Table 1 Edgar Schein’s career anchors

From: Career orientation of secondary school students (m/f) in the Netherlands

1. Technical/functional competence (We use the term functional anchor instead of technical-functional anchor in order to prevent the unintended association with technical professions).
These people discover during their career that they are very talented and highly motivated for a certain type of job. Pursuing their talents and the satisfaction they derive from the knowledge of being professionals gives them ‘a real kick’. Their competence may focus on any work environment and, consequently, does not have to be technical.
2. Managerial competence
These people prefer to become general managers rather than specialising in a certain functional field. They aspire to obtain a high status in the hierarchy within the organisation and are driven by the possibilities of additional responsibilities and contributions to the success of the organisation and for a high salary.
3. Autonomy/independence
People who have ‘autonomy’ as their career anchor cannot stand to be restricted by the rules of other people, procedures, working hours, clothing regulations and other standards of an organisation. They want to do things their own way, at their own pace and according their own standards.
4. Security/stability
These people are more engaged in the contents of the job than in the nature of the job itself. They want to feel safe and secure and often look for a job within an organisation that offers a permanent contract, has a reputation of avoiding dismissals, offers proper pension provisions and secondary elements of remuneration, and is known to be strong and reliable.
5. Service/dedication
Some people choose a certain profession in order to achieve certain ideals. They are more focussed upon ideals such as serving humanity, helping a country or improving the environment than on actual talents or fields of competence.
6. Pure challenge
These people find pleasure in their jobs through accepting and meeting challenges. They are competitive and ambitious to a very high degree and do not concentrate on a single functional skill, but constantly seek variation and new challenges. Just like ‘fighters’ they look for confrontation with the ‘enemy’ and seek to prove their own superiority.
7. Lifestyle
Lifestyle people feel that it is important to combine their individual needs with their family and career. They would rather look for an organisation with a flexible attitude that for a specific programme.
8. Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurs want to create a new company of which they are the owner by developing new products or services or to build up an organisation according to their own specifications. They have a creative urge which is linked to their own efforts and can survive on their own. They desire to be economically successful.
9. Identity
Although Schein has not included the value of identity as a separate value, this career anchor in particular appears to be of concern to students. In our study, students who seemed to be mainly motivated by the status of a profession, such as a pop star, stewardess or astronaut, fall within this value. We also include students who seem to be motivated by the ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ image of a profession.
  1. Source: (Schein 1975, 1985, 1987)