The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the labor market considerably. Initial estimates from the McKinsey Global Institute (2021) suggest that approximately 100 million workers must switch occupations in the global post-COVID-19 economy. The effects of COVID-19 have led to an increased need for career guidance and counseling that focus on individual adaptation. Career construction theory (CCT) focuses on the strengthening of agency and indicates that individuals can build their careers through adaptation (Savickas, 2020). The unanticipated changes and challenges that have arisen during the various phases of the COVID-19 pandemic have compelled numerous individuals to adapt by adjusting themselves or their surroundings. The CCT adaptation model describes the interactions among career adaptivity, adaptability resources, adapting responses, and adaptation results (Savickas, 2021). Given the central role of career adaptability in the adaptation process of the CCT model, the present study investigated the predictors of career adaptability among Taiwan adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although other scholars tested the CCT adaptation model (Rudolph et al., 2017), the present study differs from this previous study in that it specifically tested whether the model could be used to describe the relationship between adaptivity (in terms of career calling, perceived career chaos, and future work self) and career adaptability, with future work self serving as a mediator. Career adaptivity refers to the personality trait of flexibility or having motivational willingness to adapt in response to career-related changes and challenges (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012). By contrast, career adaptability refers to the psychosocial competencies that characterize an individual’s self-regulation resources for managing career development tasks, occupational transition, and workplace challenges (Savickas, 2021). According to the CCT adaptation model, individuals with stronger adaptivity are more likely to develop their career adaptability (Savickas, 2021). Savickas and Porfeli (2012) indicated that adaptability can be defined using operational indicators such as cognitive flexibility, proactiveness, or the Big Five personality traits. Rudolph et al. (2017) proposed two sets of individual characteristics as the operational indicators of adaptability: cognitive ability and personality traits. Although numerous studies have investigated the relationship between personality traits and career adaptability, empirical evidence regarding the influence of other indicators of adaptability on career adaptability is limited. On the basis of the CCT adaptation model and the model of proactive motivation, the present study focused on cognitive flexibility and motivational willingness as indicators of career adaptability. With consideration of the findings presented in the literature, we proposed that career calling and future work self could be conceptualized as motivational willingness and that perceived career chaos could be conceptualized as cognitive flexibility. We hypothesized that (1) an individual having a stronger career calling predicts whether they have greater career adaptability, (2) an individual having a more salient image of their future work self predicts whether they have greater career adaptability, (3) an individual having higher perceived career chaos predicts whether they have greater career adaptability, (4) an individual having a stronger career calling predicts whether they have a more salient image of their future work self, and (5) a person having higher perceived career chaos predicts whether they have a more salient image of their future work self. In addition, we hypothesized that future work self partially mediates the association between career calling and career adaptability and the association between perceived career chaos and career adaptability. Data were collected through an anonymous online survey, which was conducted over a 25-day period (the survey was first accessible on December 6, 2021) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The participants of the present study were informed of its purpose and voluntarily completed the questionnaire. Overall, 411 participants provided valid responses. The participants were aged between 18 and 76 years (mean age, 30.9 years; standard deviation, 11.8), 33.6% and 66.4% were men and women, respectively. The online questionnaire comprised a Career Calling Scale, a Perceived Career Chaos Scale, the Future-Work-Self Salience Scale–Taiwan, and the Career Adapt-Ability Scale–Taiwan. The Career Calling Scale and Perceived Career Chaos Scale were developed for Taiwanese adults by Wang and Wu (2017) and by Tien and Wu (2022), respectively. The Future-Work-Self Salience Scale–Taiwan (Kuo, 2014) is a modified version of the scale developed by Strauss et al. (2012). The Career Adapt Ability Scale–Taiwan (Tien et al., 2012) is a modified version of the Career Adapt-Ability Scale–International Form 2.0 (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012). These four scales have been demonstrated to exhibit adequate reliability and strong internal consistency. Several analyses were conducted. First, we performed an exploratory analysis, which involved analyzing descriptive statistics and the correlations between measures. Subsequently, we conducted path analysis to test the hypotheses that career calling, future work self, and perceived career chaos are predictors of greater career adaptability. Finally, the Sobel test was conducted to determine whether future work self had a significant mediating effect (Wen & Ye, 2014). The results reveal positive correlations between career calling and career adaptability, between future work self and career adaptability, and between perceived career chaos and career adaptability. Future work self was positively correlated with career calling and perceived career chaos. The results of the hypothesis testing indicate that (1) career calling positively predicts career adaptability, (2) future work self positively predicts career adaptability, (3) perceived career chaos positively predicts career adaptability, (4) career calling positively predicts future work self, and (5) perceived career chaos does not predict future work self. Differences in the levels of perceived career chaos did not significantly explain the variations in the presumed mediator (future work self). Therefore, according to the recommendations of Baron and Kenny (1986), one of our hypothesized mediation models was disconfirmed. Accordingly, we tested only the mediating effect of future work self on the relationship between career calling and career adaptability. The results of the path analysis and Sobel test (Sobel’s t = 5.05, p <.001) indicate that future work self significantly mediated the relationship between career calling and career adaptability. Studies have identified a connection between personal traits and career adaptability (Rudolph et al., 2017). The present study contributes to the literature on the operational indicators of adaptability. Furthermore, the results reveal moderate correlations to be present among the studied variables and indicate that Taiwanese adults with a stronger career calling, higher perceived career chaos, and a more salient image of their future work self tended to perceive themselves to be more adaptable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regarding the current study’s contributions to the literature on career adaptivity, first, we analyzed motivational willingness (in terms of career calling and future work self) as an operational indicator of adaptivity. The results indicate that a strong career calling and salient self-set goals (i.e., a salient image of one’s future work self) generate motivational willingness, which leads to more adaptability resources for coping with unpredictable changes, such as those associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, becoming available. Second, as of the time of writing, no study has explored the link between perceived career chaos and career adaptability in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The key aspects of careers has been summarized as complexity, chance, connection, and change (Pryor & Bright, 2011). The present study revealed that individuals with a clearer understanding of the characteristics of career development exhibited greater flexibility, which enabled them to access more adaptability resources. Finally, we discovered that adults with a stronger career calling were more capable of developing a salient image of their future working life, which, in turn, predicted greater career adaptability. In summary, scholars have made considerable progress in clarifying the predictors of career adaptability and testing the CCT adaptation model. In the present study, we expanded the scope of the literature on the operational indicators of adaptivity to clarify how adaptability resources become accessible. Our findings can help career counselors to assist adults in developing their career adaptability during the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, our results do not support the mediating effect of future work self on the relationship between perceived career chaos and career adaptability. Thus, future studies should further investigate the mechanisms that determine how adaptivity improves the accessibility of adaptability resources.
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