article, Evolution of Career Development by Wayne Pagani

The Evolution of Career Development for Executives and Senior Managers

Wayne Pagani, MCRS, MCIS, MCCS



What does your career development plan look like? Do you have one and does it include the latest in executive strategies?


It was not all that long ago that career development for executive level candidates and senior brass was rather conventional. Companies designed and incorporated a range of initiatives into their organizational development plans to motivate and retain their senior management team. The sudden impact of the economic downturn however, has changed all this. Organizations are spending less on developing their employees and the most effective leaders are becoming proactive in their own career development.


Today, when it comes to your career development, your foresight, innovation, and strategic planning is crucial. It is more imperative than ever that you access multiple resources to gain advancement opportunities. To gain an understanding of why this topic is so critical to your success, we’ll explore some historical developments in occupational theory.


History of the Field


In the mid-1800’s the YMCA was one of a very few organizations dedicating their time and effort to enhancing vocational development in North America. By the early nineteen hundreds, pioneers in the career development field recognized the need to consistently upgrade their methods and explore new perspectives.


Over the course of time, several visionary leaders influenced career and occupational practices. Frank Parsons, the father of career development, suggested that ideal career choices are based on matching personal traits with occupational factors to produce the best conditions for career success. Soon after, Abraham Maslow’s theory of human motivation, Eli Ginsberg’s developmental theory, and Anne Roe’s introduction to Personality Type theories all led the way to reshaping the landscape in career development.


Traditional Job Seeking


As new and innovative ideas helped to enhance the career experience for many, others remained in the dark. The industrial revolution created job security and an abundance of jobs and few invested in long-term career development. This meant that very little work needed to be done to leverage future opportunities. Résumés were sometimes only a formality in the recruitment process.


Little to no planning went into developing relationships with potential employers or business associates. Yet, the same executives dedicated a tremendous amount of effort in due diligence when it came to buying a home or a car. We took other relationships slowly making sure that they were the right fit before committing ourselves. Our careers on the other hand, continued to receive fair-weather treatment at best.


The world continues to change and so too does the way that we conduct business, direct recruitment, and seek candidates for critical roles in our organizations. Over time, executives have learned that successful career transition involves laying down a solid foundation with a definite action plan. This starts with a thorough self-assessment leading to a clear understanding of their values, skills, and qualifications. Then, before engaging the market, they have come to see the merit in identifying who in that market is an appropriate target.


Parallel Principles


In fact, many of the principles active in effective business have become the staples for effective career transition strategies. For example, Branding and Value Proposition are applications used to market a business, product, or service. These are now commonly used on a personal level. A powerful career brand can help to establish recognition. While living up to that brand contributes to one’s reputation as a leader, expert, or specialist in their field.


Sometimes old principles in new packages can lead to extremely powerful tools in business and in career development. Today the social media and online tools at our disposal provide an opportunity to conduct the research, identify the opportunities, and direct our brand and value proposition. You can even create your own electronic résumé and add an array of materials to bolster it with documents, graphics, video, and audio. Used strategically and integrated into a sound career plan, these tools can expedite the path to achieve one’s career and business objectives.


Some are adapting early and easily too this latest trend. Others, particularly those who are technically or internet challenged, are not so ready and have found much of the hype a bit confusing. Just as we have with so many innovations in the past, our modern technology is not always embraced. Some even question the effectiveness or impact of these tools.


Old Lessons in New Disguises


I can still remember when mobile phones first came to market over 25 years ago. In 1983, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X received approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and become the world's first commercial handheld cellular phone. At the time, they were considered to be the most innovative pieces of equipment in communications. Not since people like Alexander Graham Bell, Marchese Guglielmo Marconi and others introduced us to alternative methods of communication had we seen such innovation.


Still, many initially scoffed at the idea of using these cumbersome phones. Sometimes new ways and products can be intimidating. The number of mobile cellular subscribers worldwide is estimated to have reached the 4 billion mark at the end of 2008, according to the head of the United Nations International. While more that ten percent of Americans no longer have home phone lines and use their cell phones as a primary device. Despite health concerns and some resistance, these new pieces of equipment have facilitated how we communicate. All that changed was the medium.


So, before discounting new methodology in career planning and the advent of the latest tools in modern technology, learn to adapt and integrate these into your career development strategy. The evolution of best career development practices for executives and senior managers suggest that social media is no longer an option but an absolute critical piece of the career transition process. Engage a professional coach to help build your career transition foundation, research the possible online alternatives, develop your online presence, and watch your career and business opportunities soar to new heights.

Today’s alternatives include an array of social media and online tools to compliment a strategic approach.



Wayne Pagani is known for connecting people with people, resources, and opportunities. He is an award-winning, master certified resume, interview, and career strategist. Wayne assists executives, managers, and six-figure professionals. You can contact Wayne and find further information and articles directly at