When it comes to your career, what’s right for you? Find your anchor!

Career anchors can help you to figure out what’s most important to you in a career.

Rather than focusing on a particular sector or industry, career anchors encourage you to think about what you value in a job or workplace and where your skills lie.

The concept of career anchors was developed by psychologist Edgar Schein who laid out eight distinct career anchors …

1. Technical/Functional 

This anchor is for those who are motivated by being highly skilled or an expert in their field. You might seek out speciality work or challenging environments where you can showcase your expertise.  

Graduate roles which may suit you include any role where you can develop your skills and specialise in your chosen field.

Academic research offers the opportunity to develop your expertise in your chosen subject. Alternatively, developing sectors such as machine learning engineering, or creative specialisms such as dance both require a high level of skill.

2. General Managerial 

If you enjoy training, problem solving and leading or managing others then you may find the General Managerial anchor is the one for you.

Potential graduate roles for this anchor may include all kinds of management roles such as project manager, social media manager, and theatre manager positions, which allow you to take on responsibility, collaborate with others, and delegate tasks effectively. 

3. Autonomy/Independence 

The autonomy/independence anchor is for people who prefer to be in control of their work and be left to work independently from others. You might enjoy being set a task or set of guidelines and allowed to work individually to meet your goals. 

Graduate roles are often found in consultancy or contract work for this anchor. Examples include management consultancy and even artistic careers based on contract or commission work such as illustration

4. Security/Stability 

Do you prioritise a career which offers calm, reliable stability? This anchor is for those who aren’t interested in riskier career options and are fulfilled by roles which offer security. What the job is might matter less to you than a reliable work environment and financial stability. 

Potential graduate roles for this anchor may be found in stable industries with clear career progression, for example civil service administration or local government. 

5. Entrepreneurial Creativity 

This anchor is suited to those who are creative and inventive. You enjoy pursuing your goals, whether that be starting your own business or leading new projects for an organisation. People with this anchor tend to prefer a more dynamic and creative work environment and enjoy collaboration with others to ultimately see their goals come to fruition. 

A hand touching a lightbulb made of shards of glass

Graduate roles can vary greatly for this anchor. You might find yourself setting up your own business or even pursuing roles which offer creative freedom such as graphic design or fashion design

6. Service/Dedication to a cause 

People who identify with this anchor often have a desire to help others, and seek out work which reflects this. If the purpose of your work is more important to you than the day-to-day work itself this could work for you. 

Potential graduate roles may include charity work or social care. For example, careers in charity work, counselling, and nursing

7. Pure Challenge 

The pure challenge anchor is for the competitive amongst us. People with this anchor love problem solving and require constant change, often having multiple careers in their lifetime. You might prefer a competitive work atmosphere which thrives on rewarding individual effort. 

There are competitive graduate roles in sectors such as corporate investment banking or highly competitive creative industries, such as film and media. 

8. Lifestyle 

“Work to live” rather than “live to work”. If this sounds like you than the lifestyle anchor might be yours. This anchor prioritises the ability to balance work alongside other aspects of life such as family, travel, and hobbies.

Potential graduate roles for this anchor are often in high turnover sectors or have the flexibility to allow you to choose your work hours. Sectors such as retail or hospitality may work for you or even a role in office management

There has also been some momentum for the four-day work week in a growing number of companies, with South Cambridgeshire Council being one of the first UK Councils to extend their four-day week trial! 

So how can career anchors help you?  

  • Think about the eight anchors and which most closely resembles your values? 
  • Think about what motivates you and what kind of working environment would suit you best? 
  • Think about which anchor is the dominant one for you? You may find that multiple anchors resonate so it’s up to you to use your judgement about what’s most important to you.  

Once you’ve figured out your anchor check out our resources to help you figure out the next steps on your career journey. You can discuss how this will impact your career path with a member of the Careers Service so feel free to get in touch