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Career Maps, Career Paths, or Career Matrix: What are they?

A career map is a tool that outlines the steps and milestones an individual should reach to advance in their chosen career path. It can include information about required education, skills, and experience, as well as job titles and responsibilities associated with different career stages. Career maps can be helpful for both employees and employers, as they provide a clear picture of the path to advancement and the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a given field.

Career Path

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A career path refers to the sequence of jobs, roles, and positions an individual holds throughout their work life. It is the progression or advancement of an individual's work experience in a particular field, industry, or area of expertise. Career paths can vary greatly, depending on the individual's personal goals, interests, skills, and the opportunities available in the job market. A career path can be linear, with a clear progression from entry-level roles to management positions, or it can be more varied, with frequent changes in direction or industry. Additionally, a career path can be both planned and unplanned, as individual and circumstantial factors can influence and alter the direction.

Career Matrix

A career matrix, also known as a career lattice, is a tool used to map out different career paths within an organization. It typically includes distinct levels of positions or roles within the company, along with the corresponding skills, knowledge, and experience required to advance from one level to the next. The career matrix can also provide information on the types of training or education essential for advancement and the typical career path for employees in that particular field or industry. The purpose of a career matrix is to help employees understand the various career paths available to them within the company and identify the steps they need to take to advance their careers. It also helps the management and HR department in the organization to predict and plan for the internal mobility of the employees and to define a clear development plan for them.

Tips for creating a career path

Creating career paths for employees can be a complex process, but there are some general steps you can take to develop effective career paths for your organization:

  1. Assess the current state of your organization: Look at the current structure and hierarchy of your organization and identify the different roles and positions that currently exist. Consider what skills and experience are necessary for each position, and how they relate to one another.
  2. Identify potential career paths: Based on the roles and positions currently in your organization, identify prospective career paths that employees could take. Consider the skills, experience, and education required for each job and how they build on one another.
  3. Define clear milestones and requirements: For each career path, define clear milestones and criteria workers must meet to advance. It might include specific education or training, job performance metrics, or years of experience.
  4. Provide development opportunities: Provide opportunities for employees to develop the skills and experience they need to advance along their chosen career path. It might include training programs, mentoring, or opportunities for job shadowing.
  5. Communicate the career paths to employees: Communicate the career paths available to employees, and make sure they understand the requirements and milestones they need to meet to advance.
  6. Continuously review and adjust: Continuously review and adjust the career path based on the changes in the organization, market, and industry, as well as employee feedback. Ensure the career path aligns with the company's objectives, goals, and growth plan.

It's worth noting that there may not always be a clear or direct path, and employees may move in different directions or take on a non-linear path. Encourage employees to take ownership of their career development and provide them with the resources they need to chart their courses.

Components of a career map

A career map generally includes four main components:

  1. Job Titles: A list of job titles that correspond to different levels of the career path, such as entry-level, mid-level, and senior-level positions.
  2. Responsibilities: A description of the key responsibilities and duties associated with each job title, which can be used to evaluate employee performance and determine if an employee is ready for advancement.
  3. Skills and Qualifications: A list of the skills and qualifications required for each job title, which can be used to identify training and development opportunities for employees.
  4. Milestones and Timeframe: A list of milestones that need to be met, along with the expected timeframe for achieving them, such as the completion of a training program, a certain number of years in a specific role, or a certain performance level. This can help employees to understand the steps needed to reach a desired position and also help the management to plan for internal mobility.

Reasons to create a career planning map

Here are several reasons why organizations may choose to create a career planning map for their employees;

  1. Employee Retention: By providing employees with clear career paths, organizations can help them to see the potential for advancement within the company, which can increase motivation and engagement, leading to improved employee retention.
  2. Succession Planning: A career planning map can help organizations identify and develop future leaders by providing a clear understanding of the skills and qualifications required for key roles.
  3. Talent Management: A career planning map can help organizations to manage talent by identifying high-potential employees and providing them with the training and development opportunities they need to advance.
  4. Improved Employee Performance: By setting clear milestones and expectations, organizations can help employees to focus on specific goals and improve their performance.
  5. Cost Savings: Investing in the development of employees through career planning can help organizations to avoid the high costs associated with recruiting and training new employees.
  6. Align to Business Strategy: Career paths can be aligned with the business strategy and goals. This can lead to a workforce that has the right skills and experience to help the organization achieve its objectives.
  7. Enhancing employee engagement and satisfaction: A career map can provide clarity and direction to employees on their growth prospects and career development, this can lead to an increase in engagement and satisfaction among employees.
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