Career Anchors - Edgar Schein (2023)

Career Anchors - Edgar Schein (1)

Edgar Schein, widely acclaimed as one of the founders of the field of modern organizational psychology, suggests that every one of us has a particular orientation towards work and that we all approach our work with a certain set of priority and values. He calls this concept our ‘Career Anchors’.

A “Career Anchor” is a combination of perceived areas of competence, motives, and values relating to professional work choices.

Often, people select a career for all the wrong reasons, and find their responses to the workplace are incompatible with their true values. This situation results in feelings of unrest and discontent and in lost productivity.

To help people avoid these problems, Career Anchors help people uncover their real values and use them to make better career choices.

(Video) Ed Schein – Advice for Young Scholars: Find Your Career Anchors

Career Anchors – include talents, motives, values and attitudes which give stability and direction to a person’s career – it is the ‘motivator’ or ‘driver’ of that person.

A career anchor is the one element in your self-concept that you will not give up, even in the face of difficult choices.

Identify your career anchors and how well you perceive these to match your current job

Edgar Schein at MIT identified eight career anchor themes (see table below) and has shown that people will have prioritized preferences for them. Schein identified these career anchors to enable people to recognize their preferences for certain areas in their job.

For example a person with a primary theme of Security/Stability will seek secure and stable employment over, say, employment that is challenging and riskier. People tend to stay anchored in one area and their career will echo this in many ways.

Understanding your preference will help you plan your career in a way that is most satisfying to you. For example, a person with a primary theme of security/stability will seek secure and stable employment over employment that is challenging and riskier. People will be more fulfilled in their careers if they can acknowledge their career anchors and seek jobs that are appropriate for these.

(Video) Schein's Career Anchors

Career anchor categoryTraits
Technical/functional competenceThis kind of person likes being good at something and will work to become a guru or expertThey like to be challenged and then use their skills to meet the challenge, doing the job properly and better than almost anyone else
Managerial competenceThese people want to be managersThey like problem-solving and dealing with other peopleThey thrive on responsibility

To be successful, they also need emotional competence

Autonomy/independenceThese people have a primary need to work under their own rules and ‘steam’They avoid standards and prefer to work alone
Security/stabilityThese people seek stability and continuity as a primary factor of their livesThey avoid risk and are generally ‘lifers’ in their job
Entrepreneurial creativityThese people like to invent things, be creative and most of all to run their own businessesThey differ from those who seek autonomy in that they will share the workloadThey find ownership very important

They get easily bored Wealth, for them, is a sign of success

Service/dedication to a causeService-orientated people are driven more by how they can help other people than by using their talentsThey may work in public services or in areas such as human resources
Pure challengePeople driven by challenge seek constant stimulation and difficult problems that they can tackleSuch people will change jobs when the current one gets boring, and their career can be varied
LifestyleThose who are focused first on lifestyle look at their whole pattern of livingRather than balance work and life, they are more likely to integrate the twoThey may even take long periods of time off work in which to indulge in passions such as travelling

With the themes identified by Schein in mind, complete the table below – this will help you identify how well suited you are to your current job. By completing this tool, it may highlight that you are in the right sort of job or that you need a change if you are going to succeed in your desired career path. This may be a positive thing as it will give you insight into your future goals and objectives.

Identify your career anchors and how well you perceive these to match your current job:

Schein career anchorHow important is this aspect of your career to you(score out of 5, where 0 is not important and 5 is vital)How does this match with your current post?(score out of 5, where 0 is not important and 5 is vital)
Technical/functional competence
Managerial competence
Entrepreneurial creativity
Service/dedication to a cause
Pure challenge

An alternative way of using the Career Anchors:

(Video) Career Anchors

Career AnchorsMy motivator or driverImplications for me.
Technical and Functional Competence – what you would not give up is the opportunity to apply your skills in the area of technical/functional competence and develop those skills to a high level.
Managerial Competence – what you would not give up is the opportunity to climb to a high enough level in the organisation. You want to be responsible for total results; you seek challenging assignments and leadership opportunities.
Autonomy and Independence – what you would not give up is the opportunity to define your own work in your own way, in your own time, to your own standards. You would turn down opportunities for advancement in order to retain autonomy.
Security and Stability – what you would not give up is employment security. Your main concern is to achieve a sense of having succeeded so that you can relax; you are concerned about financial security and less concerned with work content and rank in the organisation.
Entrepreneurial Creativity – what you would not give up is the opportunity to create your own organisation or enterprise. You are restless by nature, constantly require new creative challenges and are willing to take risks and overcome obstacles.
Variety – why do you seek variety? What are your range of talents and drivers that you wish to fulfil?
Power, Influence and Control – Do you enjoy controlling others? How important is this to you?
Service to others – do you get a lot of satisfaction in helping others? Is this important to your lifestyle?
Basic Identity – do you prefer to wear a uniform or something similar?

What next?

Is there a mismatch between what career anchors you rate as being most important to you and those that relate to your current situation?

  • You could discuss the completed table: Identify your career anchors and how well you perceive these to match your current job, with your career mentor, partner at home or a trusted friend.
  • If you find that most things you value are not part of your current job, this might give you the impetus to make some specific career plans and move on.
  • If you find there is a good match, you are likely to be in the right job or role.

Using Careers Anchors

The thought of a career change can be confusing, stressful, and scary for some. Others seize the chance to make a change for the better, even if it means a shift in income, location, lifestyle or training.

Changing to a trade-based career may be an option for people who prefer practical roles, hands-on work, specialized skills or the desire to work for themselves and not be confined to an office.

So, if you’re having trouble dragging yourself out of bed and off to work – here are some tips for career changing:

  1. Think about what you really enjoy doing
    You can structure the following activity to help you discover your passion and/or strengths:
    List 5 things you love doing
    List 5 things you love doing AND you’re good at (they could include the first 5 activities, but they might not!)
    Think about whether any of the above fall into an occupational group – for example, a person who love turning wood probably will enjoy carpentry or joinery (Building & Construction). Someone that loves clothes and can draw may be well suited to clothing design, manufacturing, costume making or millinery (Manufacturing). If you like the outdoors, active careers can be found in landscaping, horticulture or building (Rural & Farming).
  2. Think about the achievements you would value in life
    Expert on organisational leadership and culture, Edgar Schein identified 8 career anchors. These anchors are what drives people to success. Once you discover your career anchors (i.e. what drives you) you can focus your career more effectively.
    To discover your career anchors – List the 8 anchors on paper and spend half an hour ordering them in priority according to what drives you, and what’s important to you. Then, come back to the 8 in two days time and see if you’d swap anything around. This activity can provide real clarity about what it is you want in life and what work, career or trade skill you might enjoy.
  3. Seek feedback from others about what you’re good at
    In your workplace, school, tech or your family there are people around you who may have valuable feedback about your strengths and weaknesses. Playing to your strengths make sense. There’s little use in being passionate about gardening if you are really a black thumb. It’s important to focus on passions with a dose of reality – rather than daydreaming.
    Ask them what they think you’re good at. Ask them if they have observed you doing something with real interest, engagement and enjoyment. Knowing how other people see you and have observed you can be a real insight to yourself.
  4. Research the options for re-training
    By now you may have identified one or two real possibilities for a career based on a greater understanding of your passion, strengths and career anchors. Now’s the time to research what skills are required to get there. You can watch all sorts of videos on this site that explore the passions other people have discovered in skilled trades. You can also search profiles on other career sites or the Internet generally. You can also read our guide on How to get an Apprenticehip if your career path requires it.
  5. Put a plan in place to do it!
    If you’re a school leaver – you’ll need to plan the 5 key steps to getting where you want to be – will you need an apprenticeship? What training must you enrol in? By when should you find an employer? Write yourself a short list and go!

If you’ve just finished studying or are mid-career and looking for a change – you’ll need to plan the 5 changes to make in your life to get there. Will you need to quit your job or can the company accommodate you in the field of your choice? Can you change to an apprenticeship program or do you need a different employer? Do you need to relocate or change salaries for a short period while retraining? Creating a plan will give you the confidence to follow through.
If you’re a senior manager or corporate defector you may be lucky enough to have acquired wealth and be able to make the change with little risk and some time on your side. If you have family commitments, a mortgage or other debts, you plan needs to reconsider what material aspects of you life need to be modified to reduce the pressure of earning a high income while you are changing careers and retraining.

(Video) Career Anchors (Schein, 1996) #shorts


  1. Schein, Edgar H, (1990 & 1996). Career Anchors (discovering your real values), Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer

About Edgar H. Schein

Edgar H. Schein was educated at the University of Chicago; at Stanford University, where he received a master’s degree in psychology; and at Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D. in social psychology.


Edgar Schein’s (1975) model of career anchors evolved out of a longitudinal study of about 44 Sloan Graduates covered over a period of over one decade.

For more information visit Scheine’s website or take the Career Anchor on-line

(Video) Schein's Career Anchors

Page reviewed April 2015
READ MORE: Freelance - Five Golden Rules to Consider as a Consultant


What are Career Anchors according to Schein? ›

The concept of the Career Anchors was introduced by Edgar Schein. A Career Anchor is something that develops over time and evolves into a self-concept, shaping an individual's personal identity or self-image and includes: Talents, skills and abilities - the things that we believe we are good at, and not so good at.

Which one of the following is career anchor? ›

Career Anchors – include talents, motives, values and attitudes which give stability and direction to a person's career – it is the 'motivator' or 'driver' of that person. A career anchor is the one element in your self-concept that you will not give up, even in the face of difficult choices.

What are Career Anchors quizlet? ›

career anchors. a network of self-perceived talents, motives, and values that guide an individuals career decisions. 5 types: technical/functional competence, managerial competence, autonomy and independence, creativity, secutiry/stability.

Which of the following is not a career anchor? ›

The answer is Aspiring capability. Reason: Because aspiring capability is not an example of career anchor.

What are the five stages of career development? ›

The model in this paper describes five processes criti- cal to effective career planning: initiation, exploration, decision-making, preparation, and implementation (Magnusson, 1991, 1992). The processes are cyclical, al- though a few clients may begin at initiation and proceed sequentially through to implementation.

What are the four career stages? ›

A career stage model demonstrates the four stages that individuals pass through in their careers. The four stages consist of establishment, advancement, maintenance and withdrawal. An individual can move through these four stages at any age depending upon when they begin their career.

Why anchoring is a challenging job? ›

With limited time and a host of opinionated guests speaking their minds out, it requires immense patience and leadership skills to navigate the programs smoothly. This is the reason why only the experienced reporters get to be TV anchors. The job is very challenging and successful anchors keep highly busy schedules.

Is it better to work to live or live to work argument? ›

Working to live means obtaining resources so that you can be a functional member of society, and to permit yourself a good lifestyle. On the other hand, “live to work” might be understood in two different ways. One is that your life is based around your work and nothing else, which could be pretty bad for you.

What is the age range associated with the mid career stage? ›

Mid-Career: This stage covers the age period of 35 to 45 years. At this stage, the individual is no longer considered to be a fresher and his mistakes are taken seriously by the senior management.

What is the meaning of career path? ›

A career path is a list of steps to take in your professional life for progressing into different or more advanced roles at work. It's a series of jobs and experiences that help employees reach their ultimate career objectives and future goals.

What are Career Anchors elucidate the stages of career life cycle? ›

There are distinct patterns of self-perceived talents, attitudes, motives and values that guide and stabilize a person's career after the initial years of earning real-world work experience and feedback. These patterns are called as Career Anchors.

What is career plateau? ›

What is career plateau? Career plateau occurs when an employee has reached the highest position level they can possibly obtain within an organization and have no future prospect of being promoted due to a lack of skills, corporate restructuring or other factors.

Which management development technique creates a realistic? ›

Role Playing: The aim of role playing is to create a realistic situation and then have the trainees assume the parts (or roles) of specific persons it that situation.

Which performance appraisal technique places a predetermined? ›

The correct option is D) forced distribution. Forced distribution is one of the appraisal tools used by the management to appraise employees.

Is the pattern of work related experiences that span the course of a person's life? ›

A career is defined as the pattern of work-related experiences that span the course of a person's life. All careers have objective and subjective elements that together form the basis of an individual's career.

Can you have more than one career anchor? ›

Although Schein proposed that each individual has only one career anchor, some researchers have stressed that one to three anchors tend to cluster together to form a person's career choices (Chapman, 2009; Coetzee & Schreuder, 2009; DeLong, 1982, 1987; Feldman & Bolino, 1996).

What is the process of career planning? ›

Career planning is a process of identifying the professional path that will suit your personality, interests and goals. It involves exploring different career options, performing a self-evaluation to test your suitability for these and finding the right ways to get on a career track.

What is career planning in human resource management? ›

Career planning is an ongoing process through which an individual sets career goals and identifies the means to achieve them. The process by which individuals plan their life's work is referred to as career planning.

What are the 6 stages of career planning? ›

6 Steps for Career Planning
  • Step 1: Explore Career Options. ...
  • Step 2: Conduct Field Research. ...
  • Step 3: Determine Your Job Target. ...
  • Step 4: Build Your Credentials and Resume. ...
  • Step 5: Prepare for Your Job Search. ...
  • Step 6: Launch Your Job Search.

What is career development model? ›

Career development is a life-long process. This Career Development Model provides a comprehensive framework for engaging in career exploration and planning. Each stage provides specific activities and resources to empower you to Know Yourself, Explore Pathways, Decide & Plan and Launch Your Future.

What is midlife career crisis? ›

You may have heard of a mid-life crisis but what about a mid-career crisis? It's a pesky little problem that sneaks up along your career journey (normally near the middle but not always). Usually, it happens when you've reached a career plateau. When your rise to success is more sluggish than meteoric.

Why is my career stuck? ›

If you feel that your values don't match the core values of your employer, it could be a reason why you're feeling stuck in your career and unhappy. It's important to work through this and identify whether it's the job that is not right for you, or if it's a great job but the organization or sector is wrong for you.

What are the challenges of career development? ›

10 challenges that affect career goals
  • Lack of qualifications. ...
  • Not enough experience. ...
  • Self-doubt. ...
  • Changes in industry. ...
  • Questions after promotion. ...
  • Time. ...
  • Fear. ...
  • Financial obligations.
14 Dec 2021

Is anchoring a good job? ›

The field is quite lucrative for successful anchors in the field. Several anchors in the whole world are successful and charge a very good amount for a single show or event. And they even get paid for that much because of their skills, tactics, experience, and hard work.

What do you need to be an anchor? ›

Television news anchors must have a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism or communications, relevant internship experience, and work experience in smaller cities. Learning the craft in small markets provides necessary training if a broadcast journalist wants to work their way up and become successful.

How do you become a reality show anchor? ›

In brief following skills are essential to become a successful TV anchor:
  1. Good voice modulation, articulation.
  2. Knowledge.
  3. Excellent language & communication skills.
  4. Versatility.
  5. Exciting attitude.
  6. Flexible approach towards the profession.
  7. Good, Camera friendly appearance.
  8. Smart disposition.

How close should you live to work? ›

Thirty minutes at most, according to the wisdom of the crowds. That comes from reams of data and piles of research that suggests commute times tend to cluster around this point.

Why do men find dignity at work? ›

The dignity of the person is lived out in society by the fulfillment of personal responsibilities. Work is one such essential responsibility which shapes and fulfills human dignity by providing for the needs of one's self and one's family.

Why do people live to work? ›

Living to Work

People who live to work are diligent and hardworking, and take pride in their role. They enjoy the benefits of promotions and growing business, but often prefer the satisfaction of climbing the career ladder than the money going into their pockets. Working to live and living to work have their downsides.

Which platform is best for job search? ›

Top 15 Best Websites for Job Search
  • Indeed Jobs. Indeed is the most popular of the top job sites. ...
  • Glassdoor. Wait, isn't Glassdoor just for learning salaries and company reviews? ...
  • LinkedIn Job Search. ...
  • Google for Jobs. ...
  • Monster. ...
  • ZipRecruiter. ...
  • SimplyHired. ...
  • CareerBuilder.
7 Jul 2022

How do you keep personal and professional life separate? ›

13 tips for separating your personal and professional lives
  1. Don't use your Facebook profile for work. ...
  2. Schedule your life, too. ...
  3. Start and stop on time. ...
  4. Pursue multiple passions. ...
  5. Maintain a very high sense of professionalism. ...
  6. Choose wisely. ...
  7. Separate you email accounts. ...
  8. Meditate.
27 Jan 2016

How long is mid level experience? ›

Because of this, mid-level positions can sometimes be split into mid-level and mid-senior level roles. In these cases, mid-level experience in years may be defined as around two to five years, while the mid-senior level would be around five to eight years.

What is the last stage in career planning? ›

The final step is evaluation of the progress made in inching towards the career goals. Evaluating one's success helps people keep a track of their progress and identify strengths and weaknesses in a career plan.

What are Career Anchors elucidate the stages of career life cycle? ›

There are distinct patterns of self-perceived talents, attitudes, motives and values that guide and stabilize a person's career after the initial years of earning real-world work experience and feedback. These patterns are called as Career Anchors.

What are the five traditional career stages in HRM? ›

Stages in Career Development – 5 Main Stages: Exploration, Establishment, Mid-Career, Late Career and Decline.

What are career values? ›

Career values are personal principles that help define your ideal professional environment. These values typically describe the environmental and role-dependent characteristics that you find most important in fostering job satisfaction, career advancement and success.

What is career path? ›

A career path is a smaller group of jobs within a career cluster that use similar skills. Each career cluster contains several career paths. You can start in a lower-lever job in a career path and, with more education and experience, move up within that path.

What are the 4 stages of career development? ›

Career development is an ongoing process consisting of four main recurring steps: self knowledge, exploration, decision-making, and action.

What are the 6 stages of career planning? ›

6 Steps for Career Planning
  • Step 1: Explore Career Options. ...
  • Step 2: Conduct Field Research. ...
  • Step 3: Determine Your Job Target. ...
  • Step 4: Build Your Credentials and Resume. ...
  • Step 5: Prepare for Your Job Search. ...
  • Step 6: Launch Your Job Search.

What are the models of career development? ›

The Career Management Model consists of five steps: Assessment: Clarify and understand your interests, skills, values, and personality. Research: Explore career or job opportunities that interest you. Make decisions and set goals: Evaluate the pros and cons of feasible options and create goals and timelines.

What are the principles of career development? ›

Five Principles of Career Development

Focus on the Journey – Don't focus on one destination only. Recognise that your career journey will be throughout your lifetime. Appreciate and value each experience along the way. Know yourself, believe in yourself and follow the HEART – Pursue your passion to find fulfilment.

What is career development cycle in HRM? ›

Career development is the support an organization provides to employee professional growth, especially to employees' movement to a new position or project within the organization. This support often includes coaching, mentoring, skills development, networking and career pathing.

What are the 5 values? ›

The Human Values of Love, Peace, Truth, Right Conduct and Nonviolence are latent in every human being, they are our very natural and true characteristic.

What are some career goals examples? ›

What are examples of typical career goals?
  • Increase professional knowledge and training. ...
  • Increase earnings. ...
  • Improve low-functioning work processes or relationships. ...
  • Have new experiences. ...
  • Attain a leadership role.

Which position is the entry level job? ›

Entry level job term refers to bottom-level employment position in the company that generally does not require experience, training or higher level of education.

What is your ideal job answer? ›

Consider what you're passionate about, be it professional or personal. See if there is an element of the job for which you are applying that relates to your passion. Look at the daily job duties or goals of the company to help you determine any overlap.

What type of career growth is most important to you answer? ›

Other Potential Answers For Things That Are Most Important to You in a Job
  • Job is stimulating & challenging.
  • Able to learn new things and develop your skill set.
  • Achieve measurable results.
  • Feel valued and a core part of the team.
  • Opportunities to grow and progress within the company.
26 Jan 2022


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