Definition - what is career development?

Career development is the process of managing your life, learning and work.

Peter Tatham, Executive Director, Career Industry Council of Australia says the quality of the career development process significantly determines the nature and quality of individuals' lives: the kind of people they become, the sense of purpose they have, the income at their disposal. It also determines the social and economic contribution they make to the communities and societies of which they are part.

Career development in the current economy is more important than ever before, "as an ongoing process of review, discovery, deciding  and action. In a tighter job market, creativity (identifying career combinations where the applicant can offer a unique selling proposition) and flexibility will likely become more important." (Dr Peter Carey, President, Career Development Association of Australia, a CICA member organisation).

The career development process starts with you getting to know yourself and then matching your interests, aspirations and skills with options for study and work. So career development is about more than just your first job, it's about the whole of your life and for many its about getting a life that you love!

You can develop your skills and discover career opportunities through:

  • paid work
  • unpaid work experience or volunteering
  • education
  • caring for family members
  • hobbies
  • cultural activities.

Career development applies to people of all ages:

  • Children learn about different jobs in society. They develop interests and abilities that may eventually influence their career paths.
  • Teenagers choose subjects and courses that may lead them to their career paths. They participate in school, part-time work, family activities and hobbies.
  • Adults work in the home, in paid employment and as volunteers. They may change jobs several times and experience periods of unemployment, over employment and under employment. As well as work, adults participate in formal and informal education, family activities, and hobbies.
  • Retirees often have the financial and personal freedom to choose to study, start a business, travel, work part time, volunteer, enjoy hobbies or care for family members. Some retirees do all of these things!

What to know more about career development for individuals?

All content and links checked February 2012.