Career adaptability in emerging adults: A foundation of personal growth
Ashton, Matthew W.
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There is concern about the preparedness of college students, who are transitioning from adolescence to adulthood, to effectively deal with the challenges of the world of work (Lent & Worthington, 1999). It is important for these emerging adults to develop the attitudes and skills that will lead to successful management of their future careers. Savickas (1997) outlined the necessity of developing the transferable skills of career adaptability: planfulness, exploration, and decision making. Personal growth initiative (PGI; Robitschek, 1998; Robitschek et al., 2009) is a global inclination to improve one’s self that was hypothesized to have significant relationships with these important skills in college student development. This study tested a model of moderated mediation in which the direct relationships between PGI and the dimensions of career adaptability are mediated by the perception of growth opportunities in one’s career which is also moderated by the salience of the worker role such that the more committed to work a person is the more the process dimensions of career adaptability will be evident. Gender differences in these relationships were also tested. A series of regression analyses found significant direct effects of PGI predicting all three dimensions of career adaptability for both men and women, as well as predicting greater levels of perception of growth opportunities within one’s career. No direct mediating relationships through perception of growth opportunities were significant. In contrast, moderated mediation effects were significant when predicting planfulness and exploration for men and exploration for women, such that the relationship of greater levels of perception of growth opportunities predicting greater levels of planfulness and exploration was enhanced by high levels of work role salience. Additional regression analyses revealed gender differences in (a) PGI predicting exploration, and (b) the moderated mediation effects of perception of growth opportunities and work role salience predicting planfulness and exploration. These differences revealed enhanced relationships for women compared to men. Results give evidence for an important connection between personal growth processes and career adaptability and greater understanding of career development processes for emerging adults in college.