A person holding a map at the beginning of a wooded trail

Career Mapping Best Practices That Will Improve Retention

June 02, 2020 Employee Experience
Kaya Ismail
By Kaya Ismail

Today’s employees are more likely to switch jobs multiple times during their careers than in the past. In fact, Indeed discovered that more than 75% of job seekers have been approached by another employer while they were already employed, and 99% said they’d be willing to take an interview with them.

With professionals often choosing to take roles at a different employer rather than seeking job growth within their current organization, how can employers retain talent?

What Is Career Mapping?

“In essence, career mapping is the process whereby businesses design and implement methods for employees' advancement within the company,” said Jagoda Wieczorek, HR manager at ResumeLab. Most career maps include job descriptions, skill set requirements, personality profiles and the necessary training to excel in a position.

“Career maps, from an organizational perspective, are composed of information about how people move throughout the company,” said Loralie Thostenson, SVP, technology talent officer at Liberty Mutual Insurance. Documenting roles and career paths within the organization helps business leaders get a holistic view of their workforce to determine what skills and capabilities are desirable now and will be in the future.

Why Career Mapping Is Valuable

“First of all,” said Pete Sosnowski, VP of people and co-founder at Zety, “creating clear and structured career maps helps prevent employees from asking for a raise or promotion out-of-the-blue.” 

With clear career paths, employers can better predict the costs associated with their workforce in the future. “On the other hand,” he added, “employees are provided with clear and fair instructions on what exactly they need to do to progress in their careers and how long it will take them to get there.” That means transparent career maps can motivate employees to achieve established milestones.

“Employees hate to be stuck in a rut,” Wieczorek said. If they’re not continually growing or able to see advancement in their future, they’ll lose motivation and may even look to opportunities at other companies. “That's why companies should spend every ounce of their energy to help employees grow professionally with the help of a robust career map.” Career maps can help retain employees and bring stability to the workforce.

Career Mapping Best Practices

While career mapping can benefit most organizations, it’s crucial that companies follow some best practices to make the most impact.


Many organizations believe role descriptions and career maps need to have an abundance of detail in order to be effective. Often, however, an overload of information creates too much bureaucracy or structure which limits a talented employee’s ability to advance. “Keeping the map as simple as possible without it becoming overly generic is critical,” Thostenson said, “so that it is both usable for individuals and adaptable to their specific situation.”


“It is good to have employees involved in the creation process,” said Sosnowski. By working together, employees and managers can build a career map that’s challenging and achievable at the same time. 

“Many companies make these career maps available to everyone,” Sosnowski continued, “this may help control workplace politics and unhealthy competition.” Transparent career maps also allow organizations to recognize successful careers and highlight employees as role models for others.


When creating career maps, it’s easy to determine the tangible skills necessary for a role, but communication skills and cultural fit are also important. “For organizations that are creating career maps for technical roles,” Thostenson said, “they absolutely must include a view of the soft skills required for success.” She believes these soft skills are often a key differentiator between good contributors and “superstar” talent.


“With the pace of change in the industry today,” Thostenson said, “I believe it is more important for the organization to have a point of view on how you need the talent to move and progress in your organization going forward.” 

When creating career maps, it’s great to share how successful careers were built in the past, but organizations also need to understand that today’s work environment could be much different.

“Ultimately, the best outcome from a career map is a talented and diverse workforce,” Thostenson concluded, “who have the depth of skills to be versatile contributors to their teams and to the company.” A partnership between employees, managers and the company to map career growth is one of the best ways to attract and retain talent in today’s rapidly changing workforce.


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