Career Development and Planning: A Comprehensive Approach

Book Review by Ronald Z. Piaseczny and Jessica L. Sniatecki

Career Development and Planning: A Comprehensive Approach 3rd Edition.  By Robert C. Reardon, Janet G. Lenz, James P. Sampson, Jr., and Gary W. Peterson, 2009, Mason, OH: Cengage Learning. 330 pages.  ISBN: 1-426-63135-9.


Reardon, Lenz, Sampson, and Peterson, (2009) released an updated version of their book, Career Development and Planning: A Comprehensive Approach, which provides students interested in learning the fundamentals of career counseling with a well balanced mix of career development theory, concepts, resources, and practical knowledge needed in the field.  This book is designed to be used not only as a learning tool, but as a lifelong "handbook" for career development and job searching strategies.  It was first published in 2000, with the 2009 release being its 3rd edition.  There are approximately 300 references cited throughout the book.  The text briefly mentions the experience of the authors, but extensive bibliographic information is not provided.  Dr. Robert Reardon has taught a course on career counseling more than 45 times and several of the other authors have taught the career courses as well. 

The book is broken down into three parts:  Part One focuses on cognitive information processing theory with detailed practical examples of how to apply the theory in typical career situations; Part Two provides an overview of issues that affect career decisions, such as economic trends, the global economy, organizational culture, and family-work issues; and Part Three focuses on concrete steps for executing a strategic career plan and seeking employment, including topics on interviewing, resume writing, negotiating, and work adjustment.

The text relies on a theory-based approach with practical knowledge developed by the authors, via their personal experiences of providing career services to college students.  Reardon et al. designed the book as a comprehensive text for undergraduate students learning about career development and allows for the exploration of options related to unique life situations.  The book plays on the metaphor of career development as a journey that involves seeing both the forest and the trees, requiring both the job seeker and the career counselor to be able to identify key elements not only on an individual level, but also in relation to the job, the career, and the economic market.   The authors also connect self-exploration with the context of work, demonstrating how effective strategies used in the transition from college into the workplace can later be utilized throughout an individual's career journey to ensure that s/he is on the right path, or to provide the means for switching to a new path.

The authors utilize and effectively integrate recent studies documenting the effectiveness of "curricular intervention", using cognitive information processing (CIP) theory as the skeletal framework and overall organizational schema to broaden students' understanding of career problem-solving and enhance their career decision making self-efficacy.  CIP theory assumes that before an individual can make a sound career decision, s/he needs to accumulate a wide range of knowledge about career development and acquire various learning strategies to solve career related problems.  By incorporating this theoretical model, the authors demonstrate how to use the CIP paradigm to build a Personal Career Theory and apply it to the job-hunting process. 

Additionally, the text describes the Pyramid of Information Processing Domains associated with CIP theory.  At the base of the pyramid, various life/career options and information on occupations, education, and leisure are presented.  The second stage of the pyramid discusses the CASVE cycle for decision making (Communication - identifying a gap; Analysis - interrelating the problem components; Synthesis - creating likely alternatives; Valuing - prioritizing alternatives; Execution - forming means-ends strategies).  Finally, the top of the pyramid discusses executive processing and dealing with meta-cognitions.  The authors, however, do not simply stop with CIP, but go on to provide information on other career developmental theories, including Holland's RIASEC theory, Roe, Parsons, Super, and MBTI. 

The 3rd edition not only builds on the information presented in previous editions, but also provides new information about occupational classifications, labor market projections extended to 2016, and clearer directions for completing assignments provided in appendices (for example, the career field analysis research paper).  In addition, the instructor's manual provides several useful resources for instructors utilizing this text, incorporating active learning strategies and over 350 redesigned PowerPoint slides based on material in the text!

The authors state that with the 3rd edition of their book, they had hoped to achieve the following goals: 1) provide readers and students with updates sources and new information about occupations and employment  (including describing new systems for the delivery of occupational information, work/life balance, research about employment, ways to work, and developments with the Internet); 2) remove material from previous editions that was too conceptually dense in places in order to provide students a more user-friendly text; 3) update the instructor's manual with more strategies based on principles of "active learning" and providing worksheets, assignments, and other learning tools for students; and, 4) print the book as a paperback to make it affordable for students.

Career Development and Planning succeeds in its mission to not only provide students with the breadth of knowledge necessary by conveying sufficient underlying theoretical knowledge in an easy to understand manner as well as sound practical skills needed to assist job seekers on the path to finding satisfying careers, but also does justice to the notion of providing an everyday handbook and resource manual for career and vocational counselors working in the field and teaching undergraduate students.  Instructors will find the organization of the material and the addition of the supplemental material helpful when teaching. Having both the perspective of taking vocational/career counseling courses as well as being lecturers, teaching undergraduate students the basics of rehabilitation, vocational, and career counseling, this text is highly recommended to both students and faculty. Written for students and the lay reader, the text provides a great deal of information in an easy-to-read format that can be utilized by individuals working in the vocational/career counseling field. 

Ronald Z Piaseczny Ronald Z. Piaseczny, J.D., M.S., C.R.C. is currently enrolled as a doctoral student in Counselor Education, State University of New York at Buffalo, SUNY.  He has taught a number of undergraduate courses some of which focus on vocational/career counseling. He is currently working as a mental health counselor in Buffalo, NY. rzpiaseczny@yahoo.com

Jessica Sniatecki Jessica L. Sniatecki, Ph.D., C.R.C. received her Ph.D. in Counselor Education, the State University at Buffalo, SUNY.  Dr. Sniatecki has been an instructor of a number of graduate and undergraduate courses in the area of rehabilitation, vocational, and career counseling. jlkane@buffalo.edu 

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