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Schein's Career Anchors


Explanations > Values > Career Anchors


Edgar Schein at MIT has identified eight themes and has shown that people will have prioritized preferences for these. For example a person with a primary theme of Security/Stability will seek secure and stable employment over, say, employment that is challenging and riskier. People tend to stay anchored in one area and their career will echo this in many ways. 

Technical/Functional competence

This kind of person likes being good at something and will work to become a guru or expert. They like to be challenged and then use their skill to meet the challenge, doing the job properly and better than almost anyone else.

General Managerial competence

Unlike technical/functional people, these folks want to be managers (and not just to get more money, although this may be used as a metric of success). They like problem-solving and dealing with other people. They thrive on responsibility. To be successful, they also need emotional competence.  


These people have a primary need to work under their own rules and steam. They avoid standards and prefer to work alone.   


Security-focused people seek stability and continuity as a primary factor of their lives. They avoid risks and are generally 'lifers' in their job.

Entrepreneurial Creativity

These folks like to invent things, be creative and, most of all, to run their own businesses. They differ from those who seek autonomy in that they will share the workload. They find ownership very important. They easily get bored. Wealth, for them, is a sign of success.

Service/Dedication to a cause

Service-oriented people are driven by how they can help other people more than using their talents (which may fall in other areas). They may well work in public services or in such as HR.

Pure Challenge

People driven by challenge seek constant stimulation and difficult problems that they can tackle. Such people will change jobs when the current one gets boring and their career can be very varied. 


Those who are focused first on lifestyle look at their whole pattern of living. They not so much balance work and life as integrate it. They may even take long periods off work in which to indulge in passions such as sailing or traveling.

So what?

So find the other person's  career anchor and priorities and then pitch your persuasion in the right direction.

See also


Schein, Edgar H, (1990). Career Anchors (discovering your real values), Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer, San Francisco

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