Career Development & Planning: A Comprehensive Approach (7th Edition)

Book Review By Terry Cummins

Reardon, R. C., Lenz, J. G., Peterson, G. W., Sampson, J. P., Jr. (2022). Career Development & Planning: A Comprehensive Approach. Kendall Hunt. 326 pages.


Career courses, defined as a “program of instruction included in college curriculum and providing credit towards a student’s graduation” (Reardon et al., 2021), have been part of higher education for over 40 years. Scholars have documented that such courses are related to student gains in self-efficacy, career satisfaction, career certainty career, clarity with career choice, and other dimensions of student learning (Reardon et al., 2021). Given the prominence and lasting effects of these courses, it is crucial to identify a textbook that addresses the complex nature of career development and planning in today’s world.

Career Dev And Planning BookIn Career Development & Planning: A Comprehensive Approach (7th edition), authors Reardon, Lenz, Peterson, and Sampson (2022) offer decades of experience in research and teaching to guide instructors of career development courses. Institutions can tailor the textbook’s content to accommodate 1 to 3 credits and also meet most general education requirements (through a cognitive psychology, sociological and economical approach). As they prepared the seventh edition, the authors also responded to feedback by removing some of the heavier material and incorporating recent changes in the work world, such as COVID and remote work.

The text is divided into three parts, each with five chapters. Part I focuses on history, theories, and definitions to help the reader understand why career planning became necessary in the 21st century and what constitutes career planning. The authors also introduce readers to self-awareness and understanding, describing how values, skills, and interest play a role in career decision making. Readers then examine decision-making models and how individuals make decisions, which students can apply to both personal and professional decisions. Chapter One presents the Cognitive Information Processing (CIP) theory-based approach, which “can help people make better use of all the information available for career decisions” (p. 10). CIP is interwoven at the end of the chapters in Part II and III to aid the student in applying this approach in various career development topics.

In Part II of the text, readers investigate the world of work, including how things have changed in the past 2 to 3 years with the impact of COVID, the increase in remote work, and the importance of the global mindset. The chapters include important factors such as employment trends, growth projections, and earning potential. The authors then connect these points back to an individual’s self-assessment of values, goals, etc., and how a person makes decisions. Chapter 8 covers different types of organizations and how their organizational structure can also influence the reader’s career. Chapter 9 highlights different types of work including job sharing, and shift work, remote work, and internships. Chapter 10 focuses on how the reciprocal relationship between family and work influences everyone. Aligned with inclusive practices, the authors acknowledge “that we no longer live in a world where gender is seen as consisting of two labels” (p. 136). Although they present recent data, they also acknowledge that scholars have not quite caught up to changes in gender terminology.

Part III starts the development of career planning and tools, including topics such as the following: how to find jobs; types of written communication including cover letters, resumes, and references; and verbal communication like interviewing, networking, and negotiating. The authors dedicated more than seven pages to utilizing the internet in the job search, including several ideas for what sites to use and how to assess site safety. While this can be dangerous to include in print as technology changes rapidly, readers are provided with a strong foundational starting point for the job search. The text concludes with strategies for students to start their first job successfully.

The accompanying instructor’s manual includes lesson plans for 29 classes and in-class activities. This toolkit aids instructors as they translate the information in the text into learning outcomes and structured class periods. Each lesson contains PowerPoint presentations and active learning opportunities for students. Instructors will appreciate that they can adopt various formats to align with whatever credit-bearing practices exist at their institutions. Some of the lesson plans may require instructors who are new to the field to examine career development research further.

Overall, Career Development & Planning: A Comprehensive Approach (7th edition) text and instructor’s manual provide a good mix of theory/history with applicable/transferable skills and data. The authors effectively introduce readers to concepts such as decision-making that are applicable to multiple aspects of life, which supports students as they move throughout each chapter. Career specialists can use theoretically-grounded texts like this publication to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and confidence necessary to make informed career decisions and adapt to the evolving world of work.



Reardon, R., Lenz, J., Peterson, G. W., & Sampson, J. (2022). Career development & planning: A comprehensive approach (7th ed.). Kendall-Hunt.

Reardon, R. C., Peace, C. S., & Burbrink, I. E. (2021). College career courses and instructional research from 1976 through 2019. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1037/stl0000254



Terry CumminsTerry Cummins, MEd, is an Assistant Teaching Professor and Internship Director at the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at The Pennsylvania State University (World Campus). She holds a MEd in Counselor Education (with an emphasis in Career Counseling) from Penn State University and provides career counseling at Penn State Career Services (University Park). She can be reached at  tfs2@psu.edu.

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