A Career Map Gives Clear Directions

Today, more than ever, it is important for people to have a clear career map as they embark on their education and careers. People have hundreds of occupations to choose from, to say nothing of the predictions that in a couple of decades people will work in jobs that haven’t even been created yet. Starting out without a career map is like heading into unknown territory without a GPS or road map.

Career pathways: Five Ways to Connect College and Careers from Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce points out that technology gives us lots of information about the world around us. We can find news about entertainment and restaurants so we can make informed decisions about what to do for fun. And we can find detailed directions and maps to help us get there. But technology doesn’t necessarily help us make important life decisions. “Yet when it comes to navigating education and career pathways, learners and workers mostly have been left on their own, operating with outmoded methods and incomplete information from different sources that are difficult to reconcile and apply toward a particular purpose. This is not the way to equip more Americans with the skills they need in the 21st-century economy, nor offer employers the skilled workforce they demand.”

A career map is an essential tool for today’s workers. According to the Bureau of Labor’s Standard Occupational Classification Policy there are 23 major groups of occupations, and 98 minor groups. Each minor group is broken down into 459 broad occupations. Those broad occupations breakdown into 867 detailed occupation. Detailed occupations have similar job duties, skills and education and/or training. Each worker fits into one detailed occupation classification based on the tasks he or she performs.

While all this detailed breakdown helps people see where they fit into the employment picture, it can also leave people wondering how to get from where they are now to where they want to be in the future. Helping employees establish a solid career map is an important part of an employer tuition assistance plan. A career map that has a long-term plan will help employees evaluate their goals, see the opportunities available and determine how to reach the end goal.

Creating an employee career map involves both input from both the employee and the employer
From the employee:
• A starting point – where the employee is now in their career
• Defined skills and knowledge they possess at this point in their career
• Short and long-term goals. One-year, two-year and longer term goals. The employee has a specific idea of the job they want to have at different times in their career.
• An awareness of skills, knowledge and education they will need to attain to achieve their goal.
From the employer:
• Clearly defined opportunities for career growth. Let employees see opportunities for growth and development.
• Encouragement for employees who seek greater responsibilities and career advancement.
• Career and education counseling and career coaching as part of a tuition assistance plan.

Helping employees to develop a career map is an integral part of an employer tuition assistance plan. Most employees know they want to move ahead in their careers, but often they are don’t know how to start. Employees who feel there is nowhere to go may have low job engagement and satisfaction. But employees who are aware of job opportunities and have a career map will have more positive feelings. When their employer invests in them, they have more to offer the company, they have the opportunity to be part of company growth and development. Beth Linderbaum, VP and principal consultant at Right Management says that expectations of today’s employees are changing. They want opportunities for growth and want employers that will help them follow a career path. She says that it’s important for businesses to have “a talent strategy that helps employees takes ownership of their career while providing support, development and career paths to keep them engaged.”

The Society for Human Resources agrees that a career map helps improve employee engagement. Employees respond positively when employers show interest in helping them reach individual goals. “A career development path provides employees with an ongoing mechanism to enhance their skills and knowledge that can lead to mastery of their current jobs, promotions and transfers to new or different positions. Implementing career paths may also have a direct impact on the entire organization by improving morale, career satisfaction, motivation, productivity, and responsiveness in meeting departmental and organizational objectives.”