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Stevens’ Model of Career Development


Paul Stevens approached us at Contact Point to provide feedback on the SUPER SERIES (Vol. 7 No. 1). Contact Point encourages all Bulletin readers to comment on the articles presented and submit their contributions. See back page for details.


by Paul Stevens

It is inevitable that, as time passes, researchers or practitioners in career and worklife counselling evolve new theories and models or refine those already well known. The Stevens’ Model of Career Development is one of them. I devised an early version of the model in 1981 and since that date, considerable refinements and extensions have been made.

The model is a formula for taking people through the whole journey of self–exploration and evaluation of their career options and on through to the successful implementation of their choice, given their employment environment or labour market opportunities and restrictions.

This model has an essentially practical approach which incorporates most of the aspects of a person’s work and way of life in their career and transition making.

The Stevens’ Model illustrated in Figure 1 shows the sequence in which a person should proceed to resolve worklife direction problems. The model has six stages and within each stage there are specified activities. The activities the individual undertakes can be with or without the support of a career counsellor, coach or mentor. It is necessary to proceed through each of these discrete stages in the sequence described. To change this sequence could jeopardise the validity, sustainability and qualitative success of the outcomes.

Figure 1 — The Stevens’ Model of Career Development

Stage One: Self–Assessment
Clarify issues and concerns — Assemble an information base through structured analysis — Review current job effectiveness — Check employment experiences — Abilities — Interests — Values — Primary wants — Employment environment preferences — Lifestyle considerations

Stage Two: Interpreting Data
Analysis — Transferable skills identification — Career requirements developed — Resolve ambiguities — Lifestyle integration — Monetary needs and considerations — Barriers to success — Identify perceived and real constraints

Stage Three: Opportunity Awareness
Collect information — Research — Organisation information gathering — Reality testing — Cultivate a network — Mentoring — Evaluate results — Select career action(s) options

Stage Four: Decision Learning
Evaluate career action options — Trade–offs — Decide on goals — Prepare Career Action Step Statement

Stage Five: Transition Training
Schedule career transition actions — Rehearse for negotiations — Develop strategies for success — Check career action preparation — Prepare requests for approval — Audit career transition progress

Stage Six: Transition Accomplished
Review of completed career action steps — Assessment of well–being

The Stevens’ Model of Career Development is essentially a client development concept leading to career self–resiliency, not a matching process. Users are not led to a list of occupations on which to base their career action decisions. They are led to initiate career exploration (Opportunity Awareness) using the conclusions from their self–assessment phase and then apply detective, communication and research skills to identify appropriate job role(s). The Model requires the user to be self–sufficient, but does not preclude the need for—in fact, encourages—talking to and being helped by others during the self–search problem–solving and decision–making journey.

Career assessment instruments for self–assessment by the client and structured self–search designs have been developed for each stage of the model.

The use of the model proceeds more comfortably by using a structured framework into which lots of data can be fitted by the client and viewed from different perspectives by both the client and the skilled helper—the career counsellor, coach or mentor.

The Stevens’ Model helps each person to find the answer at each stage to the profound questions illustrated in Figure 2.

Figure 2 — Stevens’ Model of Career Development

Stage One: Searching Self / Analysing My Situation

  • What is my current level of satisfaction at work?
  • What broader life needs do I seek?
  • What are my motivating skills, interests and values?
  • What do I want in my worklife role?
  • What new learning do I want?
  • Which working environments am I most suited to?
  • What techniques can I use to help me identify where I want to go with my worklife?

Stage Two: Interpreting Data

  • How do I consolidate all my self–assessment information?
  • Have I listed my work role and work environment preferences and my reasons for them?
  • How do I use my self–assessment data to develop options?
  • Do these options seem compatible with my lifestyle needs?
  • What barriers / constraints do I have at this point?

Stage Three: Exploring Opportunities

  • What worklife options are available to me?
  • How can I learn more about these options?
  • Who can I ask for a reality check on my options?
  • How can I test the reality of my worklife options?

Stage Four: Making My Decision

  • How do I decide between my researched worklife options?
  • What techniques can I use to assist me in making my decision?
  • Who will listen to me and assist me with my decision making?

Stage Five: Planning My Career Action Step

  • Have I planned what I need to do now? And later on?
  • What support is available to assist me in making it happen?
  • How do I market myself?
  • What should I put in my portfolio, résumé or proposal?
  • Do my interviewing and negotiation skills need improving?

Stage Six: Auditing My Worklife Renewal

  • Have my expectations been met?
  • What are the results and benefits for me?
  • What can I do to retain the benefits?
  • What have I learned from this transition process?

The Stevens’ Model is now widely used to assist adults in personal review situations across Australia and New Zealand. It is also the foundation for pathfinding help to people in Nordic countries, Ireland, Singapore and South Africa. Career counsellors are using it for people in such diverse needs as: orders of religious women (nuns); military to civilian career changers; redundant personnel (outplacement); work injured (rehabilitation); women returning to the workforce; ‘hard–core’ unemployed; athletes terminating their sporting careers; those who have to or want to redeploy where they work; employers wanting a career self–reliant workforce; migrants needing new directions; the midlife confused; third–age transition makers; academe in their training of career counsellors; post–retirement personal fulfilment seekers.

The journey to career self–reliance the client traverses can be described as a crescendo effect—in the early stages they grapple with the myriad of factors which affect their decision making, then break through to enhanced self–understanding to arrive at a point of firm resolution and commitment to thoroughly considered action (see Figure 3). The self–knowledge and information gained from the process guided by the six stages within the Model increase the client’s self–confidence. This serves as a motivating force for overcoming constraints or previously perceived barriers and implementing resolutions.

Figure 3 — The Crescendo Effect













Skilled helpers have reported that they find it very useful to have details of the model in their counselling location for illustration to clients or workshop participants. Posters of the Stevens’ Model of Career Development can be sourced from as well as the list of related career assessment instruments.

Paul Stevens founded The Centre for Worklife Counselling in Sydney Australia in 1979 and in 2004 the College for Career Practitioners Author of more than 40 career books and instruments. He can be reached through email at


Tiblets Araya

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