Kasey LynchJanuary 27, 2023
Topics: Employee Experience

How to Build an Effective Career Pathing Framework

Today’s job seekers and employees are looking for opportunities where they feel supported and encouraged to evolve. 


This shift in priority puts pressure on organizations to provide more learning and development opportunities, personalize experiences, and improve visibility across the organization. Although this may seem like a big ask, it’s mutually beneficial for the success of both the employee and employer. 


The main issue? The employee journey isn’t linear. 


Each individual employee faces their own unique challenges and set of decisions that influence what their career path could look like. To help keep employees engaged along their unique journey, organizations have the opportunity to define and deploy career pathing frameworks

What is a Career Pathing Framework?


A career pathing framework is a structured set of guidelines that provide clarity surrounding the skills and experience needed to progress from one role to another within an organization. 

Career pathing frameworks will illuminate common paths within an organization — picture a junior software developer progressing to a software developer and later, a senior software developer — but will also present non-traditional paths that highlight shared skills that help make an individual a good fit for a related role. For example, a product marketer transitioning to a product manager role. 

Related Resource: The Path of Least Resistance: Aligning Opportunity and Trajectory for Successful Employee Career Pathing


An effective career pathing framework can take employees from uncertainty to clarity, removing any confusion about what their path at your company could look like. It’s also a valuable tool to better understand company needs, optimize training costs, and support performance reviews. 


Here are 5 things to consider when building a career pathing framework for your business. 


1. Take inventory of critical roles and determine business goals 

Looking at an entire organization’s roles and responsibilities sounds daunting, but it’s an invaluable first step to take when creating an effective career pathing framework that drives positive results across the business. 


Executives should look at current filled positions, job descriptions, responsibilities, and typical career progression paths. Next, business leaders need to assess organizational goals and ensure the current required jobs throughout the enterprise align with those goals. Without clear alignment, it’s difficult to implement career pathing frameworks that will help the business progress in the right direction. 


Gaining a better understanding of how your business is organized and posed to achieve your desired milestones will help create a good foundation for a career pathing framework. 


2. Assess skill and competency gaps and upskilling opportunities

Skills gaps provide unique insights into the skills your workforce possesses and which areas have room for improvement. Ideally, your workforce’s skills and company goals should be aligned — meaning your workforce has the expertise necessary to achieve business milestones. 


When approaching areas for improvement, leadership can assess who is available internally to upskill and fill that gap or they can make an informed decision surrounding an external hire to support company goals. Additionally, this is where managers and team leads can step in. 


Related Resource:
CHROs Can Nurture Employee Growth Through Skills. Here's How.

By recommending courses and short-term projects or gigs to their direct reports, employees can gain new skills and simultaneously close critical gaps in the business. Ensuring key stakeholders can work together toward a common goal is an ideal approach to a career pathing framework. 

3. Map common career pathing progressions 

Once you have a better understanding of what jobs, skills gaps, and upskilling opportunities exist within your business, it’s important to start looking at potential career path progressions. This will be the selection of career paths that are available within your company.


For example, if a sales representative wanted to become an executive account manager, what steps would they have to take to get there? 


During this exercise, you should look at a combination of roles and titles, required training at each level, projects or gigs to assist in career progression, mentorship opportunities, and other opportunities for development. 


Holistically looking at available career paths and supportive learning at each step will help illuminate potential journeys each employee can take to get where they want to be at your company. 

4. Improve employee development options for hands-on learning

Another key element in a successful career pathing framework is hands-on learning opportunities. 


Leadership should evaluate the current available learning and development opportunities and assess engagement. If your existing L&D offerings aren’t being taken advantage of, dig deeper to find out why. Understanding existing hurdles can help you create an improved experience that supports your new career pathing framework. 


Here are some questions to consider when assessing your existing offerings:

  • How often are your employees engaging with your current offerings?

  • Do they drop off at particular points within the L&D program?

  • Is your current employee development program easily accessible?

  • Does your program integrate with other platforms for a holistic approach?

  • Do you offer mentoring opportunities?

  • Does your employee portal offer recommended courses? 

  • What company learning courses are available to employees?

  • Do those courses align with company goals?

  • Can employees apply for short-term projects or gigs?

  • Do managers have the ability to recommend courses within your employee portal? 


The best way to ensure your career pathing framework is actionable is by determining what tools are available to support your employees on their unique journey. These tools should tie into employee performance reviews and feedback loops so managers and employees can assess what steps are being taken to progress along their desired career path. 


Pro Tip
: By implementing a talent marketplace, employees can visualize their career path and then take action to make that next career step a reality. 

5. Make career paths visible for employees, managers, and leadership 

It’s not enough to create career paths that employees can get excited about. Involving managers and improving visibility for leadership are critical elements of this process, ensuring all key stakeholders can work together toward a common vision. 


Another critical element to this part of the process is to ensure that career pathing frameworks are rolled out in an easy-to-consume format. This looks different for every organization but it’s important to think about what that looks like for your teams. 


Once implemented, managers should have access to their direct reports' career paths so they can help encourage talent to acquire the skills they need to progress. Knowing what the next steps might look like, managers can take a more hands-on approach to inquire about an employee's goals and ideal career path — including whether they can picture themselves staying at your organization or looking elsewhere for opportunities. 


Knowing where their team members want to go, managers can recommend courses, gigs, or mentoring opportunities, creating a stronger relationship that supports employees on their career path. 


As these interactions happen across the entire organization, leadership can gain a better understanding of who is available and willing to upskill to fill critical roles within the company. Being able to look at where the workforce is today makes planning for the future more realistic and predictable. 


Related Resource: 6 Elements for a Meaningful Employee Experience


To support this kind of company-wide visibility, consider implementing a talent marketplace or employee experience platform. With career pathing features and data insights, this step in creating a career pathing framework becomes simple and adaptable as your business grows. 

Accelerate your career pathing framework implementation with Phenom


Building a career pathing framework that enables you to support employees, engage managers, and provide leadership with invaluable insights can make a positive impact on the current and future state of your business. 


With employees searching for opportunities that support their unique growth, it’s important to find a solution that can evolve as your employees evolve. Phenom Talent Marketplace is specifically designed to support career development — outfitted with internal mobility features, learning and development opportunities, mentoring programs, and more. 


Explore all Phenom Talent Marketplace has to offer in
this on-demand product tour

Kasey Lynch

Kasey is a content marketing writer, focused on highlighting the importance of positive experiences. She's passionate about SEO strategy, collaboration, and data analytics. In her free time, she enjoys camping, cooking, exercising, and spending time with her loved ones — including her dog, Rocky. 

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