What is career mapping?   Career mapping is a colorful way of graphically showing on a one-page chart a person’s career progression or development. A typical career map will include a person’s:

  • Job progression over time
  • List of important transferable skills that they acquired at different times in their career to help them advance
  • Pertinent information like degrees, certifications and involvement in volunteer or community activities that help them build skills
  • Short, pithy tag line characterizing their career

Much of the information on a career map is similar to the content you may find on one’s resume, but graphically depicting the career provides a more exciting and visual way of showing key roles and skills. As an example, I have included my own career map below:

Career Map-Stan C Kimer

How can career mapping work within a corporation or organization?  Over the past several years, there have been increasing discussions on employee engagement and retention.  Organizational leaders have been asking with increasing frequency, “Why is our employee engagement at an all-time low?  Why do our best people seem to be leaving?”  One reason is that companies are not doing a good enough job focusing on employee skill development and career growth.  People want to be hopeful about their future and see various paths for growth.  This is especially important to the millennial generation (those born after 1982.)   Millennials often view work within a holistic life framework and seek personal growth and fulfillment on the job.

Assisting their employees with career planning and providing examples of career paths within their company can be one of the key ways for companies to engage their people and get them more enthused about staying and contributing within a company.  One proven process (offered by Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer) is to develop 30 – 40 career maps of a wide range of diverse successful people within the organization, develop organization-specific career success themes based on the maps, and then roll out workshops, webinars  and/or an online package for employees to use for their own career development.

Highlighting actual people often works better than providing contrived or theoretical career paths which often fall flat with employees.  Instead, seeing a wide range of examples of successful people truly resonates with employees who can often find 4 or 5 career maps of people with whom they have things in common, and that provide encouragement and inspiration.  Employees will realize that there may several paths to career growth available in the organization and will not feel derailed when they do not get that next position on a typical career ladder.

How can this work for the individual?  Certainly after viewing other example roadmaps, individuals should be encouraged to develop their own career map showing their career progress and key skills gained to date.  It is a key exercise for people to take the time to inventory the various jobs (and even community and volunteer activities) they have held in their lives and to understand the key skills they built during different times in their careers.  This self-discovery can even uncover skills that a person has minimalized from early in their career, like key client facing skills from a fast-food restaurant job or hotel night clerk position.

Once a person has catalogued their positions and skills, then can start to visualize various future roles they could aspire to using the wide range of skills they have developed.  They can consider multiple routes to getting to their ideal future position and also consider multiple options for growth.  In addition they can identify keys skills that may be missing from their map and put in development and education plans to build those skills.  And companies may then want to take the next step with selected employees and engage a career or leadership coach to assist them with their career journey.

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