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career research blog

The latest career research insights to grow your career

Filtering by Tag: career success

The 13 key factors that predict career success

Andreas Hirschi

Based on a review of the scientific literature on determinants of career success, our research team has identified 13 factors that are repeatedly confirmed as essential to achieve success. We call these factors "career resources" and they represent the four key areas of (1) Knowledge and Skills; (2) Motivation; (3) Environment; and (4) Activities. In a multi-step procedure, we have developed and validated a self-assessment that gives a person's individual career resources profile. This profile gives insights into the personal areas of strengths and weaknesses that can promote or inhibit career success.

We are excited to announce that you can now take the Career Resources Questionnaire for free and instantly obtain your own career resources profile on our website. Check it out!

For more information visit our website or watch our brief introduction video.

Discover you career resources at

Hirschi, A., Nagy, N., Baumeler, F., Johnston, C. S., & Spurk, D. (in press). Assessing Key Predictors of Career Success: Development and Validation of the Career Resources Questionnaire. Journal of Career Assessment. doi: 10.1177/1069072717695584



Emotional intelligence as career resource

Noemi Nagy

Emotional intelligence seems to play an important role in the career progress of young people, as the findings of a recent study from Italy show. The researchers explored the career development of Italian high school students and found that those students with high teacher support and high levels of emotional intelligence were more resilient and felt more employable than their fellow students.

Di Fabio, A., & Kenny, M. E. (2015). The contributions of emotional intelligence and social support for adaptive career progress among Italian youth. Journal of Career Development42(1), 48-59.

Nonwork orientations are related to higher career and life satisfaction

Andreas Hirschi

When planning a career, many people take nonwork orientations into account, such as family, personal interests and civic engagement. Our team has conducted a study among over 500 employees in German and found that people who strongly consider the role of the family in career planning report more satisfaction with their career and their lives in general. Surprisingly, nonwork orientations also showed no negative effects on earnings.

Read the full media release at the University of Bern Media Relations Website

Hirschi, A., Herrmann, A., Nagy, N., & Spurk, D. (2016). All in the name of work? Nonwork orientations as predictors of salary, career satisfaction, and life satisfaction. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 95–96, 45-57,

How to overcome gender stereotype threat?

Anja Ghetta

Working as a woman in a male-dominated field can lead to stress due to gender stereotype threat and can thereby hinder success and participation at work. A Canadian study offers two promising interventions based on listening to quotes regarding social belonging and affirmation. The interventions eliminated grade point average differences between men and women, and resulted in a higher confidence of women in their abilities to cope with stressors as well as a more optimistic attitude regarding future success.


Walton, G. M., Logel, C., Peach, J. M., Spencer, S. J., & Zanna, M. P. (2015). Two Brief Interventions to Mitigate a "Chilly Climate" Transform Women's Experience, Relationships, and Achievement in Engineering. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107(2), 468-485, doi:10.1037/a0037461.

Failure can enhance career success

Andreas Hirschi

There are a numerous anecdotal examples of how a failure can lead the way to longer term career success. As illustrated in a nice infograph on, this list of people includes illustrious names such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Michael Jordan.

In a scientific study with US graduates, researchers found that those who experienced an unexpected positive career event that helped to achieve their career goals (e.g., got an unexpected promotion) were less likely to attend graduate school. On the other hand, those who experienced a negative career event  (e.g., did not get an expected promotion) were more likely to return to university to get an advanced degree. Although that study did not investigate this, maybe the early disappointment will be the foundation for success in the future that the more "lucky" colleagues will be missing.

Seibert, S. E., Kraimer, M. L., Holtom, B. C., & Pierotti, A. J. (2013). Even the best laid plans sometimes go askew: Career self-management processes, career shocks, and the decision to pursue graduate education. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98(1), 169-182.


Gender discrimination can lead to career dissatisfaction in high aspiring women

Anja Ghetta

Subjective career success means how satisfied you are with your whole work achievements. This evaluation is related to several important organizational outcomes like retention or performance. According to a French study, perceived gender discrimination is linked to lower subjective career success for women. Satisfaction is especially low when faced with gender discrimination if women strive for a management position, value technical specialization, place high importance on work-life-balance, or have a low need for employment security or autonomy.

Relations Industrielles / Industrial Relations

What does it mean to be successful in your career?

Andreas Hirschi

Subjective career success pertains to the personal meaning of success in one's career. Based on interviews and statistical analyses of questionnaires the authors of a recent study identified that people commonly state eight different dimensions that constitute subjective career success: having a sense of authenticity in one's work, experiencing growth and development in one' career, exerting influence on others and the organization, doing meaningful work, having a personal life besides one's career, doing high quality work, getting recognition for one's work, and being overall satisfied with one's career in general. The study also showed that these aspects of career success are positively related to overall life satisfaction. In sum, the study shows that career success entails many aspects and is important for overall well-being. 

Journal of Organizational Behavior

A successful career needs a successful start

Daniel Spurk

Graduate students should be aware of the fact that underemployment after graduation has relevant consequences for their future career. Temporary employment or being overqualified in the first job after graduation affects future pay negatively. In addition, having a job that does not fit to the study subject has a negative impact on job satisfaction five years later. In summary, it is important to make careful and well-thought first career choices.

Journal of Vocational Behavior

Organizations have to make senior management positions less “male”

Noemi Nagy

Women's career aspirations are affected by their perceived congruence with senior management positions and by their perceived opportunity to reach senior management, as a US study revealed. Organizations should therefore assure that senior management roles are not predominantly associated with masculine characteristics and should evaluate their promotion systems to eliminate such psychological barriers to women's advancement into senior management.

Sharabi, M. (2015). Life domain preferences among women and men in Israel: The effects of socio-economic variables. International Labour Review, 154. 519–536.

The downsides of early career success: Positive career shocks and career satisfaction impede further occupational education

Daniel Spurk

Positive career shocks such as a quick raise or promotion in early career stages reduce the participation in further graduate education, according to a study with alumni of two universities in the U.S. High career satisfaction, especially for employees with high extrinsic career goals, was also detrimental for the decision to take up further occupational education. In contrast, employees with high intrinsic career goals and who were engaged in career planning applied more often to a graduate education program. Organizations should thus be aware of potential long-term human capital loss in case of highly extrinsically motivated employees who receive too much rewards immediately after job entry. Providing secure and upward-oriented career paths also in case of education drop-out could resolve this problem.

Journal of Applied Psychology