The construction of careers has become a central focus of contemporary trends in career counseling theory. In practice, this focus has resulted in the increasing adoption of narrative approaches to career counseling. Concomitant with these trends in theory and practice has been an emphasis on individuals as active agents in the construction of their career identities. A tacit assumption is that individuals know how to do this. But do they? How would they learn the skills of career construction?
This chapter views the construction of career identity as a process that begins in childhood and continues throughout life. It considers the systemic location in which career identity is constructed and how systemic thinking may be a useful skill for individuals to learn in order to take a more active and intentional role in the construction of their career identities. Systemic thinking is fundamental to narrative approaches to career counseling but a criticism of these approaches is that career practitioners struggle to know how to implement them (Reid, Career counselling: Constructivist approaches, pp. 16–29. London, Routledge, 2006) . Constructs such as meaning making and agency that underpin narrative career counseling are somewhat esoteric in nature (Reid, Career counselling: Constructivist approaches, pp. 16–29. London, Routledge, 2006) and their practical application is not clearly articulated. The systemic thinking constructs of connectedness, reflection, meaning making, learning and agency (McMahon, Journal of Employment Counseling, 42:29–38, 2005) are recursively related (McMahon et al., British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 40:127–141, 2012a) . Systemic thinking may be regarded as an essential skill in the construction of career identity. This chapter proposes that implementing systemic thinking in practice can be learned and that narrative career counseling can be a site for such learning. Practical suggestions are offered to assist career counselors and individuals to develop the skill of systemic thinking in order to facilitate the construction of identity.