ERIC Identifier: ED292975
Publication Date: 1988-00-00
Author: Bhaerman, Robert D.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Adult Career and Vocational Education Columbus OH.
Individualized Career Plan Models. ERIC Digest No. 71.
During the past several decades, most aspects of our society have become more
and more complex. Technological advances, for example, have resulted in
substantial changes in the nature and structure of occupations and industries.
These changes have affected many of the ways in which we approach career
planning and decision making. For example, new techniques in individual and
group counseling, assessment procedures, and career resources increasingly are
being used. Most important, career development is now being recognized as a
lifelong process. Personal plans of action--individualized career development
plans--are becoming important instruments that counselors and others are using
to help their students and/or clients (both youth and adults) meet their
changing goals, interests and needs in this fast-paced, rapidly changing
According to Gysbers (1983), an individualized career plan (ICP) can be both
a tool and a procedure that people either use by themselves or with others to
implement and monitor their career development. As a tool, the plan provides a
place to record aptitudes, interests, values, and competencies and to identify
those they may wish to acquire or further develop; as a procedure, the plan
provides a guide through which individuals use the past and the present to look
to the future. Rather than a rigid track, a good plan can provide a renewed
focus for one's life.
This digest identifies the basic characteristics of an ICP, describes its
conceptual and physical contents, and lists specific examples of its use.
Finally, the career passport is examined as a form of ICP.
ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF AN INDIVIDUALIZED CAREER PLAN
At least four basic characteristics of individualized career plans have been
1. Comprehensive. An ICP is broad-based, with opportunities for individuals
to define goals and identify competencies, aptitudes, interests, and values.
Moreover, it is sufficiently broad to include such multilife roles as workers,
consumers/citizens, learners, family members, and unique individuals.
2. Developmental. An ICP is ongoing; it is never completed. Indeed, it is
designed to be used throughout the entire life span. Since it contains elements
that respond to the demands of different roles and stages, it is not in a form
that is completed only once. Rather, it is in a form that can be modified as new
growth is experienced.
3. Person-centered. The plan belongs to the individual using it. Although the
plan itself may be stored or kept for convenience as a part of an institution or
agency, it remains the property of the person who has developed it. Moreover,
although the plan may reflect the input of many persons (for example, teachers,
counselors, agency staff, and business or industry personnel), it always remains
person-centered and person-directed.
4. Competency-based. Each of these elements focuses on competencies, that is,
on knowledge, skills, and attitudes individuals acquire at work, in school, on
the job, or in the community. The plan, therefore, includes a component that
identifies and records current competencies as well as a component that provides
an indication of potential additional competencies to which an individual may
WHAT DOES AN ICP LOOK LIKE?
Gysbers (1983) provided a logical structure on which to build. He suggested,
for example, that the various life roles be used to provide the main section of
a plan and that each plan contain a section in which individuals can project
their future career growth. The latter section would provide the opportunity
both to analyze and synthesize information and insights in the life role
sections and to generalize them to present and future actions.
The remaining sections of the plan might focus on the activities involved in
the individual's varied life roles. In addition, the plan contains a section
generically titled "career growth development." This section provides room for
analyzing, synthesizing, and applying information gathered in the life role
sections; it also provides space in which an individual records his or her
action steps and progress toward the completion of a goal.
According to Gysbers, the life roles include the following:
Worker roles. Individuals record information about the competencies they
possess as workers or potential workers. Such a listing includes interest
information and aptitude data as well as tasks performed around the home or
schools or on jobs they have held.
Consumer/citizen roles. Individuals list the community resources that they
have used or that are available for use. Depending on the age of the person
involved, information is on such consumer/citizen concerns as the purchase and
maintenance of housing, investment of money, and similar items.
Learner roles. Individuals record their educational experiences and
achievements. Official transcripts, acquired competencies, informal learning
experiences, and extracurricular activities are examples of the type of
Family member roles. Individuals record information about family background,
family members or relatives, and possible family crises and what was done to
handle them. Short anecdotes about such occurrences sometimes are included.
An individualized career plan also includes career growth action steps, that
is, the design provides room for individuals to think about the information they
have recorded along with potential next steps. This normally is the place where
short-range and long-range goals are recorded and monitored, where behavioral
contracts with oneself or others are kept, where possible barriers to goal
completion are identified, and where supportive individuals or groups are noted.
SPECIFIC EXAMPLES OF ICPS
The individualized career plan lends itself well to various formats and
modifications, it can be targeted in many directions, and it is adaptable for
use at all levels of schooling as well as in employment and training agencies.
Its flexibility is illustrated in the following brief sampler of plans and
projects that have been developed over the past decade. Note the variations in
target audiences, adaptability, and scope of the concept in the following
--Childers (1983) developed a booklet for use in workshops on career decision
making and planning as part of a series of three career orientation
self-development units designed ultimately for use at the junior high school
level. --Wilson and his colleagues (1979) targeted their plan toward a specific
area, namely, an allied health professions counseling model at the secondary
school level. --Hafer (1982) concentrated on creating a format for a career
planning and development program suitable for use at 2-year postsecondary
institutions. --Smith, Berenson, and Smith (1981) developed a planning guide and
handbook for students with disabilities that is available in Braille, large
print, and tape cassette. --Aanstad and Borders (1980) described a course,
"Lifework Planning," designed to help working women evaluate their current job
status and plan career changes commensurate with long-range life goals.
--Keller, Mayfield, and Piotrowski (1983) constructed a 13-step approach to
career and life planning that includes such specific features of an ICP as
developing a career personality profile, gathering specific labor market
information, and preparing a resume.
Charner and Bhaerman (1986) discussed the concept of the "career passport"
and explored how passports are used. The career passport is in effect a form of
an individualized career development plan. The career passport presents a
systematic process for developing an experience-based resume that documents
nonwork as well as work experiences and details the skills, attitudes, and
knowledge gained through these experiences. The process results in a formal
document in which students or clients present the many marketable skills they
have developed through their life experiences.
The steps for completing a career passport are (1) describe (work experience,
hobbies, activities, home responsibilities), (2) translate (into skills,
knowledge, attitudes, competencies, abilities, and interests), (3) present (in a
career passport, experience report, or resume), and (4) use (for job
applications and interviews; self-analysis; career exploration; counseling and
advising; and education, career, and life planning). The feedback loop between
(4) and (1) suggests that the process is continuous, with updating and
modifications occurring regularly.
The explicit description of the nature of one's experiences and activities is
critical and should reflect a clear understanding of the roles and
responsibilities an individual has had. It is equally critical to translate
these experiences into their component competencies. The translation process
requires users to explore their experiences deeply and to recognize the skills,
attitudes, knowledge, and competencies they have earned. This process of
exploration and recognition requires the assistance of a leader, who may be a
teacher or counselor.
As a result, the users of a career passport discover that their experiences
have taught them many things--for example, responsibility; ways to work
cooperatively with others; specific skills such as recordkeeping, selling,
handling money, and so on. They also recognize activities they enjoy doing (as
well as ones they dislike), areas of interest they wish to explore, and
attitudes they have developed. Furthermore, the process of translating
experiences into skills, attitudes, and knowledge enables them to learn more
about their marketability. Although some of the younger students may not have
many years of experience, they learn that they do have much to offer.
Just as a passport for foreign travel allows a person to enter another
country, the career passport enables individuals to enter employment or further
education and training programs. In many ways, it is the key that opens doors,
truly a passport to the future.
NOTE: This digest was based upon CAREER PASSPORT: LEADER'S GUIDE by Ivan
Charner and Robert Bhaerman and CREATE AND USE AN INDIVIDUAL CAREER DEVELOPMENT
PLAN. MODULE CG C-12, COMPETENCY-BASED CAREER GUIDANCE MODULES SERIES by Norman
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Aanstad, Judy; and DiAnne Borders. "A Life Planning Program for the Working
Woman." Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Personnel and
Guidance Association, Atlanta, GA, March 26-29, 1980. ED 194 826.
Charner, Ivan; and Robert Bhaerman. CAREER PASSPORT: LEADER'S GUIDE.
Columbus: The National Center for Research in Vocational Education, The Ohio
State University, 1986.
Childers, John H. CAREER DECISION-MAKING: BOOKLET III. VOCATIONAL CAREER
ORIENTATION SELF-DEVELOPMENT UNIT. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas, 1983.
ED 230 749.
Gysbers, Norman C. CREATE AND USE AN INDIVIDUAL CAREER DEVELOPMENT PLAN.
MODULE CG C-12, COMPETENCY-BASED CAREER GUIDANCE MODULES SERIES. Columbus: The
National Center for Research in Vocational Education, The Ohio State University,
1983. ED 248 391.
Hafer, A.A. CAREER PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS FOR TWO-YEAR COLLEGES.
1982. ED 219 522.
Keller, John W., Mary Mayfield, and Chris Piotrowski. PROCESS APPROACH TO
CAREER AND LIFE PLANNING. 1983. ED 230 729.
Smith, Gwen J., Adam Berenson, and Sharlene Smith. CAREER PLANNER: A GUIDE
FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES. Alta Loma, CA: Chaffey College, 1981. ED 205
Wilson, James D., and others. AN ALLIED HEALTH PROFESSIONS COUNSELING PROGRAM
MODEL: A GUIDE FOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS. New Orleans: New Orleans Public Schools,
1979. ED 179 843.