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Managing Developers

How to Establish Career Paths for Your Tech Employees

Written By Nicole Littlejohn | June 14, 2024

Career pathing is more than just a human resources buzzword; it’s a strategic approach to employee development that aligns personal ambitions with organizational goals.

For organizations, structured career paths attract top talent and improve retention by offering clear advancement opportunities. For employees, these paths provide a roadmap for professional growth, enhancing job satisfaction and engagement.

So how can you establish solid career paths that benefit the company and employees? This article will cover the benefits of career pathing and provide actionable steps to build effective career trajectories for your tech employees.

Benefits of Establishing Career Paths

For Companies

Attracting Top Talent

In a LinkedIn survey, 59% of tech talent listed career growth opportunities as the top reason they accepted a new role. Companies that showcase clear career advancement opportunities will be better able to attract potential hires to their workforce.

Increasing Retention

Career pathing helps employees visualize their future within the organization, leading to higher job satisfaction and retention. Companies that actively upskill employees reduce turnover and replacement costs. A LinkedIn study revealed that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development. On the flip side, employees who feel their organization has no opportunities for career growth are 12 times more likely to leave.

Improving Business Performance

Structured career paths motivate employees to perform better, leading to significant business benefits. Gallup found that highly engaged teams experience 81% less absenteeism, 18%-43% less turnover, and 23% higher profitability. Employees at tech companies that innovate and grow rapidly are more likely to stay with the company.

For Employees

Professional Growth

Clear career paths provide employees with a professional development roadmap, allowing them to acquire new skills and advance in their careers. According to a report by Deloitte, 71% of millennials expect their employers to provide opportunities for them to develop their skills and move forward in their careers.

Job Satisfaction

Employees feel more valued and engaged when they see opportunities for growth and development within their organization. A survey by the Work Institute found that lack of career development was the primary reason for voluntary turnover, with 22% of employees leaving their jobs for this reason.

Skill Development

Career pathing encourages continuous learning and skill acquisition, making employees more proficient and versatile. A study by the World Economic Forum found that by 2025, 50% of all employees will need reskilling due to changes in job requirements. Providing structured career paths helps employees keep up with these changes, ensuring they remain competitive and valuable within the organization.

Career Stability

Career paths offer employees a sense of stability and direction in their professional lives by providing a clear trajectory. This stability is essential in today’s volatile job market, as it reassures employees that they have a future within the organization. The same Deloitte report indicated that employees who feel their jobs are secure are 42% more engaged and 36% more productive. 

 How to Build Career Paths

1. Assess Your Business Needs

Building career paths starts with evaluating your business’s current and future skill needs. To identify key skill areas to build career paths around, you should:

  • Identify critical roles, succession plans, and emerging job functions. 
  • Create detailed job descriptions for these roles, including the required skills, qualifications, and experience. 
  • Assess departments and teams to identify skill gaps within your organization. This essential step ensures that your career pathing aligns with organizational goals and proactively maintains crucial skills needed for growth.

2. Discuss Career Goals with Employees

Hold regular discussions with your team members to understand their career aspirations. Encourage open dialogue about their short- and long-term goals and identify the skills and future job opportunities each employee seeks. This personalized approach helps create tailored career paths that align with employee ambitions and business needs.

3. Build Career Pathways

Craft detailed career pathways that outline the skills, knowledge, and experience required for each role. Ensure these pathways are flexible, allowing for non-linear progression, as employees in tech often move laterally or across functions based on their interests and the company’s needs. This approach provides clarity and direction, empowering employees to visualize their career trajectories within the organization.

4. Create an Upskilling and Mobility Plan

An internal mobility strategy is a framework that facilitates the transition of employees between roles, departments, or locations within a company. Instead of looking outward when a position opens, companies first assess their internal talent pool. 

Continuous learning is crucial in the tech industry. Develop an upskilling plan that includes:

  • On-the-Job Training: Encourage employees to take on new responsibilities and projects that challenge their skill sets.
  • Online Courses and Certifications: Provide relevant courses and certifications using platforms like HackerRank, Coursera, and Udemy.
  • Conferences, Webinars, and Workshops: Facilitate attendance at industry events to keep employees updated with the latest trends and innovations. These workshops can include sessions with department leaders, interactive activities, and personalized career planning.
  • Mentoring and Coaching: Pair less experienced employees with seasoned mentors to foster knowledge transfer and professional growth.

5. Monitor and Evaluate Progress

Ensure that career pathways remain relevant and up-to-date by regularly reviewing and updating them based on industry trends, technological advancements, and organizational changes. 

Use upskilling tools, presentations, and project evaluations to measure skill improvements. Engage in two-way communication to provide and receive feedback, ensuring that the career pathing process remains dynamic and responsive to changing needs. This keeps the career development process dynamic and aligned with the evolving needs of the business.

6. Reward and Recognize Growth

Acknowledge and reward employees’ progress along their career paths. This can be through promotions, pay increases, or public recognition. Celebrating achievements boosts morale and motivation, reinforcing a culture of continuous development. 

Career pathing is a continuous and evolving process, much like the tech field itself. Regularly revisit and refine your strategies to ensure they remain relevant and effective, driving success for your employees and your business.

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