Contact usCall us on 0800 222 733
One of Donald Super’s greatest contributions to career development has been his emphasis on the importance of the development of self-concept. According to Super, self-concept changes over time, and develops as a result of experience. As such, career development is lifelong.
Hover your mouse over each stage to read more about its characteristics
Super developed the theories and work of colleague Eli Ginzberg – he thought that Ginzberg’s work had weaknesses, which he wanted to address. Super extended Ginzberg’s life and career development stages from three to five, and included different substages.
Super argues that occupational preferences and competencies, along with an individual’s life situations, all change with time and experience. Super developed the concept of vocational maturity, which may or may not correspond to chronological age: people cycle through each of these stages when they go through career transitions.
Super’s five life and career development stages
Development of self-concept, attitudes, needs and general world of work
"Trying out" through classes, work hobbies. Tentative choice and skill development
Entry-level skill building and stabilisation through work experience
Continual adjustment process to improve position
Reduced output, prepare for retirement
Developmental tasks at these different stages
Early adulthood 25-45
Middle adulthood 45-65
Late adulthood 65+
Giving less time to hobbies
Reducing sports participation
Focusing on essentials
Reducing working hours
Verifying current occupational choice
Making occupational position secure
Holding one's own against competition
Keeping what one enjoys
Getting started in a chosen field
Settling down in a suitable position
Developing new skills
Doing things one has wanted to do
Learning more about opportunities
Finding desired opportunity
Identifying new tasks to work on
Finding a good retirement place
Developing a realistic self-concept
Learning to relate to others
Accepting one's own limitations
Developing and valuing non-occupational roles
Super states that in making a vocational choice individuals are expressing their self-concept, or understanding of self, which evolves over time. People seek career satisfaction through work roles in which they can express themselves and further implement and develop their self-concept.
- Brown, D, and Brooks, L (Eds), ‘Career Choice and Development: Applying Contemporary Theories to Practice’, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002.
- Department of Employment Services, ‘Developmental Theories’, accessed December 2008, (http://does.dc.gov).