Career path planning is the process of identifying and mapping a course of action within an organization that will help you as an employee to achieve your career goals. It involves a number of similar groups of job/roles that use the same skills. A career path can be linear or non-linear in nature. This means that you can start from an entry level and move up the ladder while still changing departments within an organization. The whole process of planning a career path involves identifying and understanding which skills, personal attributes, knowledge, and experience are required to progress either laterally or through promotions.

Why is career path planning important to an employee

  • It gives you a wide skill base
  • Through planning you learn ways to improve your current and future performances
  • You identify and learn skills that are more necessary and specific to your goals
  • It acts as a guiding principle, helping you find purpose and fulfillment in your role
  • Through planning, you determine your current skills, abilities, and strengths

Tips to planning a career path

Decide the path before making the plan

Make your own exploration of the available roles and choose the most desirable one. While coaches and mentors will help you with suggestions and ideas, the final decision lies with you. Choose a path that clearly aligns with your goals.

Own your career path plan

You are the hard worker and the receiver of the rewards. You are responsible for the training you need, seeking mentors and applying for internal job openings. Remember that although your organization may create a favorable environment for growth, they will not care about your career plan as much as you do.

Put your path plan in writing

Most companies provide an employee performance or development process, which incorporates the written plan. However, if your company does not offer such, write your own plan and share it with your supervisor, human resource, or the department manager.

The process of planning for a career path

1. Identify your desired job/roles within the organization

Having identified and listed your goals, engage your supervisor in identifying the roles within the organizations that will help you achieve your goals. Be open-minded as this task may involve changing departments, working through difficult tasks, seeking promotions, or even settling for a lower job level.

Having identified the job/role, study it in detail to know the tasks, and its description. You can do this by seeking help from other experienced employees or requesting to shadow your employer during your free time.

2. List the skills you need to get to that role/job

The next step is listing your current strengths, abilities, or capabilities against the job requirements. List out the skills you need to improve on and the new skills that you need to learn. Chart out a course of action on how you are going to get these skills. This includes committing yourself to an extra learning hour daily, asking colleagues to inform you of new learning opportunities, and pursuing employee development opportunities.

3. Seek training, coaching or mentorship

After identifying the skills and experience needed, be patient but aggressive in your learning approach. Prioritize the most important skills and learn them first. They will be your power points. Seek career coaches, mentors, and career role models to help you avoid potential pitfalls in your learning and career planning. Identify people who have taken the same path as you and request for tips and direction.

4. Seek out for opportunities

The problem with most employees is waiting to perfect their skills so that they can apply for a position. Unfortunately, you will never be perfect because there will always be new skills to be learnt each day. Start applying for opportunities after you have gained mastery in the most important skills. Otherwise, you will see people with half your skills taking up positions and being efficient in them. Employment is always a learning moment.

Finally, after developing a plan and working on it, be confident in your own plan and training. Believe that you have the capability and ability to deliver irrespective of your gender, age, race, physique, or geographical location. You can go as far as your confidence.