Career exploration: A review and future research agenda

Zhou Jiang, Alexander Newman, Huong Le, Alfred Presbitero, Connie Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


To move forward in their career journeys, individuals engage in career exploration by reflecting upon both personal (i.e., internal) and contextual (i.e., external) factors. The extent to which this exploration is effectively processed drives individuals’ attitudes, behaviors, and other career- and work-related outcomes. Over the last two decades, a growing body of empirical research has been undertaken in relation to career exploration. However, debate continues as to how career exploration should be conceptualized and measured, which factors influence its development, and how and when it affects individuals’ career and work outcomes. The present study undertakes a review of the career exploration literature to identify research gaps and assist in the development of an agenda for future work. In particular, the review reveals the need to integrate a dynamic life-span perspective to enhance our understanding of career exploration and the need for future research to identify the key mechanisms that explain the effects of career exploration and the contingencies of any such effects. Additionally, future research should investigate individuals’ real-time experiences, adopt longitudinal and experimental designs, broaden the current narrow focus of studies on students to include employees, examine multilevel phenomena, and examine the effects of institutional and economic contexts on individuals’ career exploration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-356
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Issue numberPart B
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Career exploration
  • Environmental exploration
  • Review
  • Self-exploration


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