Making career decisions is among the most significant
events in people’s lives, with long-lasting implications.
Making career decisions, however, presents complex
challenges that many individuals find difficult to
accomplish by themselves (Osipow, 1999; Rounds
& Tinsley, 1984; Tinsley, 1992). As a result, many
individuals seek help in dealing with such decisions
(Di Fabio & Bernaud, 2008; Fouad et al., 2006).
Indeed, many individuals approach professional
career counselors or consult with nonprofessional
significant others (e.g., parents, friends) with the
hope of choosing the option that will lead to the
most desirable outcomes. In addition to career information, self-help tools have increasingly flourished
on the Internet in the past decade. Considering the
broad range of actions that individuals may take in
their endeavors to reach a career decision, researchers and practitioners should investigate which of
these strategies are indeed effective in facilitating
career decision making.
A prerequisite for facilitating individuals’ decision making and helping them reach better career
decisions is understanding the intricate process of
career decision making. This complexity and the
difficulties in making career decisions stem from
numerous sources (cf. Gati & Tal, 2008). First,
there are a variety of factors to consider. Second, the
quantity of information is typically massive: The
number of alternatives increases daily, and the
available information about each career alternative is
often overwhelming. Third, the quality of the information is often questionable—it is frequently inaccurate and often biased. Fourth, uncertainty is
involved in both individuals’ future preferences and
their future career options. Thus, individuals plan
their career paths not only on the basis of what they
currently know but also on their speculations about
the future. Fifth, emotional and personality-related
factors often impede decision making (Saka, Gati, &
Kelly, 2008). Sixth, many decisions require the
need to compromise (e.g., Gati, 1993; Gottfredson,
1981). Seventh, it is often necessary to deal with
social barriers, whether perceived or actual (Cejka
& Eagly, 1999). Finally, most career decisions have
important psychological and financial implications.
These features of career decisions, combined with
individuals’ frequent lack of knowledge about the
stages and steps involved in the decision-making
process (Amir & Gati, 2006), contribute to recognizing the need for help.
Initial theoretical attempts to conceptualize the
career counselor’s work as helping in decision
making were made 50 years ago (Gelatt, 1962;
Hilton, 1962; Kaldor & Zytowski, 1969; Katz, 1966;
Tiedeman & O’Hara, 1963).