Communication and Voluntary Downward Career Changes

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Abstract:

Downward career changes are challenging in societies which place a premium on the accumulation of material wealth and discourage risk-taking, such as Singapore. To better understand how individuals manage their identities during such changes, 30 individuals who had completed a voluntary downward career change were interviewed. Results suggest three phases of communication during this process: (1) Decision making, in which individuals communicate to gather information about the change and seek support for it; (2) Announcement, in which they strategically time, frame, and deliver the message to maximize acceptance of the change; and (3) New career, in which they reframe, refocus, and recalibrate to increase their social identity. The findings suggest strategies individuals may use to effectively manage their social identities as they change careers and suggest strategies organizations may use for recruiting individuals into socially less-prestigious occupations.

Keywords: Career Change; Downward Career Change; Voluntary Career Change

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00909882.2011.634429

Publication date: February 1, 2012

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