Career Writing as a Form of Career Guidance
– by Kat McNichol –
Career writing is creative, expressive, and reflective writing used in career guidance to develop a career identity (1). There are a number of goals: developing career readiness in an uncertain labour market; promoting meaningful discussions about jobs and careers; constructing meaning in the face of uncertainty; and developing the ability to recognize career opportunities as they arise (2). This type of writing is usually done in a group setting, allowing for peer support. It helps people understand they’re not alone and that others have similar concerns and doubts. This in turn develops confidence. This method of career guidance is cost effective as it can provide support to a larger group at a lower cost (3). Additionally, it can be undertaken as a self-guided system of support and study.
Career writing uses concepts from the field of writing for personal and professional development (4), developmental creative writing (5), and therapeutic writing (6). Many therapeutic writing studies have been show to promote health and well-being in participants (7) and initial studies into writing for career guidance specifically show that writing in a structured and guided way, with a facilitator and a group of peers, can promote career identity development (8) however, more research is needed to validate these early, but promising, results.
Of the research that has been done on career writing, particularly by Dr. Reinekke Lengelle and Dr. Frans Meijers, much of it has been focused on preparing students to enter the labour market by offering techniques that help them prepare for uncertainty as well as recognize opportunities for career success. Lengelle and Meijers describe the need to be “luck ready”: “luck readiness is the ability to see and make use of opportunities within the reality of complexity, change, and uncertainty” (9). Those of who have been in the workforce for a long time innately understand this concept of luck readiness. Personally, I can describe the trajectory of my entire career in the context of how I reacted and responded to lucky opportunities. Additional research is now being conducted that looks at the benefit of career writing for employees at a mid-career point.
To learn more about therapeutic writing, the field that underpins career writing, read the articles “Writing Therapy: Healing with Words,” and “Why Therapeutic Writing,” or check out this list of the best 21 books about therapeutic writing.
(1) Lengelle, Meijers and Poell 76.
(2) Meijers and Lengelle 158; Lengelle, Meijers and Poell, Career Writing: Creative, Expressive and Reflective Approaches to Narrative Identity Formation in Students in Higher Education 76; Lengelle, Meijers and Poell, Career writing as a dialogue about work experience: A recipe for luck readiness? 31.
(3) Lengelle, Meijers and Poell, Career Writing: Creative, Expressive and Reflective Approaches to Narrative Identity Formation in Students in Higher Education 83.
(4) Hunt and Sampson.
(6) Hunt and Sampson.
(7) Pennebaker; Pennebaker and Chung.
(8) Lengelle, Meijers and Poell, Career writing as a dialogue about work experience: A recipe for luck readiness? 82).
(9) Lengelle, Meijers and Poell, Career writing as a dialogue about work experience: A recipe for luck readiness? 82).
Hunt, Celia and Fiona Sampson, The Self on the Page. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1998.
Lengelle, Reinekke, et al. “Career writing as a dialogue about work experience: A recipe for luck readiness?” International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance (2015): 29-43.
—. “Career Writing: Creative, Expressive and Reflective Approaches to Narrative Identity Formation in Students in Higher Education.” Journal of Vocational Behavior (2015): 75-84.
Meijers, Frans and Reinekke Lengelle. “Narratives at work: the development of career identity.” British Journal of Guidance & Counselling (2012): 157-176.
Nicholls, Sophie. “Beyond Expressive Writing: Evolving Models of Developmental Creative Writing.” Journal of Health Psychology (2009): 171–180. Online.
Pennebaker, James W and Cindy K Chung. “Expressive Writing: Connections to Physical and Mental Health.” The Oxford Handbook of Health Psychology. Ed. Howard S Friedman. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. 417-437. Web.
Pennebaker, James W. “Writing About Emotional Experiences as a Therapeutic Process.” Psychological Science (1997): 162-168. Web.