human existence, work has been a critical factor in social organization and development. Even cultures such as the Greek and Roman civilizations had a complex occupational structure. The diversity and complexity of occupations have, naturally, evolved along with the more advanced technological society. The Industrial Revolution accelerated employment specialization and, more recently, the computer and its offshoots have produced huge growth in the number and types of jobs available. More than ever, individuals need support from professionals in making career decisions based on such factors as skills, interests and strengths/disabilities. Career counseling, or assisting a person with a career choice or change, involves a number of different factors such as establishing a rapport, assessing the nature of the problem, goal setting and intervention (Brown 16).
A number of theories have been suggested to help people with their career choice and development. One of these is Krumboltz's Social Learning Theory. Based on Bandura's previous theories (1977), Krumboltz identifies four kinds of factors that influence career decision making: 1) genetic endowment and special abilities, or inherent characteristics that can influence an individual, such as race, gender and physical appearance; 2) Environmental conditions and events, or synthetic or natural influences that may lie out of the realm of control of a person. These include training opportunities, social policies and procedures for selecting workers and technological advancements;
3) Learning situations that include instrumental experiences, where the individual acts on the environment to produce consequences and associative experiences, and associative experiences, where individuals learn by reacting to external stimuli; and 4) Task approach skills, or those tools the individuals apply to each new task, such as work habits and cognitive processes.
According to Krumboltz, a person is born with certain genetic characteristics. As time passes, he/she confronts environmental, economic, social and cultural events and conditions. The individual learns from these situations, building skills that are applied to new events. In an interview (Feller, 2001, np), Krumboltz states that each person has thousands of learning experiences throughout life that have taught him/her what to like, at what he/she excels, and what are accurate expectations. Individuals learn their skills, interests, personality preferences, beliefs, values, and work habits from opportunities encountered, some of which they may have planned, but most that occurred through unanticipated circumstances. He also describes the Planned Happenstance portion of the theory or "the goal of counseling is to facilitate the learning of skills, interests, beliefs, values, work habits and personal qualities that enable each client to create a satisfying life within a constantly changing work environment." This goal is far more important and complicated than merely helping clients make career decisions.
In this interview (Feller, 2001, np), Krumboltz also explains the Career Beliefs Inventory, or when clients do not take action to develop their personal careers, because they are blocked by their own beliefs. For example, individuals who think they must be certain of success before they take action will never set and follow goals. The notion of career beliefs is embedded within the larger theoretical concept of social cognitions, or patterns of beliefs that exist within a community and guide the behavior of the individuals in that community (Krumboltz, 1994). Career beliefs can become so deeply ingrained that they may not even be identified as beliefs: They are more like unquestioned, self-evident truths that predispose individuals and communities to making career decisions in a certain manner (Krumboltz, 1994). Career beliefs could mediate between the client's attempts to deal with career development tasks. Some examples of common career beliefs are: "Boys are better at mathematics and science than girls," "Re-trenched people have a poor chance of getting another job," or "Immigrants are at a disadvantage in the job market." The impact of these beliefs on the career development process can be marked and critical. The effectiveness of career counseling can be marred or even made meaningless when existing career beliefs remain unaddressed.
In another article, Krumboltz (1998, np) explains how jobs today are much more serendipitous. Counselors need to 1) broaden their view so that the reluctance to make an occupational commitment in the face of unpredictable future events can be supported as open-mindedness, not downplayed as indecisiveness, 2) teach clients that unplanned events are a typical and expected aspect of career development and 3) instruct clients how to generate unplanned events that contribute to a more…