1 July 2024

Career Mapping

Career Mapping 

By Aoife Donovan Lee, Head of Research, and Innovation at Harvest 

July 2024 

In 2024, the primary reason for professionals quitting their jobs is ‘a lack of career advancement.’ This is according to a recent Robert Walters Ireland European study (2024) conducted with over 6,700 professionals in Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland regarding a range of employment-related topics, such as work/life balance, motivation, and mentoring. 

Results from the 2023 CIPD HR Practices in Ireland report tell us that 64% of respondents intend to leave their jobs for ‘better career advancement opportunities.’  With 40% of CEOs saying their business will not be viable in 10 years if skills is not addressed (Collings, McMackin, 2024), organisations must reassess their talent management strategies and take steps to future-proof their human capital agenda.  

Organisations need to look beyond the conventional approaches to talent management, to not only cultivate an engaged workforce where talent is the most important resource but to also assess future skills requirements and skills gaps that exist within their workforce. Career planning is one effective strategy that has become essential for both organisational success and talent development. Understanding and putting the process of career mapping into practice can be extremely beneficial for both organisations and individuals.  

This article will begin by defining ‘career mapping’ before exploring its strategic importance. It will provide examples of organisations that have successfully implemented a career mapping framework, along with practical ideas for HR professionals looking to introduce a career mapping strategy in their own organisations. 

What is Career Mapping?  

Career mapping is a strategic process that helps people in an organisation map out their future career paths. It entails determining the knowledge, experiences, and accomplishments required for professional growth and coordinating these components with the objectives of the company (TalentGuard, 2024). 

This method not only aids in individual career planning but also facilitates the organisation in effectively nurturing and retaining its talent. Career mapping gives people the ability to navigate their professional paths and make well-informed decisions about their futures by providing this systematic framework for career development. 


The Strategic Importance of Career Mapping  

Job roles have been the main foundation for organising work for more than a century. They specify who does what, how management manages it, how hiring, remuneration, career advancement, and performance management are all supported by HR practices. This structure is frequently taken for granted since it is so engrained in organisational functions (Deloitte, 2022). 

Some of the most important goals for contemporary organisations are restricted by limiting work to standardised tasks within a functional job and basing all decisions pertaining to employees on their standing in the organisational hierarchy.  
Organisations are moving towards a ‘Skills First’ approach that puts skills ahead of traditional job titles to overcome these issues. More adaptability and improved alignment with strategic objectives are made possible by this skills-based approach, which promotes a more engaged and diverse workplace (Deloitte, 2022) 

It is time to navigate this shift from jobs to work, and the importance of connecting skills development to a career path to drive people and organisational success. Companies that do this well (through a combination of technology, HR processes, and culture) are the companies that will grow, outperform, and out-innovate their peers (Bersin, 2024) 

Career pathways offer the solution to employee reskilling, retention, and talent recruitment challenges by providing a series of carefully designed development steps, like education, certifications, degrees, learning programmes, gigs, and mentoring to take an individual from their current role to a higher-demand, often higher-paying, job (Bersin, 2022) 

For organisations, implementing a well-structured career mapping process can mean having a workforce that is more motivated and engaged, where workers feel appreciated and equipped to accomplish their objectives. 

Career mapping also becomes a competitive advantage for companies. By identifying high-potential individuals and directing their development, it promotes effective talent management. This makes sure there is a pool of qualified people ready for leadership positions, which facilitates easier succession planning. Career mapping also enables organisations to pinpoint skill gaps and proactively fill them with focused training initiatives. By doing this, the workforce is prepared for the future and the organisation has the talent it needs to meet its strategic objectives. 

Organisation Examples 

A large public sector organisation in service of hundreds of client companies has already begun their career mapping journey by partnering with Harvest. They sought expertise from us to ensure their skills and capabilities are not only fully aligned but  adaptable to what is required now and into the future This will allow the organisation to develop a learning strategy built from capabilities and skills rather than determined by a static competency framework. They will have the right data to simplify, streamline and identify role profiles so they are fit for purpose for the future organisation. We advised the business to use a sophisticated AI Human Resource Information System (HRIS) to enter the collected data. The organisation can then use the HRIS to discover and map out the existing skills inside the organisation for career-pathing, succession planning, and individualised learning and development plans. 

Implementing a Career Mapping Framework  

Assess Current and Future Skills and Competencies: 

Conduct a comprehensive assessment of the existing skills and competencies within your workforce. This can be done through performance reviews, self-assessments, feedback from managers and focus groups. At Harvest, we use a ‘Development Session’ process where we invite team members from the same job family or role level to identify and define the critical skills and competencies for their role level. 

Define Career Paths: 

Outline the various career paths available within the organisation. Clearly define the roles, responsibilities, and the skills and experiences required for each position. This may be done, in part, in the previous step. Ensure that these paths, which can be both vertical and horizontal, are transparent and accessible to all employees. 

Set Individual Career Goals: 

Work with employees to set personalised career goals. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Align these goals with both the employees’ strengths and aspirations and the organisation’s needs. 

Develop Individual Development Plans: 

Create development plans for each employee that include training programmes, mentorship opportunities, and other learning experiences. These development plans should address the gaps identified in the skills assessment and help employees acquire the competencies needed for their desired career paths. A HRIS career pathing tool will also allow for more self-directed career-planning. 

Implement Career Mapping Tools and Software: 

Utilise career mapping tools and software to facilitate the process. These platforms can help visualise career paths, track progress, and provide access to development resources. An advanced HRIS will reduce the amount of labour required when implementing a career mapping framework.  

Regular Feedback and Reviews: 

Establish a system for regular feedback and support. Conduct periodic  

reviews to discuss progress, provide constructive feedback, and make necessary adjustments to career plans.  

Monitor and Adjust: 

Continuously monitor the effectiveness of the career mapping initiatives. Gather feedback from employees and managers to identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments to the career mapping framework. 

Promote a Culture of Continuous Learning: 

Foster a culture that values continuous learning and professional development. Encourage employees to pursue additional certifications, degrees, and training opportunities that align with their career goals. 

By following these steps, organisations can successfully implement a career mapping framework that enhances employee engagement, retention, and overall organisational performance.  


Career mapping is an effective strategic tool that offers substantial advantages to organisations and workers alike. Organisations may cultivate a talented, engaged, and motivated staff that improves overall performance and competitiveness by providing clear career development pathways. Employers may better attract and retain top talent by putting in place a strong career mapping framework, which also guarantees that employees’ personal goals are in line with the organisation’s strategic objectives. Investing in career mapping is now essential for long-term success and growth as we transition to a more dynamic, skills-based, and competitive business environment.