This seems to be a vaguely pejorative term to mean someone who is trying to advance their career by any means necessary, even those unrelated to work performance.

I found various definitions consistent with that:

Careerism is the propensity to pursue career advancement, power, and prestige outside of work performance.

Pursuit of professional advancement as one’s chief or sole aim.

a person who values success in his or her career above all else and seeks to advance it by any possible means

However, in other contexts, the word is used in a more neutral of celebratory way:

So, a mixed bag. In some cases, it’s kind of an insult, and in some cases, it’s not.

Why I Looked It Up

In an article on evolutionary science:

A new wave of scientists argues that mainstream evolutionary theory needs an urgent overhaul. Their opponents have dismissed them as misguided careerists – and the conflict may determine the future of biology

I dug into the article to find more on the usage, and it boils down to this:

The evolutionary theorist Jerry Coyne later wrote that the scientists behind the EES were playing “revolutionaries” to advance their own careers.

So, pejorative there, clearly.

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