Career Mapping: An Introduction for Leaders

Employers use many strategies to grow and retain their talent. Many of these strategies include ways for employees to feel more satisfied and fulfilled at a company. Career mapping is a way employers can work with their employees to help them get where they want to be professionally. Learn how your organization can benefit from this employee retention method. 


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What is career mapping?

Career mapping, also known as career pathing, is a way employers show their employees how they can progress within the company. When career mapping, management meets with each employee to outline the criteria for ways they can advance their career and move to a new position. During this discussion, they can talk about the employee’s career goals and how the company can help make them happen. 

Read more: How to Motivate Your Employees


Benefits of career mapping

Here are some benefits of career mapping:

  • Higher employee retention: One common reason employees seek work elsewhere is so they have more opportunities to advance their careers. Career mapping is beneficial to your company because it helps you retain more quality employees. By setting up a path for them to progress within your company, they can advance their career while staying with the same business. 
  • Clear goals and expectations: Another benefit is that career mapping gives employees clearer goals and expectations within your company. As they move forward, they know what they need to do to grow in their role and get promoted to a new position. This helps your company because you can work with your employees to create goals that align with their vision and the future of the company. 
  • Increased employee morale: When employees have a chance to reflect on their careers, they may also feel more motivated. Someone who knows they have a clearly defined future at a company may feel more satisfied and productive at work. Boosting employee morale can create a better work environment for everyone. 

Related: How to Communicate a Pay Raise


How to create a career map for your employees

Creating a career map is a collaborative process between you and your employees. You need to work together to help them identify and work toward their professional goals.

Follow these steps to create a career map with your employees:


1. Meet for a career planning discussion

Plan a time to meet with each employee to hold a career planning discussion. Before the meeting, have each employee fill out a self-assessment sheet that goes over their skills, abilities and previous experiences and accomplishments. Additionally, have the employee identify their main goals and interests. 


2. Work through a self-assessment

During your meeting, work through their self-assessment sheet together. Have them explain each component and elaborate on anything that stands out. Then, talk to them about their current role at the company. Ask them which parts of their job they like the most and if there is anything they would like to change. 


3. Look at the employee’s career goals

After learning more about your employee, spend some time talking about their career goals. Ask them the following questions:

  • Where do you see yourself in the next year?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • If you could do anything at this company, what would it be?
  • Is this company helping you reach your current goals? If not, what could we do better?
  • What skills do you hope to develop while working here? 
  • What does your dream job look like? 


4. Find positions within the company that fit their goals

Based on their responses, think of which positions or responsibilities at your company would align with their career goals. This could mean they want to move vertically within the company to a leadership position. You may also find that based on their interests, they would be more satisfied moving laterally to a different department or team within the company. 

While discussing different positions, inform them of everything each role entails. This includes the workload, job duties, responsibilities and potential co-workers. Be transparent about what they should expect and look forward to. 


5. Create an individualized career map 

Once the employee decides how they would like to progress at your company, create a career map that will help get them there. This includes goals they should work toward and the skills they need to develop. Create a realistic picture of how long it would take them to get to this next step in their career. For example, if the position they eventually want is currently filled, inform them that they can apply for the job once the opportunity becomes available. 


Frequently asked questions about career mapping

Here are some frequently asked questions about career mapping: 


What types of companies benefit the most from career mapping?

Larger companies tend to benefit more from career mapping since there are more positions and opportunities for employees to move around. Smaller companies with plans to expand can also benefit from this method since they can create new positions based on their employees’ skills and goals. To make career mapping successful for your business, indicate the different levels and departments within your company when you meet with your employees. In addition, create a clear set of criteria for ways employees can move between these levels and departments. 


Are there any challenges with career mapping?

One challenge employers may experience with this method include employees who do not wish to progress within the company. They may simply be content in their current role. In this case, allow the employee to continue to work in their role without pressure to move up in the company. Continue to meet with them periodically to see if they have new aspirations or if they are still happy with their current responsibilities.


Can a high-level employee benefit from career mapping?

Almost every type of employee benefits from setting goals and expectations in their position. Even if a high-level employee can’t further advance in the company, they still can grow in their role and become a better leader. 


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