How to Retain Talent Using Career Pathways

Published on Jan 18, 2023

Updated on Sep 6, 2023

Written by Elaine Pierson

Retain Talent

Updated September 6, 2023

Most employees have an idea about where they want to go in their careers. But it’s the trajectory to get there that is often unclear. Employers with the right information can communicate clear courses of action and offer career development opportunities to their employees. Career Pathways help to define the steps for workers to advance, and more importantly, the skills required.

As an employer, attracting the right candidates for open positions is just one part of a successful workforce strategy. Making sure each individual is set up to succeed, based on their current and future skills, is equally as important.  

How do you do this? Career Pathways. 

Career Pathways use skills to show employers how workers can advance between roles and succeed in the workforce. 

Want to expand talent pools? By identifying skill overlaps, you can reveal current employees who you might have overlooked as well as find people outside of your organization who have the right skills to succeed. When you see how skills can be applied in new contexts, you open the door to new sources of talent and can illustrate to your own employees how their skills are valued. 

Sometimes, Career Pathways can be straightforward. For example, a Marketing Assistant could transition into a management role, gaining the relevant skills and leadership experience needed to become a Chief Marketing Officer down the road. 

Marketing Assistant
Next-step jobs for Marketing Assistants/Associates

But a career path might not be so clear. Workers can transition into new roles from different occupation groups all together, based on related skills. For example, a Robotics Engineer could feasibly become a Web Developer, considering the occupations’ related specialized, common, and software skills, such as computer science, communications, and Python. 

Web Developer
Feeder jobs for Web Developers

In our blog, Career Pathways of TV and Movie Characters, we take a look at the careers of some of our favorite on-screen characters. Rachel from Friends for example, went from waitress to executive in an unlikely, but completely plausible career trajectory.

Rachel’s story is just a fun example to help us think about how workers can move from job to job, but whether or not you watch Friends...

Career Pathways are important. Why?

With the US labor market likely to stay as tight as it’s ever been, employers who use a career pathways approach will be able to attract and retain talent

We can tie attraction and retention together with employee development. Potential employees who see the possibility for professional growth in a company will be more likely to apply. Employees who have the opportunity to advance at their current organization will be more likely to stay. Retaining employees not only saves you money and time, but it also contributes to a stronger company culture in the long run. One of the main reasons people leave their jobs is due to lack of career advancement opportunities. Don’t let this be why you lose employees of your own. 

So, how do you help employees develop and advance within your company?

Here are five ways to use Career Pathways for employee development:

  1. Identify the most important skills to individual roles as well as your whole organization 

  2. Offer a variety of learning opportunities for your employees to hone their skills

  3. Be transparent about the promotion opportunities available (and encouraged) for your employees

  4. Provide support as employees progress through their careers

  5. Recognize and reward employees who look ahead in their work and develop new skills

Identify the most important skills to your roles and organization

It’s difficult to overstate how important it is to understand the skills your organization uses and needs. They are building blocks to role requirements, connectors between one role and another, and they are constantly evolving. 

When you understand the skills that will support your organization and its goals, you can build targeted learning and development programs for employees as well as look to those specific skills when searching for candidates outside of your four walls. Using skills allows you to look beyond the job title, degree, and past experience that don't always indicate whether that person is actually a good “fit” for the position.  

Offer a variety of learning opportunities

On-the-job training, mentorship programs, and job shadowing are just a few examples of ways companies can help their employees learn new skills or further develop current skills. As the world of work evolves and skills constantly shift, ensuring that your employees and your organization are equipped to handle the change is crucial. 

Be transparent about promotion opportunities with employees

Companies who understand skill adjacencies can show job seekers that there are opportunities for their skills to be applied in a new context, and those employers will also have access to a larger pool of candidates. Current employees who see their own growth as valuable to the advancement of the company will be more likely to be high performers as well as long-term team members. 

Provide support as employees progress through their careers

It takes commitment for workers to move to new roles or take steps to advance their career. Change, no matter the circumstance, is never simple, so employers should provide support as employees pursue the next steps in their career development. This can include allowing for flexible work schedules and allocating time for learning and development.  

Recognize and reward employees who pursue career development

Everyone wants to feel appreciated and valued. Not only will this encourage employees who are pursuing professional development on their own, it will inspire others to do the same with their careers. People should be able to understand their role in the big picture and how their own progress contributes to achieving company-wide goals.

Career Pathways are based on skills. After understanding the skills your organization’s workforce needs, you can access, build, and retain broader talent pools.

Ready to see how Career Pathways can work for you? Schedule a demo: