Gray Poehnell

CareerCraft is a new paradigm for a new career reality. This new reality, described by such terms as “chaos” and “positive uncertainty,” calls for new approaches which are more holistic, flexible, and creative. There is value in looking at career issues from the perspective of “craft”—the “art of career” more than just the “management of career.” Such an approach emphasizes the synergism of practicality, skill, and creativity, especially the need to assist clients to draw from their creative sides in order to engage, energize, and empower them as they “craft” their careers.


  • Implications of shifting career paradigm from that of “Management” to one of “Craft.”
    Such a shift would provide new perspectives, new associations and fresh creative tension and energy which will prove to be invaluable in the face of current career realities.
  • Increasing interest in creativity within the business world
    As the business world is addressing its changing world with an emphasis on creativity so to the career world could benefit from such a perspective.
  • The world of work is also fundamentally changing. This rapid change has been described as “chaotic” and demands a greater emphasis on holistic approaches that utilize creativity, flexibility, optimism, and imagination.

1. Characteristics of CareerCraft

It is possible to group the characteristics of craft under three broad categories: function, skill, and creativity.

a. Function

Craft is purposeful and practical; it combines creativity and beauty with the everyday practical things of life. So too in today’s evolving labour market, there certainly needs to be a synergism between creativity and practicality as people craft their careers.

b. Skill

Craft also suggests skill and workmanship; this involves learning to use the right materials, tools, and processes effectively to produce the desired product. So too, as people craft careers, they must bring together their materials (such as personal assets) with the appropriate tools (such as assessment tools, resumes, cover letters, etc.) for different career processes (such as self-assessment, career exploration, work search, etc.).

c. Creativity

Finally, a craft requires much more than the mastering of all the technical specifications of materials, tools, and processes. These must be combined in a creative process that produces a unique item of beauty and function. So to career calls for creativity and many related concepts (such as individuality and uniqueness, passion, being open to uncertainty, taking risks, being flexible, drawing on inner resources both spiritual and intuitive, etc.) as people create their unique career and lives.

2. Creativity and Career

CareerCraft focuses on three key ways in which creativity may enhance career.

a. Creativity helps people to engage in the entire career process.

This “active engagement” approach, as opposed to more passive approaches, is fundamentally holistic in nature. It calls for a balance of left and right brain; of mental, physical, spiritual, emotional aspects.

b. Creativity energizes people and their career development

When creative people are actively engaged, there is an intriguing paradox; there are the feelings of being very restful and relaxed yet very alive and energized by creative energy. There is an excitement that makes the entire process worthwhile no matter the challenges involved in making it happen. So too, as people are actively engaged in crafting careers, they can experience the excitement of solving problems and discovering new opportunities.

c. Creativity empowers people

Creativity empowers people by freeing then from mental blocks and habits and by opening up new connections, new perspectives, new possibilities, and, thereby, new choices.


Poehnell, G. & Amundson, N.E. (2002). CareerCraft: Engaging with, energizing, and empowering career creativity. In M. Peiperl, M. Arthur, & N. Anand (Eds), Career Creativity: Explorations in the remaking of work (pp. 105-122). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Copyright © 2002, Gray Poehnell
All rights reserved

Last modified 3/20/03