achieves something of value to people and society. Working for environmental sustainability, educating deprived children, poverty eradication are few examples here. Here the measure of success is not material achievement but contribution made towards helping people and improving their lives. Roles exist in corporate social responsibility wings of corporates. One may also work with NGOs, etc.

If you are looking to build expertise or competence in a particular area, this may be an indication of your career anchor. The competence here can be functional, technical or managerial. Your education and training can be a basis for that. You will be enjoying applying your skills in your chosen area and derive your sense of identity from your knowledge and competence.

Sometimes you may have to make a trade-off between your career anchors to make a career choice.

Published 04 June 2024, 00:56 IST

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