15 Career Pathing Best Practices

What is a best practice when it comes to career pathing for employees?

To help you develop best practices for career pathing, we asked HR experts and business leaders this question for their best strategies. From encouraging collaboration to keeping managers in the loop, there are several pieces of advice that may help you follow best practices in career pathing for employees.


Here are 15 career pathing best practices:

  • Encourage Collaborations to Learn New Skills
  • Communicate a Vision
  • Set Up Individual Check-ins
  • Provide Regular Feedback
  • Define Clear Levels
  • Evaluate Employee Skills
  • Channel Towards Company Goals
  • Implement Consistent Training and Mentorship
  • Develop Your Staff
  • Create a Five-Year Plan
  • Look Beyond Current Skill Sets
  • Get to Know Your Employees
  • Keep Managers in the Loop
  • Exemplify Career Paths 
  • Get Involved in Career Growth


Encourage Collaboration

When it comes to employee career pathing, cross-department collaborations can be key in establishing patterns of growth and encouraging the learning of new skill sets. When employees work with other teams within the company, they can adopt new strategies and even find mentors who are willing to teach them new tech and other capabilities. In the end, this creates more well-rounded employees, who regularly gain the knowledge they need to advance to different roles and achieve higher career goals.

Shaun Price, MitoQ


Communicate a Vision

A best practice when it comes to career pathing for employees is to be proactive and work with your HR department to map out a clear and strategic plan. This way, you can determine what kind of role you want to pursue and how to get there. It’s wise to remember that the right path is not always linear.

You may go back and forth as you gain experience and confidence, or you may discover that working in a particular industry is not a fit. This is why it’s important to be open-minded and adaptable.

From the employee’s perspective, there are some key questions to ask yourself. What are your long-term career aspirations? What are you looking for in a job? How do you want to advance? Be honest with yourself and tailor your search accordingly. Focus on jobs that align with your personal goals and don’t just look at salary when evaluating potential employers. Other factors like company culture, work environment, and opportunities for advancement are much more important in the long term.

Peter Bryla, ResumeLab


Set Up Individual Check-ins

If you’re managing a team, you have the unique and critical responsibility of helping shape and define the career path of your employees. By setting up individual check-ins on a biannually, monthly, or even weekly basis, you’re maintaining an open line of communication for your employees to use as support. Consider using this time to review past goals and create new ones. This is also a great time to provide feedback and discuss anything that can’t be talked about with the team at large. With consistency and patience, these check-ins can constructively shape the career path of your employees. These check-ins can be a rewarding experience for everyone involved.

Hilary Kozak, LivSmooth


Provide Regular Feedback

One best practice when it comes to career pathing for employees is to provide them with regular feedback. This can include one-on-one meetings or conferences with their managers. These meetings give employees an opportunity to discuss their progress and goals within their current role, as well as how they can move forward within the company. Having regular feedback not only gives employees a sense of progression, but it also allows them to voice any concerns they may have about their current position so that the company can help implement a solution.

Admir Salcinovic, Pricelisto


Define Clear Levels

For a career path to be accessible, employees need a map, and a point on the map that tells them, “you are here.” The best way to do this is by clearly and transparently defining career levels within the organization.

Employers should be able to answer the questions, “What levels are available in each career path?” and, “What is expected in one level vs. the next?”

Levels should be defined by scope and experience but also with more nuanced competencies such as execution, communication and collaboration, and balancing the what and the how. The outcome of these level-based expectations are a clearly written, relatable, and useful framework that sparks conversation between managers and employees about their performance and growth.

Rachel Kleban, Rachel Kleban, LLC


Evaluate Employee Skills

Mentors and leaders can be an employee’s best guide in succession planning. They can create a profile, listing all the employee’s strengths and weaknesses. Together, they can map out the path for a future career goal. It will be like laying down the foundation and the steps to reach a certain direction. Assess employees’ skills and capabilities. Earned merits and stock knowledge plus expertise can pave the way for promotion. They may also get extra learning through training and development. The most important part will be their willingness, passion, and dedication. It is vital in pursuing any plans. The end purpose will be hard to achieve without a solid commitment.

Laura Martinez, PersonalityMax


Channel Towards Company Goals

Understand what the mission of the business is and what the future state would need to look like in terms of skills required. What will the business need now, in 3 months, in 12 months, and then in up 3 years? If you cannot confirm this in a concrete way, then maybe look to create projects for employees to have a stint in different teams to expand their skills to execute on deliverables. What conversations can happen between leaders in a peer-to-peer way? This is how it should start; leaders being strategic partners internally.

Then the talent team should work with the leaders to understand the requirements to fulfil these needs and foster a culture of growth and foresight when it comes to swapping talent within or across teams. The talent team should be aware from the leaders what skills each person has and what their plans are for the next stage of their careers. Then connect the dots. Empower employees to be accountable for own their career and the business’s needs.

Joanna McCatty, Protoscience


Implement Consistent Training and Mentorship

A career path maps the route an employee takes from a low-level position through successive roles to arrive at their ultimate goal. Achieving this takes time, patience and limitless training and learning sessions to better yourself career-wise. There is always something new to learn every day, and being enthusiastic to learn makes us holistic and better individuals. You need to identify your training needs and have a mentor to walk with your employees all through the journey. The mentors need to be people who have already gone through the ranks and can guide your way through.

Leah Wanjiku Gathoni, NearbyMovers


Develop Your Staff

So often in the past, when I’ve been assigned a new team, my direct reports are shocked when I take the time to understand their goals and make recommendations on how to achieve them. They are incredibly appreciative, and although it might mean I lose them on my team, the positivity that comes from it creates an environment where they want to do their best while in my employ. 

For example, I had a training manager that was interested in moving to a different role at a higher level. I connected her with my colleagues already filling that role to learn more about the role itself, as well as the skills required. Aside from the obvious benefits, that’s just what leaders do: Develop their staff.

Vickie Johnson, Dream Champions, Inc. – DBA: The Entrepreneur’s Source


Create a Five-Year Plan

When it comes to forging a career path, it’s best to have a clear direction by creating a five-year plan. As they say, it’s not about the speed, but it’s more about the direction you’re going. It is important to make direction crystal clear by creating five-year plans of programs and long-term campaigns. These plans are not just grand in and of themselves; make it a point to make goals ‘SMART’ – sustainable, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.

Also, having a plan for the next five years for your endeavor can help you stay on track and keep you focused. It also helps with accountability, especially when it comes to one’s career. Come to think of it, if you have a career plan you’re sticking with, you’re less likely to get lost and not complete the task at all. It doesn’t matter if you’re a company or an employee; goal-setting with a sense of direction is important if you want to achieve your target.

Franceen San Andres, CocoLoan


Look Beyond Current Skill Sets

I’ve found time and time again that, when interested in a project or initiative, employees are more than able and willing to learn an adjacent skill set. I’ve also seen that in many cases, there isn’t a shining yellow brick road to follow when career pathing; you need to be creative.

Therefore, looking beyond employees’ current skill sets and tapping deeper into what types of challenges they enjoy, you can unlock more career path options for them.

For example, I’ve witnessed an employee who specialized in website building and SEO transition into a role of reporting and data management for a social brand because the opportunity was larger and the role had more upward possibilities. Their immediate skill set wasn’t completely ready for that job, but their director was able to show them why it was better for their career trajectory, and they quickly rose to the occasion.

Kelly Skelton, Backyard Assist


Get to Know Your Employees

Employees that have a clear career path in mind will need support, and those that are uncertain will need guidance and mentorship. One of the best practices is to have regular meetings with your employees to discuss their career path. In these meetings you can set up a training plan that includes mentorship, job shadowing, and attaining skills that will be necessary for the employees to move to the next step in their career. Setting attainable goals during these sessions will ensure your employee has a clear direction and will help you plan ahead for future check-ins.

Liz Hogan, Find My Profession


Keep Managers in the Loop

The best practice to adopt while tracing the career path of an employee is to keep the respective manager in the loop. Managers are well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of an employee. So it’s wise to gather information related to suitable skill, learning level, concentration power, interests, and many other things that are crucial for career pathing. Gathering feedback and putting managers at the center of career pathing works great. But it’s possible only if the manager is providing unbiased reviews or feedback. It’s very crucial. So make sure honesty is at the core of everything.

Ravindra Singh, UKBadCreditLoans


Exemplify Career Paths

Career pathing allows employers to show their employees that their current employment can offer ample growth opportunities with internal promotions. One best practice can be sharing the career path of a current employee as an example. Employers can illustrate how a certain successful employee transitioned from point A to point B within the organization. Make sure these examples also cover cross-functional and lateral transfers. Highlight how these employees worked to attain the core competencies and skills required of them in the next role, and highlight alternative paths for an employee to help evaluate feasible options.

Radhika Gupta, USCarJunker


Get Involved in Career Growth

A best practice for career pathing is to get involved with your employees in the process of their career growth. It’s important to ensure that they’re getting the right training and experience at the right time to grow in their roles and learn new skills over time. You should also consider what you can do as a business owner to help them succeed in their careers—for example, by providing them with regular feedback on how they’re doing or by offering them opportunities to work on projects that will allow them to expand their skill set in a way that benefits both them and your company. Most importantly, take an interest in your employees’ careers and help them progress toward their goals.

Yoav Morder, Sonary



Terkel creates community-driven content featuring expert insights. Sign up at terkel.io to answer questions and get published.hing for employees?