Kerr Inkson places a reliance on metaphor to enhance our understanding of careers. Critically assess this reliance in relation to the use of 4 metaphors of careers provided: career as actions, roles, relationships and (a) resource. In the early 21st century, career is a common term used to describe a pattern of work experience that occurs throughout a person’s lifetime (Arnold, 1997). This definition explains that a person has only one career but may have several occupations and a variety of experience.
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Continual changes in an individual’s career have been impacted by an increase in globalisation, advancement in technology and a change in demographics (Patton, McMahon, 2006). In order to completely understand the definition of careers and how important career development is, metaphors have been used to enhance this. The four main metaphors provided by Inkson (2007) illustrate a greater understanding of careers and career development which are: careers as actions, roles, relationships and a resource. The most effective metaphor that explains importance of career development is careers as relationships.
Forming relationships and networking has become an important factor in people’s lives in order progress with their career. This will further be explained with a comparison to the other three main metaphors. A metaphor is a figure of speech that supports thinking and creativity in different ways and expands on ones understanding in a dramatic way (Inkson, 2007). Metaphors are mostly used to expand a person’s vision about specific careers and their opportunities and threats, which would have not been visible before (Inkson, 2003).
In stating this it is important to understand the four metaphors which are important for understanding career development. Career as actions identifies the importance of self-expression and responsibility employees have in the workplace environment in order to achieve personal satisfaction or a goal (Inkson, 2007). It motivates an employee to achieve their personal goals by expressing themselves. However, at times this is difficult to achieve as other people around them also need to have the same point of view in order for it to be successful.
In comparison, career as role is an idea that it represents a social structure within society and conducts ones career path. It constructs a career path and a work-role that have clear role expectations for both employers and employees (Inkson, 2003). Overtime roles become engraved into an individual’s career and the individual becomes a “committed company servant”. Changing the role becomes difficult and role transition takes affect where an employee moves from one type of work to another, but does not change their career (Bowdle, Gentner, 2005).
The third metaphor, career as resource, focuses on the potential of career development in order to create wealth (Inkson, 2003). This is developed overtime and is mainly due to education and training. Organisations need to insure they maximise on their investment by ensuring employee knowledge is relevant to the work and is needed for the organisation’s future needs. Finally, career as relationship provides an understanding that networking and social surroundings assist a person to make the right decision with career choice (Inkson, 2007).
Through various encounters and formation of various relationships, employees create a wider career network and enable themselves to proceed up the career ladder (Inkson, 2003). Career as relationship provides a concise explanation of the importance of career development in the 21st century. An individual’s ability to possess high social skills is an important factor in the Western world in order to further a career. Networking is an essential skill for careerists as it increases their visibility among other professionals within the discipline and further enhances for potential employers to seek the particular employee (Kauffman, 2010).
Networks provide reassurance, motivation; support and further knowledge that is relevant do an individual’s career progression (Inkson, 2007). Compared to careers as action, where employees take on responsibility to express themselves in hope for recognition, relationships and networking already possess this feature, where actions contribute to greater networking. Therefore, career as relationship metaphor provides a better explanation of career development in the context of the 21st century. Network functions are not only done through direct interactions between individuals but are also on the basis of a reputation (Inkson, 2007).
Employers are a key stakeholder that know the job market and through their networking would be able to find the right candidate. Compared to career as a role, where the employee uses their role to progress within their career, networking allows for greater flexibility. However, research shows that there is no equality between males and females. Forret and Dougherty (2004) found that men are more likely to engage is socializing behaviour that would lead to future career networking than women. In the early 21st century, networking for women has become an important tool for a progression in career.
It has enabled women to “break through the glass ceiling” (Wellington, Catalyst, 2001) and help them progress to the top of an organisation and be recognised by employers. Conclusively, compared to other metaphors, networking and relationships define career development in the 21st century precisely, and explain how gender inequality is changing. Career as role, would have not been able to demonstrate a concise understanding of career development, as it focuses on roles of individuals whereas networking illustrates how women are greatly being recognised within organisations, no matter what role they are undertaking.
Interpersonal influence is another aspect of career as relationship metaphor that provides a greater understanding for career development. Not only is it important to have networks of people but it must also be known how to use correctly (Inkson, 2007). According to a recent survey found that 24. 1 % of participants named awareness and networking as a key factor influencing career development (Kuijpers et al 2006). Mentorship (Kauffman) REFERENCES Arnold, J 1997, ‘The Nature and Context of Careers’, Managing Careers into the 21st Century, Paul Chapman Publishing Ltd, London, pp 15-26.
Bowdle, B F, Gentner, D 2005, The career of metaphor, Department of Psychology, Indiana University. Forret, M, Dougherty, T 2004, ‘Networking Behaviours and Career Outcomes: Differences for men and women? ’, Journal of Organisational Behaviour, vol 25, no 3, pp. 419-437. Inkson, K 2003, ‘Images of career: Nine key metaphors’, Journal of Vocational Behaviour, vol. 65 (2004), pp. 96-111. Inkson, K 2007, Understanding Careers- The Metaphors of Working Lives, Sage Publications Inc, United States of America.
Kauffman, R B 2010, ‘Professional Networking’, Career Development in recreation, parks and tourism: a positioning approach, Library of Congress, United States of America, pp. 79-126. Kuijpers, M, Schyns, B, Scheerens, J 2006, “Career Competencies for Career Success”, The Career Development Quarterly, vol 55, pp. 168-178. Patton, W, McMahon, M 2006, Career Development and Systems Theory: Connecting Theory and Practise, 2nd edn, Sense Publishers, The Netherlands. Wellington, S, Catalyst, M 2001, Be your own mentor, New York, Random House.