Positioning career identity construction: identity work and identity status models

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To date, little has been done to illuminate the process of identity content construction, how individuals use exploration to construct career-identities, or how identity construction processes function at both the personal and social level. In response, the purpose of this paper is to explore the theoretical contribution of recent research carried out by the author into the nature of career-identity and its construction. Firstly, a grounded theory study of 36 Generation Y graduates from U.K. and Irish universities resulted in the development of two models: a Cycle of Individual Career-Identity Construction (CICIC); and a Conceptual Model of Individual Career-Identity. These models demonstrate that Generation Y graduates have fluid rather than stable career-identities, that they put emphasis on personal over social identity, and that they construct and reconstruct their individual career-identities over time, primarily through sense-making processes as opposed to identification processes. Secondly, this paper makes a further theoretical contribution by attempting to locate the CICIC within extant literature, while integrating concepts from pragmatism, identity work, sense-making, and identity status models to advance our understanding of career-identity construction as a process. Practical implications include a review of retention strategies and career counselling interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBritish Academy of Management 2019 Conference Proceedings
Subtitle of host publicationAston University Birmingham, UK
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sep 2019
EventBritish Academy of Management 2019 Conference - Aston University , Birmingham , United Kingdom
Duration: 3 Sep 20195 Sep 2019


ConferenceBritish Academy of Management 2019 Conference
Abbreviated titleBAM
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • career identity, Generation Y, graduate careers, sense making, identity work, identity status models


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