Career Paths Are Not Set In Stone
If the idea of charting a career path for yourself makes you nervous, we totally get it. A lot of people feel like their future is set in stone once they make an official roadmap for it. Who knows what the future has in store, right?
But heres the thing: Career paths can and do change, usually in our formative years. In fact, about one-third of students decide to change their major within three years of declaring it.
For others, the decision to change careers comes much later in life. This can lead to an interesting career path that resembles a winding road, which is completely normal. As youll see below, not all paths need to follow a straight line.
The Importance Of Career Mapping With Your Employees
Do you want to know one of the best kept secrets in People Ops? Itâs not even an obscure idea. In fact, it used to be much more prevalent.
Itâs an employee experience strategy called career mapping.
Career mapping was more common before the advent of the Internet. People would join a company and typically stay until they retired. The company would develop and promote employees, and employees would repay companies with their loyalty.
Then the Internet made it faster and easier for employees to find a new job, and for companies to find new employees. Average employee tenure decreased, and companies largely stopped investing in career mapping and employee development under the assumption that people would only stay a few years.
Fast forward to today. Weâre facing record low unemployment, record high job openings, and a significant skills shortage. Employers are scrambling to find the talent they need to meet business goals. Peopleâespecially top performersâcan be picky about where they work. Career mapping could be the golden ticket to help employers find and keep the skilled workforce that they need.
Expand Your Knowledge And Skills
Now comes the tricky part: gaining the skills and knowledge you need to progress in your career. Read books, take online courses, and use whatever resources you have available to you at work to expand your skillset. Dont forget to ask for performance reviews at work to see if there is anything that could stand to be improved.
If you want to speed the process up considerably, look into getting a mentor. A good mentor can be a huge asset to your career by teaching you valuable skills and being a source of support.
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Identify Learning And Development Needs
Now you have a career map in place, assess how realistic it is for employees to advance with your current employee development systems. What training or mentoring are you already using to support individuals? If you’re not sure, some quick ways to find out include:
- Surveying your current workforce to assess satisfaction with learning and development // Get a useful template here
- Conduct exit interviews to decipher why people are leaving your company
- Analyze your mentoring, coaching, or job shadowing programs to determine how effective they are.
What Career Pathing Is
A career path is a sequence of jobs an employee aims to hold throughout their time at an organization. It maps out potential roles and the skills, knowledge, competencies, experience, and personal characteristics required for each job level as an employee moves up the corporate ladder.While career paths traditionally go from entry-level roles to C-suite roles within a department, not all career growth is vertical. Career paths can be flexible and allow employees to move laterally or cross-functionally as well. Having a detailed framework in place makes it easy for employees to understand which of their skills are transferable to other departments and roles within an organization, and encourages internal career changes.
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Your Big Why: Making A Change
Is the career path you’re on right now the one you really want? Maybe it’s just not working out. Or maybe you like your current career but want to take it to the next level.
If it’s time for a change, you need to understand your reasons for wanting the change and prepare yourself for the big transition.
Why Create A Career Map
While you may have a vague idea of your career goal in your head, if you havent pinned this down and made a clear plan of how you are going to get there, you are leaving a lot to chance.
Creating a career map will give you more control over ensuring that you make the right moves and decisions in your career to reach your chosen destination. It also provides an opportunity to examine the skills and strengths you already have and any weaknesses or gaps in your knowledge you may need to address.
The format of a career map encourages you to think about both short-term goals and long-term goals, and to define the steps you will need to take to move towards your final goal.
Spending some time thinking about all these different aspects will give you a much better insight into the career path you wish to follow and how to succeed.
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Mapping Out Career Path & Building Boldly
Based on her experience, Bolanle wrote the book Building Boldly to challenge individuals and leaders ready to change their professional path or other people’s paths within an organization.
When I reflected on my past as a CFO, I realized that I crafted my playbook to get me here
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Creating a career progression framework is easy with Zavvy’s employee growth solutions. As part of a career map, you’ll develop role cards and competencies before encouraging employees to forge their dream career paths.
â¡ï¸ Keep your top talent and prevent career FOMO by checking out this innovative approach to employee growth and development.
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Define Your Starting Point
Your current position in an organization can serve as your maps beginning. If youre applying for a new job, that can also be your starting point. It depends on what your goal is. Do you want a promotion? Or are you a freelancer wanting to upgrade your skillset and marketability?
Whether youre balancing a full-time job and a side hustle or focusing on a single career path, decide what your roadmaps point A is.
Create Customized Career Maps
The next step is to outline positions within the company that would be good career moves for the employee based on their answers to assessment questions.
Those positions may require a lateral move into a different department or a promotion in the current department. Whats important is that each proposed change capitalizes on the individuals knowledge and experience. Each position should be a good fit for an employee and help them achieve their future goals.
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Know Where You Want To End Up
If you want to build the passion for your values and goals, both in yourself and those you work with, you need a plan that you and others excited about. A very influential book in my life has been Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. He calls meaning the single most essential driving force for human beings, more than money or power.
Why Is Career Mapping Important
Creating a career map requires you to put some serious thought into what your goals are and what steps you can realistically take to move your career forward. Rather than a passive goal of being a dedicated employee, career mapping will give you actionable goals like, I need to learn X skill or I need to gain experience in X role. This will give you the guidance you need to charge full force into your future rather than simply waiting to be recognized for your hard work.
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Preparing For A Brighter Future
You wouldnt take a road trip without knowing where you were going, right? Mapping out your career path is like using your phones GPS for a trip. It tells you where you need to go in order to reach your final destination. Remember, its not set in stone! Be flexible with your career path and good things are sure to come your way.
Help Facilitate Networking Across Departments
Help employees learn more about advancement opportunities within your company by encouraging and facilitating cross-departmental conversations. Maybe theyll have coffee with a senior manager, and it will motivate them to work towards that job title themselves.
Or, maybe theyll meet someone in marketing, and find a passion for graphic design they didnt know they had. Either way, it will benefit their career planning and give them more reasons to stay at your company.
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Identify Your Skills And Interests
Choosing a career is a big deal. You’ll spend a significant amount of your life at work and so in order to enjoy your job, remain motivated and fulfil your potential, you need to make your career choices wisely.
You first need to know yourself. This means taking stock of your skills and assessing your interests and values.
It’s important to understand your range of skills and knowledge, so you can see if they’re a good fit for the job you’d like to do. Being aware of the skills you have also helps to highlight any gaps that may need to be filled to achieve your goals.
Make a list of all your transferable and specialist skills, with examples of when you’ve demonstrated each. An honest assessment of your skills, values and interests will prove useful when narrowing down your options in the next step. You can also see where you measure up in terms of the skills employers are looking for.
Consider where you are now, where you want to be and how you’re going to get there when it comes to fulfilling your career aspirations. If choosing a career has left you feeling lost, start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What am I good at?
- What are my interests, motivations and values?
- What did I most enjoy at university?
- What kind of lifestyle do I want?
- What do I want from my career?
- What is important to me?
If you’re struggling to identify your strengths, weaknesses and character traits, taking practice psychometric tests could bring them to light.
How To Support Effective Career Path Planning And Development
If you’re a manager, your employees want to see and understand the next opportunities within their company. This is especially important for ambitious employees who want and expect to see career development opportunities to be satisfied and motivated at work.
A thoughtful career path plan is a key factor in employee engagement and employee retention. An organization contributes to an employee’s ability to develop a career path by making the knowledge, skills, experience, and job requirements for each position within the company transparent. With this information, the employee can plan and prepare for various jobs and opportunities.
The organization supports employees in developing and pursuing a career path by providing access to opportunities and information such as job descriptions, an internal job application process, mentoring, promotions, and more. With access to these processes and systems, every employee should have the opportunity to pursue a career path.
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Career Path: How To Find Yours And Why It Matters
Imagine this youre thinking about your career goals and how fulfilled youd be in your dream job. Think about what success looks like for you and how youll feel on the first day of your ideal job.
Have you ever mapped out the steps you need to take to prepare yourself for that job? What qualifications will you need before applying for that position? What types of companies need that position?
You might need to meet certain requirements for your dream job. Knowing these requirements ahead of time will help you prepare for that job. This may include a college degree, a special certification, or on-the-job experience. One of the best ways to prepare for your dream job is to create and follow a career path.
This is where a career path comes in. A career path is a specific set of jobs that prepare you for upward growth in your industry. In this article, were going to discuss different career paths, along with the skills you need to create your own career path.
How To Use Career Mapping To Prevent A Talent Exodus
As the economy recovers from the global health crisis, organizations need to be prepared for a talent exodus. Employees who put their career plans on hold in exchange for job security during the pandemic are preparing to make job and career changes as the economy reopens.
There is typically a spike in voluntary turnover after a downturn, Robin Erickson, Ph.D., principal researcher at The Conference Board said in 2013 when the U.S. economy was recovering from a recession. Its a warning that hiring teams guiding their companies through todays economic recovery need to heed.
One way HR teams can get ahead of the talent exodus is to map the careers of their employees.
Career mapping gives employees a look into their future at the company and how that future aligns with their career goals. Employees want to see and understand the opportunities available within their company, writes Mason Stevenson, editorial manager at Corporate Learning Network. They expect to see career development opportunities while being satisfied and motivated.
Having that concrete roadmap may entice employees to stay with the company instead of leaving it to advance their careers.
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Navigating Your Career Path: How To Map It Out
Before traveling, most people figure out the most efficient route to their destination. If they hit the road without consulting a map or GPS and just try to wing it, theyll end up wasting valuable time and resources, and more than likely, theyll get lost along the way.
This same concept applies to your career: It will take you much longer to get where you want to go if you dont know how to get there. Thats why many career experts recommend taking the time to create a formal career plan to guide you through your professional life.
Regardless of how long youve been in the workforce, its important to take an active role in shaping the future of your career, said Amanda Augustine, career advice expert at TopResume, a career services provider. If youre not managing your career path, someone might do it for you and you might not like where it leads.
This doesnt mean you have to have everything figured out and follow your map exactly. The purpose of a career plan isnt to give yourself concrete, step-by-step instructions, but to establish a general direction toward your own personal career success.
The beauty of a career plan is that it will help you explore opportunities and various career paths so you can confidently determine a long-term career goal for yourself, and then take steps to achieve it, Augustine said.
Fill In Position Profiles
After youve mapped out the job positions you need to reach your dream job, fill out the necessary skills, experience, training, and certifications youll need to achieve each step in your career. If youre in a competitive field, you may want to consider listing a few additional skills that may increase your chances of advancing quickly.
For example, lets say that youre filling in a position profile for an assistant director of human resources. This is what it might look like:
Assistant Director of Human Resources
- Masters degree in Human Resources
- Experience with human resource information system
- SHRM certification
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Why Career Planning Is Important For Businesses
Businesses should care about career planning, too. If you help employees take steps forward in their careers, youll improve employee engagement and retention. You can even help prevent burnout and boost job satisfaction because workers will have bigger goals to focus on beyond their day-to-day.
Organizations that ignore career planning will limit employees professional development which means theyre likely to look for opportunities elsewhere. If you create a formal process that helps your team plan their careers, theyll know you care about their growth. In return, theyll be loyal, and youll see the benefit of them growing their careers over time.
S To Organized Career Planning
Determining long-term goals for your career can feel overwhelming. Once you have an action plan, though, it can accelerate your growth and streamline your efforts. Its worth taking the time to commit your ideas to paper .
So where do you begin with career planning? Follow these 7 steps:
Now lets dive a little deeper into each of these.
Be bold with your goal-setting at this stage in the process. In a perfect world, what would you do for a living? Do a job search on Linkedin for the title that you want to have. Read the job description, paying close attention to the skills and responsibilities of the position. Who do they report to? How much education do they have? What kind of companies are hiring for that role?
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