Turning Point

Turning Point and the Career Guidance Client


Harveven (2000, cited in Gardiner et al, 2009) defined ‘turning points’ as ‘individuals’ subjective assessments of continuities and discontinuities over their life course, especially the impact of special events on their subsequent life course’.   Strauss (1962, cited in Hodkinson & Sparkes, 1997, p39) refers to career development as a series of ‘turning points’, this would suggest a lifetime requirement for career guidance as mention previously. Conversely, when and why does a professional reach a turning point and decide to source a career guidance practitioner for assistance? Would this juncture be a major realisation in one’s life, so much so that they need assistance and guidance? Perhaps at this major turning point they have a better realisation of oneself and the world of work as suggested by Super’s (1957, cited in Hancock, 2009) thoughts around developmentalism, ‘that there are stages that people pass through before individuals know enough about themselves and the world of work to be able to settle on a stable career’ (Hancock, 2009, p121). They may also come to a realism that their current path is not for them and maybe they would like to investigate alternative careers and require a career guidance practitioner to help challenge their perspective, made aware of options and potential difficulties and ultimately aid the decision making process.



Hodkinson et al. (cited in Hancock, 2009) claims that a person at a turning point ‘goes through a transformation of identity’, they also identify ‘three types of turning point, classified according to their causes: first, structural ones, such as leaving school; second, incidents which impact on a person but are outside their control and third, decisions within a person’s control.’ Osterman (1989, cited in Hancock, 2009, p131) claims that between the ages of 18-25 young people from working class families are in a period of ‘moratorium’ whereby they focus less on their career and more on social activities. This research may add statistical fact to Osterman’s claims and back up his claim by analysing the completed ‘make an appointment forms’. The research may also suggest that the typical client that will seek and pay for private career guidance has reached a major turning point in their life and are predominately above 25 years of age and based on a decision within their personal control.



Osipow (1983, cited in Hancock 2009, p123) claims that individuals will take the ‘line of least resistance’. Hancock (2009, p131) claims that ‘young people therefore seem to be less capable than adults of entering into the kind of cognitive processes that most of the normative models of career choice suggest lead to good decision-making; decisions are more likely to be influenced by affective reasons and/or made through a conative rather than cognitive process.’ Is behavioural change for young people influenced by impulse because they have yet to reach a level of reflective personal awareness? Are parents making career decisions for young people at an early age and only at a later stage in life realise that a major turning point is required due to the low levels of cognitive knowledge. Perhaps only when they have developed as Super (1957, cited in Hancock, 2009) relates to with regard to self-awareness and the world of work. How can a young adult ‘take stock, to re-evaluate, revise, resee, and rejudge’ (Super, 1957, cited in Hodkinson & Sparkes, 1997), when they are short of life experiences and work experience. Perhaps it is inevitable that one must learn from life’s mistakes; however as Watts (1998) points out career guidance reduces drop-outs from education and training, and mismatches in the labour market. It offers benefits to education and training providers, increasing the effectiveness of their provision by linking learners to programmes which meet their needs. It offers benefits to employers, by helping employees to come forward whose talents and motivations meet the employer’s requirements. Watts (1998) is suggesting that effective career guidance can offset future turning points and wastage.


‘Extract from Career Guidance Dissertation, for details of references, please contact me directly: diarmuid@careerguidance.ie’


Diarmuid Haughian

MA Career Guidance, QCG

Turning Point

Turning Point