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This is a guest piece written in partnership with my colleague and friend, Stan C. Kimer*, the creator of Career Mapping!

Over the past several years, discussions on employee engagement and retention have been increasing among organizational leaders.  More and more, they’re asking: “Why is our employee engagement at an all-time low?  Why do our best people seem to be leaving?”  One reason is that companies are not doing a good enough job focusing on employee skill development and career growth.  People want to be hopeful about their future and see various paths for growth.  This is especially important to the Millennial generation (those born after 1982.)   Millennials often view work within a holistic life framework and typically seek personal growth and fulfillment on the job more than other generations.

Providing employees with examples of successful career paths within their company can be a key way companies engage their people and motivate them to stay, contribute and grow.  Career mapping is an innovative tool I created to do just that.

What is career mapping?  

Career mapping is a colorful, concise way of graphically showing a person’s career progression or development over time.  A typical career map will include a person’s:

  • Job progression over time
  • List of important transferable skills that they acquired at different times in their career to help them advance
  • Pertinent information like degrees, certifications and involvement in volunteer or community activities that help them build skills
  • Short, pithy tag line characterizing their career

Much of the information on a career map is similar to that found on a resume, but graphically depicting the career is a more exciting, visual way of showing key roles and skills.  Compare the reading of my own career map (below) with the lengthy, tedious process of wading through the content of a resume:

career map

How can career mapping work within a corporation or organization? 

One proven process we’ve created to assist organizations involves the following three steps: (1) develop 30 – 40 career maps of a wide range of diverse successful people within the organization through resume review and personal interviews, (2) identify organization-specific career success themes (such as “deep expertise within a particular function”, “generalists that move across multiple businesses and functions”, “willingness to take risks, innovate and lead new areas”) based on the maps, and (3) roll out in person or online workshops that include the organization’s career themes, the career maps, instructions on how to use the maps, and general career development concepts for employees to use.

Highlighting actual people in the organization works better than providing contrived or theoretical career paths which often falls flat.  Seeing a wide range of examples of successful peers and leaders people know resonates with employees who can often find four or five career maps of people with whom they have things in common.  This provides encouragement and inspiration – especially for individuals from historically underrepresented groups.  Employees realize that there may be several paths to career growth available in the organization and don’t feel as derailed when they don’t get that next position on a typical career ladder.

How does this work for the individual? 

After viewing others’ roadmaps, individuals should be encouraged to develop their own career map showing their career progress and key skills gained to date.  It’s eye-opening for a person to inventory the various jobs (including community and volunteer activities) they’ve held in their lives, and  understand the key skills they built during different times in their careers.  This self-discovery can accomplish four things for an individual employee or professional.  One, it can uncover skills from earlier in their career they minimalized – like key client-facing skills from a fast-food restaurant job or hotel night clerk position – they can now communication leverage more effectively.  Two, they can visualize various future roles to aspire to, using the wide range of skills they’ve developed.  They can consider multiple routes to getting to their ideal future position and multiple options for growth.  Three, they can identify key skills that may be missing from their map and implement concrete development and education plans to build those skills.  Fourth, going into a job interview with a colorful one-page graphic depicting past and present positions and key skills will grab a hiring manager’s attention better than a dry text-based resume.

Career Mapping is a colorful, concise and inspirational process for depicting career growth, valuable to both individuals and entire organizations.  Have you been wondering why your employee engagement is low, why your best people are leaving, or how to retain high performing members of underrepresented groups?  Career Mapping may hold not only the answers, but the solution.

Want to learn more, get your individual map done or start Career Mapping in your organization?  Contact Susana Rinderle at

career mapping**Stan C. Kimer is President of Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer, which he started in 2010 after a diverse and successful career at IBM.  He offers his innovative and proven career mapping process to corporations as well as providing diversity consulting services with a specialization in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) workplace and marketplace.  

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