How do you anchor your career?

I frequently hear my clients say during a career coaching consultation: ‘I really should be pursuing this goal, but for some reason I am not and I am wondering why.’ Finding the answer to this question is usually the reason why they decided to get in touch.

Sometimes it feels as if the real reasons of our behaviour are covered in a layer of mist. The challenge is to clear the mist and see through. As a career development coach and trainer at Via Career Coaching I am grateful to support international professionals in the Netherlands clarifying their career path.

What are Career Anchors?

During my Work Psychology studies I came across the ‘Career Anchors’ concept developed by Edgar Schein, former professor of Organisational Psychology at MIT Sloan School of Management. I find it a very useful framework giving further insight into ourselves and how to make fitting career decisions. It may shine light on reasons why you set yourself goals but find yourself not pursuing them (at least for the moment…)

In the framework Schein identifies 8 ‘career anchors’. The anchors are made up of a combination of your values, drives and motives which determine the choices in your career. The dominant anchor would be the one aspect you would never want to give up, even when faced with challenging choices.

Realising your dominant anchor makes you aware of what really matters in your working life. And thus making choices accordingly. It explains why you may get inspired by other people starting their own business but decide not to do it yourself. If the anchor security/stability is important to you, you’re better off accepting that a working in a permanent role is more your thing.

Below I give you an overview of the 8 career anchors that Schein identified including some questions you can ask yourself to explore them further.

  1. Technical/functional competence – Do you enjoy being regarded as an expert? Do you like to do a thorough job?
  2. Managerial competence – Does more responsibility give you more satisfaction? Does taking the lead in a team come naturally to you?
  3. Autonomy/independence – Is space to do your own thing what you are after? Is working on your own enjoyable for you?
  4. Security/stability – Are you comfortable taking risks? Is it important for you to have a stable income?
  5. Entrepreneurial creativity – Do you enjoy inventing things? How would you feel running your own business?
  6. Service/dedication to a cause – Are you wondering how you can best help other people? Do you feel inspired to serve a bigger purpose?
  7. Pure challenge – Are you continuously on the lookout for new challenges? Do you get triggered by activities that seem impossible?
  8. Lifestyle – Is it important for you to integrate work and private life? Would you like to have more time off for other pastimes?

Time for change?

Ask yourself to which extent you are incorporating them into your current life. Are you?

Do you feel it is time for change? Making a change can be daunting. But then, why not? Take hold of the wheel of your driver’s seat and start your journey. It may be misty at first, but I promise it will clear away eventually.




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