What is career pathing and how does it help companies?

These days, employees are more than just cogs in the machine. They’re a handful of skilled individuals contributing to the greater goal of a company. In turn, they need professional and personal development so they can thrive as an employee. They look for companies that provide training and coaching that’s beneficial for them in the long run.

More often than not, companies lack a clear direction when it comes to career progression. This would likely turn into a high rate of employee turnover rate and if no swift action is taken, a gradual decrease in overall performance. When a company is willing to invest in the development of their employees, turnover rates would significantly decrease and motivation in the workplace would skyrocket.

Career pathing is not a new term in the world of human resources. Think of it like charting a route for your next road trip. Or, if you’re a big fan of science fiction, charting the most efficient course to get to the next galaxy. It will allow both employees and employers to map out the most efficient and effective path to get workers to exactly where they want to be.

What is career pathing?

The career path meaning is exactly what you think it would be. Career pathing allows employees to set a clear trajectory of their career progression in the company. Drawing out a clear career path calls attention to potential positions and advancements that are beneficial for each employee’s career goals. Not only that, but it will also highlight any necessary skills and competencies needed to help employees get to where they want to be.

It is a common belief that career growth is relatively vertical. When one starts as an entry-level junior executive, one expects to eventually end up with a C-suite position. With a clear career path, employees can progress cross-functionally and laterally as well. It allows more growth opportunities for employees compared to the traditional vertical career ladder.

How can career pathing help companies?

A company’s goal when it comes to human resources is to retain employees for as long as possible and to do that, effective career pathing must be implemented. When employees feel fulfilled in their workplace, they will perform better and become more beneficial for the company. To make employees feel fulfilled, companies must do their part in the form of training, guidance, and so on. See more Aceendo’s Solutions Page

Not only does career pathing benefit employees, but it’s also a valuable practice for employers to adapt. Career pathing establishes transparency, promoting trust between management and employees. It can also point out any development opportunities that are needed for the employees to thrive in their respective career paths.

A. For Employers

1. Highlights development opportunities

Career pathing is not just beneficial for the employees. Companies can leverage this method to plan out a clear road map, especially when it comes to training, coaching, and so on. For instance, if there’s a handful of employees interested in learning Python or SQL, employers can start holding training classes or seminars by bringing in coding experts.

When you plan out development opportunities in advance, it makes planning and investing your budget much easier. HR teams can point out which development opportunity is of the highest demand and brings the highest, most valuable returns for the employees.

2. Clarify job descriptions and expectations

Companies are urged to create a detailed and thorough job description and skill requirements for each role in the company. Once the job descriptions are set, career pathing becomes so much easier. When an employee wants a promotion or a change in path, they can refer to these job descriptions to prepare for their progression.

It also helps differentiate levels within a career path. For example, the career path of a software engineer might look different from a graphic designer and within each path, the job description and skills of a senior engineer and a team lead must be differentiated. This way, when the performance review period comes around, it’s easy for employees and their managers to create expectations and benchmarks for a certain role.

3. Promote transparency

When a company has concrete career plans for its employees, it promotes transparency and integrity between the two parties. Employees can have a clear idea of how their career is going to look if they stay with the company for a specific amount of time.

It will also show employees all the possibilities when it comes to a career change or shifts within the company. One of the reasons why employees leave a company is the lack of career progression. If they’re unable to climb the vertical career ladder, they would want to look for an opportunity in another role. Letting employees know that this is a possibility in the company will likely prevent a high turnover rate.


Career pathing establishes transparency, promoting trust between management and employees

B. For Employees

1. Take control of your career journey

These days, employees are interested in more than just pay raises, benefits, and promotions. People seek professional and personal growth where they can continuously learn new things. Career pathing gives employees the upper hand in their employment journey. It ensures that their progress is aligned with their ultimate goals.

Most employees feel stuck at work as there’s a lack of autonomy when it comes to individual career progression. They feel like they can only succeed if they’re handed the opportunity from the management side. With career pathing, employees can create their own opportunities.

2. More motivation at work

Planning a career path can also be attributed to an increase in motivation. It helps employees avoid the feeling of being stuck in a certain position with no possibility of progression and expansion. With specific goals laid out in their career path, every task they do becomes more meaningful and fulfilling.

Giving employees the autonomy to take charge of their careers will inspire them to work harder and smarter. TalentGuard shared that career pathing can increase an employee’s productivity as high as 70% and this includes profitability attributed to lesser missed days, more positive interactions, and eventually fewer turnover costs. While TalentGuard’s case study focuses on sales through customer interaction, this data can still support the benefits of career pathing for employees’ motivation.

3. Build your career support system

Once a career path is set, as an employee, you can get started on planning the steps to achieve your career goals. One of the most important elements in achieving career goals is to surround yourself with the right people who can support your career ambitions. See more Accendo’s Resources

For example, you may want to shift your career from account management to social media specialist. To become a specialist, find a social media mentor who can guide and teach the necessary skills to start your career shift. A mentor can also help answer any questions you may have regarding the role and the career trajectory of said role.

4. Laser focus on required skills

Let’s say you dream of becoming a data analyst. You need to sharpen your soft skills that can be of value when you become a data analyst. With career pathing, you would know exactly what skills are required for a role you desire to fill. For example, you would need to learn how to analyze data on Excel, therefore you need spreadsheets training as well as training on how to sharpen your analytical mindset.

This allows you to have a laser focus on the required skills necessary to get you to your desired role. As a data analyst, you don’t need training on how to make a successful sale. It may be a useful secondary skill, but it’s not required for the role you want. You will allocate your time and energy accordingly towards what’s needed.


TalentGuard shared that career pathing can increase an employee’s productivity as high as 70%

How can companies start career pathing?

1. Build a competency framework

It doesn’t matter how big or small a corporation is. An established company should have the necessary foundations to start career pathing and this includes a competency framework, typically used during performance appraisals.

A competency framework can be multi-functional, from recruiting to performance management. However, in the case of career pathing, a competency framework is like your manual. Don’t hesitate to continuously refer to the competency framework to build career paths, specialized roles, and so on. This way, whichever way you want to approach career pathing, it will be aligned with the company’s visions and bigger goals.

A competency framework can be used to regularly check in with employees on any progress as well as pain points. These pain points can be anything regarding job expectations, daily tasks, to teamwork. If there’s any lack that needs to be addressed, a competency framework is an ideal source to refer back to.

2. Establish a clear company structure

A clear company structure is also needed before you start the process of career pathing. Departments and teams need to be established before a company can introduce relevant roles. From there, you can start adding expectations for certain roles that would be integral to the advancement of an employee’s career.

While company restructuring is almost inevitable, especially if you’re a small company or a startup. But, when you establish a clear and organized company structure, any shifts in the organization will be welcomed by the employees and not be met with animosity. Employees will still have a clear vision in their career journey if the company also has a clear vision of what the organization should look like. See more Accendo’s Company Press releases

3. Utilize career pathing tools and software

There are career pathing tools and software available to aid companies to implement this process effectively. Career pathing software makes it easy for companies to track the progress and career development of each employee.

An effective career pathing tool uses algorithms that compile all skills and roles that currently exist in a company’s career development framework. These algorithms need your company’s existing data sets to make a calculated and accurate projection of one’s career path.

For these career pathing tools to work, first, your company needs to establish a clear career development framework. Peter Waring of Fuel50 lists down three factors that can contribute to successful career pathing:

  • Current data that contains all the overlapping skills relevant to all available roles in the company,
  • Historical data of past career progression so the algorithm can learn from past patterns,
  • And developers with a deep understanding of algorithms and machine learning to maintain the framework.

A good career path tool would do all the hard work for you, and all you would need is a set of reliable historical and current data of all the roles and relevant skills. These career pathing tools would analyze the patterns and accurately predict the suitable career path for each employee.


Career pathing might just be the key to employee retention. It highlights opportunities for career growth that might not be previously visible to both employees and management. It also gives way for something other than a vertical career progression and promotes an environment where career change is not just accepted, but also urged.

As an employee, when you’re looking for opportunities with a certain company, see if there’s a transparent career pathing system in place. You may feel like you’re working in your dream role now, but 1-5 years down the road, the scenario might change. Career pathing can help ease your professional development journey in more ways than one.

For companies, you must ensure that you have an established structure at hand, along with a competency framework before you can start career pathing. Once you have all the historical data of career progression within your company, you can start using tools or software to aid in your career pathing plan. Career pathing should be easy once all parties are prepared and willing to implement this process for the betterment of both company and all employees involved.

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