Career: How do you know your ‘Career Anchor’? - Alita A.

What is a career anchor and how does it help? How do we identify our career anchor? Identifying your career direction is indeed a crucial task. Self-satisfaction is the outcome received during a successful career planning. Most studies suggest that having the right skill set, personality attributes, educational qualifications, experiences, and understanding one’s interests/motives is all that requires for effective career management. However, about 52% of the individuals convey that they would want to choose a different career if they had the chance to start over again (Belli, 2017).

Why is that?

Well, the study suggests that most of the respondents were looking for a challenging, exciting professional projects or opportunities. Even though they had the pre-requisites, essential qualities for pursuing a successful future in their pursuing career, but along the way, inconsistency, lack of motivation caught up with them.

What could be the underlying cause for it?

Progression in a career is not just about enhancing skills or qualities. Nowadays, individuals need to strive for adaptability/flexibility to achieve fulfillment in the long run, irrespective of the field or career path. Some individuals might prefer innovative and creative projects or encounters, while some might prefer stability and permanency. Identifying what keeps one motivated, while maintaining a healthy work-life harmony, is essential. Considering millennials, they show high resilience in terms of career progression especially during the uncertain situations preceded by Covid-19. Resilience and adaptability are two terms often used interchangeably because building resilience allows one to treat setback and success as positive learning experiences (Ubi Binene, 2020). In a survey, about 75% of the employees say that a relationship with their co-workers is what influences one’s resilience the most (Ovans,2015). Hence, suggesting the significance of enhancing resilience, thereby building self-efficacy through awareness, is vital for career management and employability.

According to Schein’s theory, each individual has a major career theme or anchor, and identifying them can help the person find the most suitable roles or careers that can satisfy them persistently. The career anchor can be an important tool in identifying which work environment suits the person and thereby help in the process of career planning. Schein’s career anchors are a great primary tool for self-awareness and to understand one’s core strengths.

He has devised 8 career anchors:

1. Technical/Functional: Constantly seek an opportunity to acquire/develop skills in a particular field and aim to be highly skilled in that discipline. They prefer challenging environments that allow them to exhibit their skills.

2. General Managerial: Interests in assembling, managing inputs from team members, and appeals taking responsibility for the outcome of the entire team.

3. Autonomy/Independence: wants to accomplish the tasks given, in their own defined way and enjoys taking pride in that. Seeks independence throughout the process of completing the task and does not entertain other interference.

4. Security/Stability: They prefer highly structured organizations and predictable environments. They value the pay, bonus, and additional benefits rather than the type of work they handle.

5. Entrepreneurial Creativity: Pro-activeness and innovation are the top traits they possess. They are loaded with creative ideas and take pride in ownership; however, they also love to take suggestions and inputs from other co-workers as well. They enjoy working together as a team towards a goal.

6. Service/Dedication to a Cause: Their role reflects their core values rather than skill set. They desire to serve the community.

7. Pure challenge: They love to take up challenging tasks and work in a problem-solving environment. They need constant change in their work-routine environment to remain motivated hence they are also generally called job-hoppers.

8. Lifestyle: They consider work-life balance the utmost priority, hence would not choose an occupation that can alter that balance. And they prefer working in an easy-going culture that is not too demanding.

According to a study, security and service anchors are the most dominant career anchors. Also, it was noted that an individual might be inclined to multiple career anchors as well (Meiliani, 2014). By aligning one’s interests, skills, and motivations to Schein’s career anchors can be helpful in identifying the dominant career theme. This will help in achieving job satisfaction, better chances of liking the occupation and the work culture.



Meiliani, M. (2014). Career anchors and job satisfaction: the role of psychological empowerment in the indonesian public university context | Semantic Scholar. Sematic Scholar.

Uviebinene, E. (2020, April 29). When it comes to careers, millennials are resilient. Financial Times.

Ovans, A. (2015). What resilience means, and why it matters. Harvard Business Review, 5.

Belli, G. (2017, September 13). 52 Percent Say They'd Choose a Different Career If They Could Start Over. PayScale.

Morrison, M. (2016, May 8). Career Anchors – Edgar Schein. RapidBI.

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