2 The four Cs of career adaptability
As you have already learned, career resilience is your ability to ‘bounce back’ from challenge and disruption. Career adaptability is the more focused consideration of how you’re going to bounce back or adapt to those challenges.
According to the Warwick Institute for Employment Research, career adaptability refers to the ‘capability of an individual to make a series of successful transitions where the labour market, organisation of work and underlying occupational and organisational knowledge bases may all be subject to considerable change’ (Brown et al., 2012, p. 755).
In the next activity, you’ll explore your own career adaptability in more detail.
Activity 3 Assessing career adaptability
First, think of someone you know who has made a series of successful career transitions. Which attitudes, skills or attributes would you say made a difference for them?
Now, have a go at this career adaptability questionnaire. It is developed around the four Cs model of career adaptability (which you’ll explore in more detail after this activity).
Different people use different strengths to build their careers. No one is good at everything, and each of us emphasises some strengths more than others. Please rate how strongly you have developed each of the following adaptabilities using the table below, where 1 is ‘Not strong’, and 5 is ‘Strongest’.
|Strengths||Score (1 to 5)|
|1. Thinking about what my future will be like|
|2. Realising the implications of today’s choices for my future|
|3. Preparing for the future|
|4. Becoming aware of the education and career choices of others|
|5. Planning how to achieve my goals|
|6. Actively engaging with my career|
|7. Remaining positive|
|8. Making decisions by myself|
|9. Taking responsibility for my actions|
|10. Acting in line with my values and principles|
|11. Relying on myself|
|12. Doing what’s right for me|
|13. Exploring my opportunities|
|14. Looking for opportunities to grow as a person|
|15. Investigating options before making a choice|
|16. Observing different ways of doing things|
|17. Probing deeply into questions that I have|
|18. Becoming curious abut new opportunities|
|19. Performing tasks efficiently|
|20. Taking care to do things well|
|21. Learning new skills|
|22. Working to my full potential|
|23. Overcoming obstacles|
|24. Solving problems|
Now add up the scores for each of the four sections.
You’ll find out more to help you interpret your responses as you explore the four Cs of career adaptability – concern, control, curiosity and confidence – in more detail and move on to Activity 4.
In the context of career resilience – the more you can understand about your preferences in adapting to challenge, the greater your potential resilience. For example, if you know that your preferred focus is on curiosity, making sure you research possible future roles thoroughly and have a plan for what you might do if things change, will boost your career resilience.
In this model, as you may have noticed, the questions come in four areas – the four Cs of career adaptability. These four dimensions, devised by academics Toni Wright and Gill Frigerio at Canterbury Christ Church and Warwick Universities, are:
- Concern: the key question here is ‘Do I have a future?’ – individuals with high concern are seen to be looking ahead, scanning their environment for the need to change and taking a planning, future-oriented approach to their career. Individuals with low concern may need support to help them believe in the future and extend their thinking. You’ll explore the concept of control further in the next section.
- Control: characterised by the question ‘Who owns my future?’ – high control is evidenced through a disciplined, organised, deliberate approach to moving through work life.
- Curiosity: this addresses ‘What will I do?’ – it involves exploration of options, through experiences or daydreams, the seeking of information and clarification of values to allow a sense of calling to develop.
- Confidence: this refers to the question ‘Can I do it?’ and looks at self-esteem, self-efficacy and courage.
Activity 4 Assessing your own career adaptability
Now take a few minutes to look back through your responses to the questionnaire.
Start by considering your current preferred approach (highest score), i.e. whether your career adaptability is mostly driven by concern, control, curiosity or confidence.
Now look at an area where further development could be beneficial (your lowest score).
Does this give you any insight into developing your career adaptability further? For example, if you’ve scored low on curiosity, you might benefit from some wider exploration of the options open to you. If you’ve scored high on concern, you’ll clearly have greater adaptability if you maintain a disciplined, organised approach to your future planning.
Note some possible actions you could take.
Looking at your lowest scores can indicate areas where you could develop your thinking further, for example:
If your lowest score is in concern – you might benefit from greater engagement with general career development processes such as exploring career ideas, making decisions and taking action.
If your lowest score is in control – you might benefit from setting yourself some clear goals and reflecting on previous positive experiences where you felt you had more control.
If your lowest score is in curiosity – you might benefit from widening your horizons, using your network to explore career information, finding a mentor etc.
If your lowest score is in confidence – you might benefit from boosting your self-esteem, or exploring the idea of positive self-talk.
One of the four Cs in this section is ‘control’, characterised by the question ‘who owns my future?’, and you’ll explore this idea in more detail in the next section.