Career Development and Planning: A Comprehensive Approach

Book Review by Lissa Joy Geiken

Career Development and Planning: A Comprehensive Approach (4th Ed.) by Robert C. Reardon, Janet G. Lenz, Gary W. Peterson, and James P. Sampson.  Kendall Hunt Publishing Company, 2012, 314 pp. ISBN 9781465200068. $70.00


I am honored to have the opportunity to review the fourth edition of Career Development and Planning created by Robert C. Reardon, Janet G. Lenz, Gary W. Peterson, and James P. Sampson Jr, who are well-accomplished scholars and educators in the career development field. You can avoid the extraordinary amount of time required for finding a textbook and developing teaching materials and learning activities for a career development course for college students, as this text and the instructor’s manual can guide your course and the course of your students’ career journeys. In keeping with the historical perspective of NCDA’s 100th anniversary year, I note that this is not only the fourth edition of what has become a landmark text in our field by four preeminent career development practitioners, but this is also the third review of these texts to appear in Career Convergence. The changes and adaptations from the first edition to the fourth edition chronicle the developments that have taken place so rapidly in our profession over the last 15 years.


For Whom and What Purpose


The text and accompanying instructor’s manual concisely yet comprehensively lay out a career planning course for helping college students clarify their career interests, better understand the factors involved in their career decision-making, and strategically prepare for obtaining employment. While the text is intended for undergraduate college students enrolled in a variable credit college level course, its usefulness could also extend to graduate students, clients of career counseling, or to students in a high school course. Additionally, as a career development professional, I found the text a valuable reference source as well as a resource for career counselors-in-training.


Summary of Text


In this fourth edition, Reardon and his colleagues updated sources and provided new information, while simultaneously paring the text down to the essentials in three sections.  Using the Cognitive Information Processing (CIP) approach they developed decades ago, the building blocks of the theory organize the chapters and sections of the book.  CIP theory assumes that decision making is improved by knowing the informational domains involved in the career decision-making and by learning strategies to effectively process the information. First, students are guided to clarify their values, interests, skills, and career-related options. Next, students learn about career decision-making, meta-processing, and modern day factors influencing the world of work. The remaining chapters are dedicated to helping students execute their desired career paths with a focus on job search skills, negotiating and evaluating job offers, and navigating the early stages of a career.


Main Points


The CIP paradigm involves multiple knowledge areas organized in building blocks of a Pyramid of Information-Processing Domains and encompasses self and occupational knowledge, decision skills using a sequential procedure called CASVE, and meta-cognitions which include thinking about one’s decision-making and addressing self-talk.  CASVE involves communication (such as identifying a need or problem), analysis (clarifying what is needed and how to acquire it), synthesis (identifying acceptable alternatives), valuing (prioritizing based on values, impact and outcome), and execution (implementing a plan of action).  These processes of advancing one’s knowledge and practicing decision-making skills are ongoing throughout one’s career path. Reardon and his colleagues provide useful information about the common obstacles of negative thinking in each of the pyramid domains and CASVE phases and suggestions for challenging and reframing these. 


Examining modern day macro-level factors that impact career options can help students be strategic in their thinking and planning, such as technology and global markets, organizational culture, alternative ways of working, and the evolving nature of engendered relationships. The authors summarize these relevant concepts from highly recognized economists, citing data on labor market trends and observing contemporary cultural workforce and organization changes, to help inform students’ career decisions and integrate these into each of the Pyramid of Information-Processing Domains. 


The methods and level of engagement the emerging workforce needs for a job campaign are well described by the authors and incorporate contemporary strategies, such as the use of social media networking, communication protocol with potential employers, and a wealth of internet resources.  The practical guidance on evaluating job offers, negotiating salaries or benefits, and adjusting to a new workplace is cohesively tied in to the CIP approach.


Special Features


Extensive effort has gone into developing and validating this career development course, including Reardon teaching the course over 75 times and peer review of the course material in 9 journals. The text and instructor’s manual provide many features needed for a variable unit course including up to 28 classes, over 370 PowerPoint slides and presentation suggestions, activities and assignment worksheets, a syllabus, sample grading rubric, and test items for quizzes or exams. The appendices include a glossary of meticulously defined terms, a study guide worksheet to help students process the information from each chapter, and assignment instructions for a variety of tasks useful for career development. These assignments include informational interviews, an analysis of career fields of interest, writing an autobiography to prepare for job interviews, a resume critique worksheet, strategic academic/career planning, and exercises for improving career thoughts.




Strengths of this text and the accompanying instructor’s manual include a comprehensive yet concise, easy-to-read format, with flexible options for the classes, and a valuable theory-based cognitive focus.  This text was fine-tuned and resolves earlier weaknesses in prior editions by further attending to the role of emotion and intuition in decision making, and the content pruned so that it’s more manageable for both the students and instructors without losing essential information. It is no surprise that there is research that demonstrates validity for the curriculum. The assignments are the bread and butter of the course and invoke the active learning espoused by the authors. The assignments are flexible enough to fit a variety of units and course requirements.  In a future edition, I would want the PowerPoint slides to orient students to the more engaging learning activities listed as options rather than focus on lecture content from the text. Additionally, while creative activities are woven into the course plan, the incorporation of additional constructivist approaches may further provoke insight into patterns of values, interests, personality, and skills that are priorities to students who prefer nonlinear approaches to self-exploration. In all, this text provides a guide to students and instructors along a course through career discovery and strategic employment planning.




Lissa Joy GeikenLissa Joy Geiken, Ph.D., is a Licensed Psychologist and the Career Counseling Program Coordinator at the University of California Davis. Her early career path took her to Oregon to help promote the independent living of adults with disabilities and to the island of Oahu to teach children about trust and ways to conserve their natural environment. Contemplating her career path, she became determined to become a career counselor and has taught career development college courses in a number of academic settings since then. She can be reached through e-mail at lgeiken@shcs.ucdavis.edu.

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1 Comment

Matt Cardin   on Sunday 02/03/2013 at 09:19 PM

I agree with Dr. Geilen's review and assessment of the book. I recently read/reviewed this textbook for my career development course and would recommend it. It also makes a good reference book and could be used in training new counselors. It is a book to add to your reading list.

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