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8 Major Career Anchors and Their Significance for Successful Career Transitions

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

Career anchors dictate how motivated and engaged you feel at work. You will feel more fulfilled in a career aligned to your career anchor.

Career Anchors In Choosing Your Career by Personal Empowerment Life Coach Smita D Jain

Every one of us has a particular orientation towards career and success, and we all approach our work with a set of priorities and principles. Edgar Schein, one of the founders in the field of modern organisational psychology, named this phenomenon ‘Career Anchors’. These anchors enable people to recognise their preferences for certain areas in their jobs and their majors which helps in career selection and planning.

This ‘Career Anchors’ framework hypothesizes that an individual’s career inclinations adhere to eight specific categories. The attributes of anchors significantly dictate how you perform at work and get ahead in your career and success. If you want to avoid anxiety and lack of job satisfaction, seek such professional roles while choosing your career that complements your core values.

8 Fundamental Career Anchors to Look Upon For A Fulfilling Career

Each of us has specific parameters that we’re looking for in our careers. You tend to pick better choices while choosing jobs and their majors by understanding career anchors. Along with anchors you can also look for these Powerful Steps To Help You Build A Career You Love.

As you determine what your underlying career anchors are, you will be able to make more informed and better long-term decisions at key points in your careers. Let us elaborate on the various parameters or 8 major career anchors below. You’ll then gain valuable insights on how to approach while choosing your career with a promising future.

1. Technical/Functional Competence:

Aspirants anchored in technical or functional competence are quite knowledgeable in certain skill(s). They tend to identify and establish themselves with their expertise very strongly and seldom prefer a generalist position. They like to accomplish challenges by doing the job efficiently and a lot better than the others.

2. Managerial Competence:

People with high managerial competence want to manage and lead others. They prefer taking the ladder to higher levels of responsibility whenever an apt opportunity appears. They seek more senior roles where they can have a broader responsibility and more generalist but less technical accountabilities at the same time.

3. Security/Stability:

Aspirants with a primary need for security and stability prefer to choose secure and stable career choices over challenging and riskier ones. They value security over the longevity of their professional life, salary and associated benefits. To avoid risk in their careers they may turn down risky promotions for certainty in a current professional role.

4. Autonomy/Independence:

Aspirants anchored by this competence have a primary urge to work according to their own rules and procedure. They like having control over how they work and value freedom. They would not leave any opportunity to define their work in their own way and may turn down promotion or advancement in order to maintain autonomy.

5. Service/Dedication:

Service-anchored people are motivated to dedicate their work or in service of others. They tend to work in roles, in which they get opportunities to serve others directly. Since they derive fulfilment from helping others, they like to work in charitable, public sector organizations, or seek roles that fulfil their values such as Human Resources.

6. Pure Challenge:

Aspirants driven by challenge often seek tough problems to accomplish. They look for opportunities having seemingly unsolvable problems, tough opponents, or difficult obstacles. Since they seek the stimulation that comes with difficult challenges, they tend to get bored easily with regular career choices and so they may have varied careers.

7. Lifestyle:

Life-style-anchored people are primarily interested in ensuring a life balanced with various interests. They follow the principle of ‘work to live’ instead of ‘live to work’. They define career and success in terms broader than achievements, which may include family, friends, hobbies, recreational and leisure activities, and better scope of learning.

8. Entrepreneurial Creativity:

Aspirants with entrepreneurial creativity prefer to grab the opportunity to create an organisation or enterprise of their own, built on their own abilities while driven by a strong desire to get personal gain and recognition for their own accomplishment. Being anchored for creativity, such individuals have the motivation and courage to run the risk of overcoming all the obstacles to become financially successful.

How To Find Your Career Anchor

The thought of a career change may feel confusing and scary for a while but it offers an amazing chance to make a change for the better, in terms of income, location, lifestyle, learning or training. So, if you are having trouble whenever start to think about career changing, here are some tips for determining your career anchors:

1. Find the things that you really enjoy doing.

2. Determine the achievements that would add value to life.

3. Seek feedback from your well-wishers about what you're good at.

4. Research the feasible options you have regarding job/career change.

5. Put a plan in place to do it!

Identifying your career anchor is a great step in the direction of knowing about the things you need to work on that will guide you choose jobs and their majors and achieve career success. Suppose you find your managerial competence or any other one from the above-mentioned eight competencies good enough to be your career anchor, rewrite your resume to align with it, and engage in apt interviews to land the perfect job.

How To Use Your Career Anchor for A Job or Career Change

The insights you gain while determining your career anchors will help you see why some of your job positions have been encouraging and full of growth while others were hindering your progress. With this understanding, you will find it easier to make firm decisions in regard to your job or career change.

When you are looking for personal development opportunities, what is important to you is making appropriate decisions and when it is time for a change. Your career anchor enables you to identify and answer this exact question as it pertains to what is crucial to you in your workplace. This knowledge regarding career anchors helps you fully realise your career potential.

Are you in the right job? Take the Free ‘Are You in The Right Career Assessment’ to identify whether you are in the right job and discover what type of jobs you will excel at. The results of this test will be your guide towards a successful career change.

Smita D Jain is a Certified Life Coach, Executive Coach and NLP Practitioner. Smita’s ‘Empower Yourself’ Personal Clarity Coaching Programs enable busy professionals unhappy in their jobs to tap into their passions and transform them into professions so that they work because they want to, not because they have to.

Before her journey as a coach, Smita had extensive experience of 14 years as a corporate and business strategy professional with Fortune 500 companies. She is also a speaker at various public forums, a published writer, and an Amazon bestselling author.

You can learn more about Personal Empowerment Life Coach and Executive Coach Smita D Jain’s ‘Empower Yourself’ Coaching Programs by visiting and book a complimentary strategy session at

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