This paper compares contemporary career theory with the theory applied in recent career success research. The research makes inconsistent use of career theory, and in particular neglects the interdependence of the objective and subjective careers, and ‘boundaryless career’ issues of inter-organizational mobility and extra-organizational support. The paper offers new guidelines for bringing about a rapprochement between career theory and career success research. These guidelines cover adequacy of research designs, further dimensions of career success, broader peer group comparisons, deeper investigation of the subjectively driven person, and seeing new connections between boundaryless career theory and career success research. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.