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Career Mapping Offers a Clear Path for Both Employees and Employers

By Rich Hein, CIO
December 05, 2012 11:07 AM ET

CIO - Career mapping, or career pathing, is a great way to increase employee retention and grow IT talent organically. Often times employees leave their jobs because there is no clear path for them to advance or they are not sure how to rise to the position they desire. Career mapping provides employees and employers with a clear roadmap that outlines what it takes for workers to get from their current position to where they want to be.

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CIO.com interviewed industry professionals to find out how career mapping can add value to your company and keep your employees happy at the same time. It's not easy, warns Mickey Mantle co-author of the new book, "Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams," but it is worth the time and effort.

What Is Career Mapping/Pathing?

From an employer's perspective, career mapping is a way for companies to develop internally the skills needed to achieve future business goals and, along the way, it benefits the company in other ways as well. It shows employees how they can advance in any given organization. It offers clear criteria for advancement. "It's important for tech folks to have a vision of where they are going and what they need to do to get there. That's the essence of career mapping," says Mantle.

Consider it the lattice work of advancement that your company represents. For example, let's say you're new to a company and just starting out in tech support. To advance to shift supervisor, you need one year experience and to have participated successfully on one major project in your group. Things are rarely that cut and-dry in business, but with career mapping they are. It's a way for employees to define the necessary steps to get from job A to job B, and for employers it's a way to grow their own talent in-house. It will also give companies insight into where they have gaps in knowledge and talent.

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Career Map Components

What makes up a career map? According to Steve Hurst, regional manager for IT staffing company Randstad Technologies, "It's a combination of personality profiles, formal education requirements, leadership qualities and capabilities to fit with different positions and levels." Hurst has worked in IT and finance staffing for more than 20 years. Career mapping, he says, includes other items as well such as a skills analysis and a plan to bridge the talent gaps.

Below is an excerpt of some basic career maps from the book, "Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams."

Organizations need to identify the core roles and levels within their organization and then set the criteria on what it takes to advance to these roles. A skills analysis is also necessary to see where you have gaps in your talent.

Pros and Cons of Career Mapping

Larger organizations tend to benefit the most from this method because there are simply more positions and places for people to move. For start-ups and smaller companies, it can be more of a challenge. "If you start off in an entrepreneurial atmosphere with little or no structure, it can be difficult to accomplish structure after the fact. Most people, however, want definition and structure," says Hurst.

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