Kasey LynchOctober 13, 2023
Topics: Employee Experience

Career GPS: Guiding Employees Through the Skills Landscape

Career pathing is a critical aspect of employee development and organizational success, guiding employees through their professional journeys, helping them set meaningful goals, and providing opportunities for skill enhancement.

However, the effectiveness of career pathing hinges on a deep understanding of skills ontology — the systematic analysis and categorization of skills within an organization.

On this episode of Talent Experience Live, John Deal and Devin Foster break down their own career paths at Phenom to help explain how a skills ontology enables employers to identify the core competencies required for various roles and anticipate the evolving skills landscape.

Keep reading to get their perspectives or watch the full episode below. 

What has your career path at Phenom been like?

We’ve said it before: Today’s career ladder is really more of a career lattice. Employees don’t move in a straight line. 

That’s definitely been true for Deal and Foster, who both have shifted into multiple positions in different departments during their time at Phenom. 

Deal began in Product Management and, four years and four roles later, is now Senior Director of Product Marketing. His drive to keep learning has superseded his desire to climb a traditional career ladder. “My perspective has changed,” he said. “It’s less about, ‘what’s my next title going to be,’ [instead, it’s] ‘what things can I learn to keep my job interesting every day?’”

Meanwhile, Foster joined Phenom as a Sales Development Representative (SDR), which traditionally might lead to becoming a Director of Sales, then possibly a Vice President of Sales. 

But today, he’s happy in his role as Senior Digital Content Producer and Social Media Manager after an unexpected skill emerged, leading him to Phenom’s Marketing team. When he was employed as an SDR, he turned to social media, creating HR-related social posts and memes to connect with like-minded individuals on LinkedIn. Phenom’s Marketing team noticed and invited him to continue creating content as a formal job duty. 

He also brought his knowledge of the HR industry, technology’s value propositions, in-person networking, and product pitching to the Marketing team, helping to foster a better understanding of how the technology can impact Phenom customers. 

Using Phenom’s Workforce Intelligence technology 

Both Deal and Foster emphasize that they’ve benefited from using Phenom Career Pathing, which includes an AI-supported skills ontology to match upskilling opportunities to employee goals and aspirations. 

“Historically, a lot of people would say that they had to leave a company in order to find their next role. I am very fortunate in that I’ve been able to find new roles on my own,” Deal said. “We use our HR software internally. It really does make things a lot easier.” 

With powerful skills ontology capabilities, the platform helps employees quantify at a glance all that they’ve accomplished and learned, while also providing visibility to others throughout the organization. 

How can workforce intelligence software differentiate an organization?

Traditionally, employees gain recognition for the deliverables for which they’re held accountable, Foster pointed out. But a workforce intelligence platform allows employees to showcase skills they’ve gained through hobbies, side work, or cross-departmental assignments. 

“The ability to surface your skills within a workforce intelligence [platform] and then be floated to the top for a role you didn’t know you could be considered for…that’s the beauty of this sort of technology,” Foster said. 

Workforce intelligence capabilities can boost retention by helping create the kind of culture where employees know they can thrive — and will be more likely to seek a new position internally. Companies like this become known as a place for personal and professional growth rather than just a place to get a paycheck, Foster later added. “It’s exciting for companies to have that reputation.”

Demonstrating that growth and opportunity is woven into the organization’s culture is “the human side of giving people visibility,” Deal said. “And that’s our main point here. Don’t skimp on the human side, but don’t forget to supplement the human side with technology.”

What role does AI play?

AI is integral to the functionality of workforce intelligence technology like Phenom’s platform. “One of the beautiful things that AI can do is find trends that [humans] can’t. It’s chewing through a ton of data,” Deal said.

AI helps infer how an employee’s skills could translate to job roles or bridge gaps in different departments that the employee may never have considered. “Skills are changing so rapidly that the only way to keep up with them and create a skills ontology for your organization is to leverage artificial intelligence,” Foster said.

Partly for this reason, employees should never avoid adding skills to their profiles — even if they fear boxing themselves into a role they don't love. “It’s not something you should view as a detriment, because you’re constantly learning…even though you might have hated cold calling, that skill set is there,” Deal said, and AI can help find connections to other applicable roles.  

Will skills take precedence over job titles in the future?

Ultimately, success will depend on an employee’s skill set rather than a job title — as well as the way they apply that skill set in an organization.

“When we talk about navigating career paths and navigating the skills landscape, that’s what we’re talking about. You are no longer just a collection of titles, you are now also these skills,” Deal said. “Organizations really need to think about that. If you’re still just looking at job titles, then you’re missing out on a lot.”

Find out how you can leverage workforce intelligence to better understand your employees’ skills by downloading our comprehensive guide now

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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