As boundaryless careers become mainstream, individuals need to enhance career decision-making self-efficacy (CDSE) during career transitions to secure better employment outcomes and sustainable career development, especially when moving from a school to a work environment. Drawing on social cognitive career theory, this study empirically proposed a moderated mediation model to examine whether proactive personality (measured at Time 1), career success criteria clarity (CSCC, measured at Time 2), and family socioeconomic status (including family income, parents’ educational level, and parents’ occupational level; measured at Time 1) would contribute to CDSE (measured at Time 2). Results based on a two-wave survey of 235 college students showed that: (1) proactive personality positively predicted CDSE; (2) CSCC positively predicted CDSE; (3) CSCC partly mediated the relation between proactive personality and CDSE; (4) the positive effect of CSCC on CDSE was stronger among students with a lower family socioeconomic status. Individuals with strong proactive personalities were more likely to develop salience in career success criteria and in turn became more confident in making career decisions. Therefore, vocational educators in higher education could help to improve students’ CDSE by promoting training programs for proactive thinking, providing successful role models, and encouraging family involvement, especially for students with a lower family socioeconomic status.
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