Career development is a main topic in Personal Development. It is of academic and pedagogical interest to the writer who has been a lecturer for some tertiary education centres in Hong Kong. In this article, the writer presents his literature review findings on career development using the mind mapping-based literature review (MMBLR) approach. This approach was proposed by this writer in 2016 and has been employed to review the literature on a number of topics, such as supply chain management, strategic management accounting and customer relationship management (Ho, 2016). The MMBLR approach itself is not particularly novel since mind mapping has been employed in literature review since its inception. The overall aims of this exercise are to:

1. Render an image of the knowledge structure of career development via the application of the MMBLR approach;

2. Illustrate how the MMBLR approach can be applied in literature review on an academic topic, such as career development.

The findings from this literature review exercise offer academic and pedagogical values to those who are interested in the topics of career development, literature review and the MMBLR approach. Other than that, this exercise facilitates this writer’s intellectual learning on these three topics. The next section makes a brief introduction on the MMBLR approach. After that, an account of how it is applied to study career development is presented.

On mind mapping-based literature review

The mind mapping-based literature review (MMBLR) approach was developed by this writer in 2016 (Ho, 2016). It makes use of mind mapping as a complementary literature review exercise (see the Literature on mind mapping Facebook page and the Literature on literature review Facebook page). The approach is made up of two steps. Step 1 is a thematic analysis on the literature of the topic chosen for study. Step 2 makes use of the findings from step 1 to produce a complementary mind map. The MMBLR approach is a relatively straightforward and brief exercise. The approach is not particularly original since the idea of using mind maps in literature review has been well recognized in the mind mapping literature. The MMBLR approach is also an interpretive exercise in the sense that different reviewers with different research interest and intellectual background inevitably will select different ideas, facts and findings in their thematic analysis (i.e., step 1 of the MMBLR approach). Also, to conduct the approach, the reviewer needs to perform a literature search beforehand. Apparently, what a reviewer gathers from a literature search depends on what library facility, including e-library, is available to the reviewer. The next section presents the findings from the MMBLR approach step 1; afterward, a companion mind map is provided based on the MMBLR approach step 1 findings.

Mind mapping-based literature review on career development: step 1 findings

Step 1 of the MMBLR approach is a thematic analysis on the literature of the topic under investigation (Ho, 2016). In our case, this is the career development topic. The writer gathers some academic articles from some universities’ e-libraries as well as via the Google Scholar. With the academic articles collected, the writer conducted a literature review on them to assemble a set of ideas, viewpoints, concepts and findings (called points here). The points from the career development literature are then grouped into four themes here. The key words in the quotations are bolded in order to highlight the key concepts involved.

Theme 1: Descriptions of basic concepts and information

Point 1.1. “Career management … is the process by which individuals can make informed decisions regarding their work lives” (Greenhaus, Callanan and Kaplan, 1995);

Point 1.2. “As career is considered as a succession of related jobs …. or the evolving sequence of a person’s work experiences …., career success should be a dynamic concept that may change over time …. Thus, when people assess their career success, they make judgments not only about ‘how successful their career has been so far,’ but also about ‘how successful their career will be in the future.’..” (Pan and Zhou, 2015);

Point 1.3. “Schein … describes career anchors as stable collections of one’s career related needs, values, and talents. As a person gains a better understanding of his or her career anchor, it becomes “a stabilizing force [y] that guides and constrains [y] career choices”…” (Chapman and Brown, 2014);

Point 1.4. “Career indecision …. refers to the absence (or presence) of a career goal, as well as the degree of certainty attached to the goal. Employees are “career undecided” if they have either: • not established a career goal; or • established a goal with which they experience substantial uncertainty and discomfort” (Greenhaus, Callanan and Kaplan, 1995);

Point 1.5. “Career optimism is defined as the tendency for individuals to “expect the best possible outcome or to emphasize themost positive aspects of one’s future career development” …. While career optimism is positively related to work hope (i.e., a positive motivational state that enables individuals to derive a sense of successful agency, pathway, and goals in work situations, …, it is established that they are conceptually and empirically distinct from each other” (Garcia, Restubog, Bordia, Bordia and Roxas, 2015);

Theme 2: Major underlying theories and thinking

Point 2.1. ”Levinson …. suggests a punctuated equilibrium model of life development based on chronological age. …. life structures are defined by alternating periods of stability in which individuals pursue goals, values and related activities, and periods of transition in which the goals and activities of the previous period are re-appraised. …..The periods of stability permit individuals to focus on non-work issues, develop work skills, and mentally prepare themselves for transition periods” (Sullivan, 1999);

Point 2.2. “A career goal can signify that an employee has a clear picture of his or her future, and it can provide a target that guides one’s actions towards the satisfaction of important needs. Moreover, from the organization’s perspective, a career goal is thought to promote effective job performance and can serve as a basis for effective human resource planning” (Greenhaus, Callanan and Kaplan, 1995);

Point 2.3. “Career adaptability is embedded in career construction theory … and refers to the psychosocial resources that enable people to cope with career developmental tasks, transitions, and work traumas … Career adaptability constitutes a self-regulatory construct consisting of four dimensions (concern, control, confidence, and curiosity) that aid in current and anticipated work-related transitions” (Taber and Blankemeyer, 2015);

Point 2.4.“Consisting of a multifaceted range of content and process influences, the STF [Systems Theory Framework] illustrates the dynamic and complex nature of career development. Content influences depict the holistic nature of career development through three interconnecting systems (i.e., individual, social, and environmental–societal). The process influences, recursiveness (i.e., interaction between influences), change over time, and chance, depict career development as a dynamic and complex interplay of influences” (McMahon, 2011);

Point 2.5. “Hierarchical plateaus [in career] occur when the likelihood of additional hierarchical promotion is low…. Job content plateaus refer to lack of challenge or responsibility and overall staleness of the job itself ….. Employees who are not accomplishing career goals or lack status/seniority at work may believe their careers are stalling and experience hierarchical plateaus ….. Likewise, employees with unchallenging job tasks or boring routines may experience job content plateaus” (Wang, Hu, Hurst and Yang, 2014);

Point 2.6. “Super’s …. theory of career stages uses a life-span approach to describe how individuals implement their self-concept through vocational choices.…. the process of choosing an occupation that permits maximum self-expression occurs over time and can be summarized in four career stages: (1) exploration, a period of engaging in self-examination, schooling, and the study of different career options; (2) establishment, a period of becoming employed and finding a niche; (3) maintenance, a period of holding on to one’s position and up-dating skills; and (4) disengagement, a period of phasing into retirement” (Sullivan, 1999);

Point 2.7.“The aim of career construction theory is to be comprehensive in encouraging employment counselors to listen for a client’s career story from the perspectives of actor, agent, and author. Taking multiple perspectives on career stories enables counselors to offer clients a fitting intervention, whether it is vocational guidance for action, career education and coaching for agency, or career counseling to construct meaning” (Savickas, 2011);

Point 2.8. The CareerCycles (CC) method of practice …. uses career narratives as its point of departure. This constructivist model focuses on language, discourse, and theme development …. with a central task of creating career stories that individuals narrate with the guidance and encouragement of counselors. By creating their own personal career narratives, clients empower themselves to make career transitions, focus on exploring new career possibilities, and, at the same time, clarify their career and life domains” (Zikic and Franklin, 2010);

Point 2.9. “While it is widely acknowledged that both OCS [objective career success] and SCS [subjective career success] are crucial to individuals, increasingly more scholars directed their attention to SCS because of its far reaching influence on individuals as well as its complexity compared with objective success” (Pan and Zhou, 2015);

Point 2.10. “….a creative idea development process wherein one begins by applying the image of “breaking the mold” to career development and then extending the process further by considering other related images… the related images include synonyms for mold such as mould and mole-d (the mole is a small burrowing animal with limited vision). Together, these images reflect current career development issues, such as the need for flexibility, health, and vision (sight and insight). These concepts have both practical and theoretical relevance for employment counsellors” (Amundson, 2008);

Point 2.11. “….not all career metaphors are journeys. Consider some other common ways that we, as career experts and practitioners, think about careers. We echo theories of vocational fit in our talk of “finding the right slot” or of “square pegs in round holes.” …. We find a basis for rootedness and stability in careers in Schein’s …. “career anchors.” ….. we also like the idea of the flexibility of the “protean career,” based on Hall’s …. metaphor of the mythical figure of Proteus, who could change shape at will” (Inkson and Amundson, 2002);

Point 2.12. “Both players and purists [of undergraduates] recognise the competitive nature of the graduate labour market and are aware of the type of attributes and experience graduate employers are seeking in job applicants. However, players will engage in extra-curricular and other activities in order to enhance their employability. In contrast, purists believe they should simply be themselves. …. purists present the “authentic self” to employers, while players present the “competent/packaged self” to employers – and it is the latter who tend to be the most successful in the graduate labour market”…” (Greenbank, 2011);

Theme 3: Main research topics and issues

Point 3.1. “Traditionally, careers were thought to evolve within the context of one or two firms and were conceptualized to progress in linear career stages …. Success was defined by the organization and measured by promotions and increases in salary … This traditional model dominated much of the empirical research on careers” (Sullivan, 1999);

Point 3.2. “….while stage models imply long term employment with one or two firms, in reality most Americans change jobs every four-and-one-half years. Moreover, employment levels and new-job creation rates in large firms, where traditional careers typically flourish, are declining” (Sullivan, 1999);

Point 3.3. “…it is never easy to distinguish true theoretical progress from fads …. This is particularly the case for the careers field, where the challenges of studying careers have been inspiring an ever increasing number of scholars. ……What makes the discipline even more complex is that the concept of career is not the property of a single theoretical or disciplinary view” (Baruch, Szücs and Gunz, 2015);

Point 3.4.“A large body of research conducted over the past 40 or so years, designed to aid in understanding the nature of a persons’ career choice-making difficulties, has found that feelings of career indecision may be associated with a myriad of other constructs, including internal traits (e.g., self-esteem, trait anxiety) and states (e.g., choice and social anxiety) as well as contextual factors associated with external barriers (e.g., discrimination) and interpersonal conflicts. There have been several conceptual attempts to bring order to this mass of data by suggesting a smaller, overarching set of indecision sources” (Carr et al., 2014);

Point 3.5. “Although both Super …. and Levinson …. have stated their theories are applicable to both men and women, one of the major research questions plaguing both theories has been whether these models are truly generalizable to women” (Sullivan, 1999);

Point 3.6. “Based on the definition of career success as the accumulated positive work and psychological outcomes that are derived from one’s job or work experiences …., researchers proposed two types of career success: subjective career success (SCS) and objective career success (OCS). OCS [objective career success] is reflected by observable, measurable, and verifiable indicators …, such as salary, promotion, managerial level, and so on. SCS, in contrast, refers to an individual’s reaction to unfolding career experiences” (Pan and Zhou, 2015);

Point 3.7. “Career plateaus are associated with numerous negative consequences for employees, including lower job satisfaction and organizational commitment …. Findings from the few studies that have empirically examined the relationship between career plateaus and stress are inconsistent” (Wang, Hu, Hurst and Yang, 2014);

Point 3.8. “Future work self stems from the concept of possible selves that constitute the future-oriented aspects of the self-concept. These possible selves may be both positive and negative in terms of what one hopes to become and or hopes to avoid becoming ….. Theoretically, possible selves are a source of identity-based motivation that influences current behavior consistent with one’s characteristics and aimed toward the attainment of a desired future …. Within the context of possible selves, research has demonstrated its motivational influence on behavior related to career aspirations” (Taber and Blankemeyer, 2015);

Point 3.9. “Given the context and complexities of making choices, several researchers have offered taxonomies of decision-making styles or strategies that have been observed ….These taxonomies show the myriad of agonizing, hesitant, paralyzed, emotional, no-thought, rational, impulsive, dependent, compliant, fatalistic, internal, external, thinking, feeling, spontaneous and systematic ways of approaching a career decision” (Ceschi, Costantini, Phillips, and Sartori, 2017);

Point 3.10. “The Chaos Theory of Careers (CTC) …. construes both individuals and the contexts in which they develop their careers in terms of complex dynamical systems. ….. The CTC was formulated to address identified shortcomings in existing career theory. Early theories had positive aspects but were partial, segmental, too rational, too individual focused” (Bright, and Pryor, 2011);

Point 3.11. “The increase of women in the workforce worldwide and their global mobility has led to more research on international careers of women. Studies have shown that self-initiation of international work assignments is an increasing phenomenon among women” (Valk, der Velde, Engen and Godbole, 2014);

Point 3.12. “While it is not the only motivation for entering higher education, research suggests that the main reason many students want to go to university is to enhance their employability ….. It is therefore surprising to find that many undergraduates do not engage in the type of activities (e.g. early engagement with career decision making, participation in extra-curricular activities, etc.) that would enable them to compete better in the graduate labour market” (Greenbank, 2011);

Point 3.13. “Many researchers …. have established competencies that hospitality management programs should teach in order to prepare their students for successful careers in the industry. These studies focus on knowledge, skills, and attitudes in areas such as written and oral communication, customer service, problem solving, and leadership. However, very little research has investigated the attributes and competencies necessary for students to develop planning goals and strategies … and it is vitally necessary to understand this process” (Hertzman, Moreo and Winer, 2015);

Point 3.14. “Mentoring literature suggests that mentors can benefit from mentorship by increasing job performance, developing leadership skills, and achieving higher career success ….. On the other hand, the career plateau literature suggests that seasoned employees may experience career plateauing perceptions, which are associated with negative consequences for employees such as negative job attitudes and organizational outcomes …… Surprisingly, there have been very few studies that examine the two constructs together from the perspective of mentors” (Wang, Hu, Hurst and Yang, 2014);

Theme 4: Major trends and issues related to practices

Point 4.1. “Reasons for the growth in men’s interest in nontraditional careers are numerous. As the labor market becomes more gender balanced, more men may need to consider moving into careers that have been traditionally dominated by women …In addition, there have been calls for men to become increasingly involved in specific careers, such as education, so they can serve as positive role models ….. Men who choose to enter these careers, however, often encounter obstacles” (Jackson, Wright and Perrone-McGovern, 2010);

Point 4.2.“Self-help career assessments slowly began to gain popularity in the early 1970s, along with other psychological self-help tools that emerged at that time. Two landmark publications, John Holland’s The Self-Directed Search (SDS) (1970) and Richard Bolles’s What Color Is Your Parachute (1970), foreshadowed the tidal wave of user-friendly, self-guided career tools that would emerge decades later. Similarly, the appearance of the first computer-assisted career guidance systems …. in the 1970s, stimulated a new technological approach to self-help career intervention that has flourished with the increasing sophistication and availability of Internet-based communications” (Prince, Most and Silver, 2003);

Point 4.3. “Today’s careers are moving away from traditional, hierarchical trajectories and becoming more irregular and “boundaryless” ….In many instances, individuals can more proactively manage much of their careers on their own …. More focus exists on the specific interplay of work and family and of work and self, which, if viewed within the kaleidoscope metaphor, are dynamic and constantly in motion” (Zikic and Franklin, 2010);

Point 4.4. “Within the current work environment, the complexity of professional jobs has considerably increased …, contemporary careers are viewed as boundaryless … and organizations must be considered as dynamic stakeholders needing to face constant change and emergent related career issues” (Ceschi, Costantini, Phillips, and Sartori, 2017);

Point 4.5. “Workers outside of the traditional career model, who have “boundaryless careers,” are becoming the norm rather than the exception …. a boundaryless career is defined as “…a sequence of job opportunities that go beyond the boundaries of a single employment setting” … Some of the hallmarks of a boundaryless career include: portable skills, knowledge, and abilities across multiple firms …; personal identification with meaningful work …; on-the-job action learning …; the development of multiple networks and peer learning relationships ….; and individual responsibility for career management” (Sullivan, 1999);

Point 4.6. “The Millennial generation …. consists of those people born 1979–1994. Those in the largest birth year of 1990 would have started college in 2008 and be graduating in 2011–2013 …. Their behaviors that influence their academic and career choices and performance include a preference for experiential learning and desire for flexibility, convenience, collaboration, customization, and balanced lives” (Hertzman, Moreo and Winer, 2015);

Each of the four themes has a set of associated points (i.e., idea, viewpoints, concepts and findings). Together they provide an organized way to comprehend the knowledge structure of the career development topic. The bolded key words in the quotation reveal, based on the writer’s intellectual judgement, the key concepts examined in the career development literature. The referencing indicated on the points identified informs the readers where to find the academic articles to learn more about the details on these points. Readers are also referred to the Literature on career and personal development Facebook page for additional information on this topic. The process of conducting the thematic analysis is an exploratory as well as synthetic learning endeavour on the topic’s literature. Once the structure of the themes, sub-themes[1] and their associated points are finalized, the reviewer is in a position to move forward to step 2 of the MMBLR approach. The MMBLR approach step 2 finding, i.e., a companion mind map on career development, is presented in the next section.

Mind mapping-based literature review on development: step 2 (mind mapping) output

By adopting the findings from the MMBLR approach step 1 on career development, the writer constructs a companion mind map shown as Figure 1.

YMAZING Mind mapping the topic of career development

Referring to the mind map on career development, the topic label is shown right at the centre of the map as a large blob. Four main branches are attached to it, corresponding to the four themes identified in the thematic analysis. The links and ending nodes with key phrases represent the points from the thematic analysis. The key phrases have also been bolded in the quotations provided in the thematic analysis. As a whole, the mind map renders an image of the knowledge structure on career development based on the thematic analysis findings. Constructing the mind map is part of the learning process on literature review. The mind mapping process is speedy and entertaining. The resultant mind map also serves as a useful presentation and teaching material. This mind mapping experience confirms the writer’s previous experience using on the MMBLR approach (Ho, 2016). Readers are also referred to the Literature on literature review Facebook page and the Literature on mind mapping Facebook page for additional information on these two topics.

Concluding remarks

The MMBLR approach to study career development provided here is mainly for its practice illustration as its procedures have been refined via a number of its employment on an array of topics (Ho, 2016). No major additional MMBLR steps nor notions have been introduced in this article. In this respect, the exercise reported here primarily offers some pedagogical value as well as some systematic and stimulated learning on career development in the field of career and personal development. Nevertheless, the thematic findings and the image of the knowledge structure on career development in the form of a mind map should also be of academic value to those who research on this topic.

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2.Baruch, Y., N. Szücs and H. Gunz. 2015. “Career studies in search of theory: the rise and rise of concepts” Career Development International 20(1), Emerald: 3-20.

3. Bright, J.E.H. and R.G.L. Pryor. 2011. “The chaos theory of careers” Journal of employment counselling 48, December: 163-166.

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14. Literature on career and personal development Facebook page, maintained by Joseph, K.K. Ho (url address:

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24. Wang, Y.H., C. Hu, C.S. Hurst and C.C. Yang. 2014. “Antecedents and outcomes of career plateaus: The roles of mentoring others and proactive personality” Journal of Vocational Behavior 85. Elsevier: 319-328.

25. Zikic, J. and M. Franklin. 2010. “Enriching careers and lives: introducing a positive, holistic, and narrative career counselling method that bridges theory and practice” Journal of employment counselling 47, December: 180-189.