How can Defined Career Paths Help with Recruitment
Having clear career paths and career ladders within a company has a number of benefits. The obvious one is that it provides a framework for existing staff to progress their career, learn new skills and continue to be challenged. But there are less obvious benefits worth paying attention to.
Consider for a moment how these career paths are perceived externally, by people outside the company. Having clear career paths is generally a good thing. But that doesn't mean every company gets it right every time.
For example: some companies have such rigid career paths that it stifles performance as it prevents them from leveraging their employee’s strengths. It also can reduce flexibility for managers to reward high performers with a better salary, which might result in losing these people.
The other pitfall many fall into is setting the wrong criteria for how employees can achieve what is required to move along the career path or ladder.
For example: if a company adopts a review system where, once a year, a Manager gives each team member a number between 1-5 and can only give a certain number of 5’s, this will undoubtedly result in a loss of employee engagement and motivation.
I say this because an employee will likely play ‘politics’ to position themselves for that number and it will drive a culture of ‘ass covering’ and climbing on top of people to move up the ladder rather than helping each other up along the way. Overall performance will drop and retention levels will rise.
All of these things are noticed outside of the business. Word of mouth travels fast and websites like Glassdoor are platforms for disgruntled employees or former employees to be heard. So you have to find the balance between having overly rigid career paths that actually hinder people’s growth and employee satisfaction and not having any real direction for employee’s to feel that they are on a path to development.
For people on the outside looking in, particularly potential future employees, career paths are a really important reflection on how attractive it would be to work there. We see it all the time in GemPool. Our candidates want to know what the potential for growth and career development is within a company.
So, while the definition of career paths is very much an internal consideration for employee’s, it actually has a huge impact on a company's ability to attract talent. Overly cumbersome career paths or overly vague, and you might miss out on a hire that could transform your business.
Here are my top three tips for leveraging your company career paths to attract better talent
Be authentic: There is literally nothing worse than overselling a role by promising career paths to a potential hire during the interview process and it not being real when that person starts working within the business. This will really drive down that employee’s performance, and likely they will leave within 12 months. Make sure to be transparent and open about what the career path looks like for that candidate.
Share stories: Why not tell a candidate about your own career path during the interview to demonstrate what opportunities exist for them. If not your own career path, then one or two other members of the team. Making the career paths real and tangible will have a huge impact.
Pro tip: Another good thing to do is to put some of these stories up on your careers section of your website (potentially in video form) so that people can see what people inside the company have been able to experience while working there.
Encourage all your employees to keep LinkedIn updated with each new role they have worked within the company. This is a great way for someone to see the career path.
Many just leave one role up and forget to show they may have moved from, for example, a Software Engineer into a Senior into a Lead. The timelines also give a sense of how long it might take for the reader to achieve the same progress themselves.
Map it out: Give a candidate a clear sense of what the first three years of their employment will look like. This is not just about earning power though. This is about skills they will get to learn, the enhanced responsibilities they take on and the titles too.
For many companies, the structure is very flat as the company might not be big enough to have clearly laid out career paths. That's fine too. But you should be able to talk to a candidate about the growth plans of the company, and how their potential role/team/division will evolve and how you envision their role developing over time.
The defining of career paths are certainly for internal use, but the importance of these for attracting talent cannot be underestimated. Put careful thought into how you can show off these attributes of your business to the outside world.
If you ever want to talk about career path development for your business, please just get in touch and I would be happy to help any way I can. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you.
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