Competency Category:

3.2 – Build Self-Agency

Purpose & Context

Career Development Professionals (CDPs) build self-agency of clients to promote independence and resilience, increase motivation, and reduce anxiety. Building self-agency also helps increase clients’ sense of control, hope, and confidence in their ability to achieve career goals.

Effective Performance

Competent career development professionals must be able to:

  • P1. Identify expressions of low self-agency, for example:
    • Perceived incompetence, e.g. “I wouldn’t be able to do that”
    • Low outcome expectations, e.g. “I could do that, but it wouldn’t work”
  • P2. Deliver intervention to improve self-agency, for example:
    • Set achievable, short-term goals
    • Select activities perceived as low-risk, e.g. list experiences to include in résumé
    • Explore expressed interests, i.e. use intrinsic motivation
    • Select activities to develop independence, e.g. ask client to complete self-assessment at home
  • P3. Assess impact of low self-agency beyond career development, e.g. mental health
  • P4. Refer to qualified professional, if required

Knowledge & Understanding

Competent career development professionals must know and understand:

  • K1. Causes of low self-agency, e.g. trauma, long-term unemployment
  • K2. Indicators of low self-agency, e.g. expressions of perceived incompetence
  • K3. Effects of low self-agency, e.g. pessimism, avoidance of goal setting

Contextual Variables

Competent career development professionals must be able to perform this competency in the following range of contexts:

Depending on the client, low self-agency, i.e. a lack of perceived control over their own life, can pose a key barrier to career development. In this situation, its improvement should be a CDP’s primary goal.

Glossary & Key References


Industry-specific terms contained in the standard defined here, where applicable.

Self-agency: the power an individual has over their own life. Self-agency means that an individual has a sense of control over their actions or events that may affect them.

Information Sources and Resources for Consideration


Context Rating Scales


Q: What is the consequence of a professional being unable to perform this skill according to the standard?



Q: How frequent and under what conditions is this skill performed?

Occasionally, e.g. generally several times in a month

Level of Difficulty

Q: Under routine circumstances, how would you rate the level of difficulty in performing this skill?

Moderate difficulty or complexity

Time Required to Gain Proficiency

Q: What is the average length of time or number of repeated events that are minimally necessary for an individual to become proficient in performing the skill to the standard?

A career development professional requires a minimum experience of working with at least 40 clients experiencing low self-agency.


Practitioners typically perform this competency without supervision, and alone.


It is unlikely that this competency will automate.

Requisite Work Aids, Tools, Equipment or Materials


Career Development Professional Centre

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Our Purpose  

Thank you for being a part of the online CDPC social learning community. To ensure that all members have the best possible experience, we have a few ground rules that we ask everyone to adhere to. This code of conduct applies equally to every person in the community and is intended to foster an online space that is inclusive, safe, and welcoming to all. 

Community Rules 

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We strive to be a community that welcomes and supports people of all backgrounds and identities. We aim to create and facilitate a community that promotes excellence and innovation in career and workforce development. Please extend respect to all members; we all come from different backgrounds and levels of knowledge and there is no such thing as a stupid question. 

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Group Admins 

There are four group admins who are available to you. Below are their names and their spoken language. 

Heather Powell | Anglophone 

Gabrielle St-Cyr | Francophone/Anglophone 

Florence Desrochers | Francophone/Anglophone

Muriel Andoblé-Yao | Francophone

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