A Narrative Career Management Program that Increases Hope, Optimism, Confidence, Resilience: Outcome Study

By Mark Franklin

An outcome study of individuals in “career pain” who went through the CareerCycles narrative method of practice has shown that participants experienced statistically significant increases in six key measures: hope, optimism, confidence, resilience, curiosity and exploration, and personal growth.


Jobs and employment are among the most important current issues facing governments and societies around the world, but the question of how to align individuals and their strengths with opportunities in the world of work remains without a widely accepted, evidence-based approach. CareerCycles is a career management social enterprise based in Toronto with thousands of clients across North America and hundreds of testimonials over the past 10 years. We knew that a narrative, or story-based, approach to career management works. It’s important to have the evidence, and now we have it.


“These exciting outcome results move CareerCycles into the realm of evidence-based practice for career management,” said Basak Yanar, PhD, lead researcher on the study. Most career centers and employment agencies measure program results with job placement rates and program attendance figures, but these measures fail to indicate sustainable changes in individuals’ careers. Tracking whether someone ‘got the job’ says nothing about the alignment between the job and the individual’s strengths, interests and life situation, nor does it say anything about that individual’s ability to manage their career for the future when and if he or she leaves that first job.


These problems led us to design a study to explore the effect of psychological variables such as hope and confidence. We found that both of our hypotheses were correct – first, that a narrative approach to career management would have a positive impact on individuals’ personal attributes including hope, confidence, resilience, optimism and personal growth; and second, that these key personal attributes would be correlated with important career measures including career clarity, job satisfaction, job fit, and alignment between job and career expectations.


In the CareerCycles program, subjects gained career clarity and learned how to navigate the world of work based on a “Career Statement” that names their strengths, desires, personal qualities, assets, natural interests, influences of other people, and career possibilities emerging from their own stories. Subjects said that this process resulted in them not only feeling more hopeful and optimistic, but also increased their career curiosity and exploration. Correlations of these findings with career clarity, job satisfaction, job-person fit, and employment status suggest this approach leads to sustainable and positive employment and career outcomes.


The outcome study collected data from 68 past clients, 72% female, 28% male, who experienced on average five sessions with a Career Professional from among CareerCycles’ team of associates, all of whom used our narrative method of practice. After completing the CareerCycles Program, subjects were asked to compare the extent to which they think, feel, and behave before and after the program. “Psychological Capital Questionnaire” was used to measure hope, optimism, resilience and self-efficacy (confidence), and the two other measures used were “Curiosity and Exploration Inventory” and “Personal Growth Initiative Scale.”


Practice Tip

The CareerCycles narrative method of practice features 45+ interventions to guide your practice, each one documented with, 1) When to Use, 2) Expected Outcome, 3) Career Professional Actions, 4) Resources. One intervention is called “Initial Desires Clarification,” and it guides you to listen to your clients’ stories with a greater understanding to help clients arrive at a new level of awareness, reframing dissatisfaction into career and life desires.


Try “Initial Desires Clarification” with your clients!

When to use: Typically used in the first part of first session, but it can be used whenever a client talks about a real-world experience that was particularly positive or negative. This intervention is especially useful, even as a ‘micro-intervention’ whenever client presents with a negative experience, e.g., a recent grad in a position they don’t like, or a client with a negative career experience.


Expected Outcomes: List of initial career and life desires or wants that are obviously important to the client; Good building of rapport and trust.


Career Professional Actions: When client talks about a negative experience, Career Professional reframes negative statements by reversing negative experiences into positively worded desires. Capture what you hear in writing.


What didn’t you like about that job or experience?

Client may say things like: the boss was a micromanager; it was very repetitive; too much contact with customers; terrible shifts; etc.

You know what’s great about negative work experience? It helps you clarify what’s important to you in making work or career choices. Let’s take each one of the aspects of that job or experience you’re telling me, and let’s turn it into a statement of what’s really important to you. So if the boss was a micromanager, what would be important to you in a manager?

Client may say things like: boss gives me time and space to do my work.

Great! Let’s take the next one… if that job was really repetitive, what would be ideal? Is it variety? Or challenge?




We are presently synthesizing the quantitative results and the qualitative interview element to this study for a forthcoming peer-reviewed publication. Results will be presented at the NCDA Conference in Boston on July 10, 2013.




First Session Note Page TOOL. CareerCycles Method of Practice. Copyright © Mark Franklin



Mark FranklinMark Franklin, M.Ed., P.Eng., CMF, leads CareerCycles, a career management social enterprise with clients across North America, and a team of amazing career professionals. He is creator of CareerCycles narrative method of practice embraced by 160+ professionals, Who You Are MATTERS!® career and life clarification game, and the Career Buzz weekly radio show.His contact information is mark@careercycles.com (416)465-9222 www.careercycles.com



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1 Comment

Elizabeth Craig   on Wednesday 05/01/2013 at 08:31 PM

Hope! Optimism! Confidence! Resilience! Excellent outcome study and article Mark! Thank you for your great work! Congratulations on presenting about this at the NCDA 100th Anniversary Global Conference in July 2013, too! I look forward to seeing you in Boston!

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