How To Make a Career Path Plan

You Owe Yourself a Clear Path and Plan for Success

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Career pathing is the process used by an employee to chart a course within an organization for their career path and career development.

Career pathing involves understanding what knowledge, skills, personal characteristics, and experience are required for you to progress your career ​laterally, or through access to promotions and/or departmental transfers.

Career pathing requires you to take an honest look at his or her career goals, skills, needed knowledge, experience, and personal characteristics. Making a career path plan requires you to obtain what is necessary for each of these areas to carry out your career path.

Key Takeaways

  • A career path plan is the development of a route you want to take to get from one job and title to another in the future.
  • The plan helps map out different skills and experiences you may need before you can earn promotions or work at certain levels.
  • A career path plan can apply to you while working at one company, or it can be applied to your entire career across multiple companies.

You Owe Yourself a Career Path Plan

Are you reaping the benefits of a thoughtfully developed, written, employer-supported career path plan? Creating a career path is an essential component of your lifelong career management and success.


A career path plan is also a critical factor in performance development planning (PDP), in which a supervisor and reporting employee meet to discuss and plan developmental opportunities for the employee. The PDP is important because it is written, shared with the supervisor, generally tracked by the organization for effectiveness, and reviewed quarterly (recommended) or, at least, regularly.

The performance appraisal, in some organizations, is also an opportunity for career pathing. Career pathing is also perceived, in organizations with a formal process, as having institutional support.

The career path encompasses both your desired destination and the steps, experience, and development you will need to make progress on the journey. A career path gives you a sense of direction, a way to assess career progress, and an opportunity to achieve career goals and milestones along the way.

Developing a career path is easier, and more supported, in an organization that has a PDP process, or an effective performance appraisal or career planning process.

You can, however, as an individual employee, make your own career path plan. You are the individual for whom the career path is the most important. You deserve a thoughtful career path plan.

How To Develop a Career Path

You can develop a career path by taking a look at your desired job/jobs within your organization. Then, chart a course through jobs and departments, with the help of your supervisor or manager and human resources staff, that is the most likely career path that will let you achieve your goal.

Recognize that obtaining the job you desire may require lateral moves, departmental transfers, and job promotions along the way if you are to achieve your goal. For example, if you would like to be a director, but your current department doesn't have that role, you may want to switch teams laterally now so that you can work hard to earn promotions and grow into a director in the future.

Attaining your desired goal will also require that you develop skills, pursue employee development opportunities, and obtain certain experiences—like people management, presentations, strategy, and project management—as you progress along your career path through your organization.


Coaching from your supervisor and mentoring assistance from a more experienced employee, probably an employee with a position above yours on the organizational chart, will help.

3 Additional Things To Consider When Developing a Career Path Plan

You Need To Decide on Your Career Goals and Desired Jobs

While coaching and mentoring may help you arrive at several possible career options, completing career exploration is your own task outside of work. You can contact career professionals at your college career services offices, local community colleges, or research online where career information and career tests and quizzes abound.

Put Your Career Path Plan in Writing

If you are lucky enough to work within an organization that has an employee performance and/or career development process, the written plan is an integral component. If not, put your own plan in writing and share it with your supervisor, human resources, and involved others. Writing down your goals is an integral part of achieving them.

You Own Your Career Path Plan

You can seek assistance from others, but you are the fundamental recipient of the rewards earned by following a planned career path. You are responsible for seeking a mentor, applying for internal job openings, and developing the skills and experience necessary for you to achieve your goals. Never forget this significant fact: you own your career path plan. No one will ever care as much as you do.

How To Support Effective Career Path Planning and Development

If you're a manager, your employees want to see and understand the next opportunities within their company. This is especially important for ambitious employees who want and expect to see career development opportunities to be satisfied and motivated at work.

A thoughtful career path plan is a key factor in employee engagement and employee retention. An organization contributes to an employee's ability to develop a career path by making the knowledge, skills, experience, and job requirements for each position within the company transparent. With this information, the employee can plan and prepare for various jobs and opportunities.

The organization supports employees in developing and pursuing a career path by providing access to opportunities and information such as job descriptions, an internal job application process, mentoring, promotions, and more. With access to these processes and systems, every employee should have the opportunity to pursue a career path.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you choose a career path?

Mentors and organizational charts are helpful tools and resources when you are working to choose a career path. A mentor in your company, or elsewhere, can offer guidance and advice from their own career path and experience, such as skills they learned that helped them get a promotion. An organizational chart will also help you see the different roles and how they work together so you can decide which direction you want to move in.

How is a career path different from a job?

A career path is the route you will take to achieve different job titles and roles within a company or your overall career. Jobs fall into your career path, and you may hold several different jobs and have different job titles at various companies as you follow your career path.

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  1. Ohio Means Jobs. "Career Path."

  2. Office of Financial Management. "Performance Planning and Evaluation."

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