Purpose: Career plateau is a major concern for many seasoned employees because they often stay in the same position longer than expected and over time begin to lack job challenges. This phenomenon is now considered a normal stage in career development. The purpose of this study is to test the effects of two types of career plateau: hierarchical and job content on career commitment (career identity, career insight and career resilience), along with the mediating effect of perceived external employability. We also determined in the moderated mediation model if Super's (1957) three career stages amplify and attenuate the indirect effect of hierarchical/job content plateau on career commitment (career identity, career insight, career resilience) via perceived external employability. Design/methodology/approach: We tested the hypotheses with survey data collected from a convenience sample of 472 white-collar full-time employees who also studied in the MBA and continuing education program in five large universities in Taiwan (77% return rate). Findings: The mediation model result showed that perceived external employability partially and negatively mediated the influence of hierarchical plateaus on career commitment (career identity, career insight and career resilience). Perceived external employability partially and negatively mediated the influence of job content plateaus on career identity and career insight but fully and negatively mediated on career resilience. The result of the moderated mediation model also demonstrated that only employees in the trial stage had influences on the mediation relationships among the hierarchical plateau, perceived external employability and career commitment with its two dimensions of career identity and career insight only other than those in the stabilization and maintenance stages. Practical implications: The findings of this study can benefit career management scholars and practitioners since they promote a better understanding of the career management practices that are relevant for seasoned employees who are valued for their knowledge, experience and expertise when encountering the three career stages. Originality/value: Drawing on the conservation of resources (COR) theoretical perspective, we fill the gap in the literature by proposing perceived external employability as a mediator in the link between career plateau and career commitment and generalize the results to plateaued employees at the different career stages.
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