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Career Pathing: a Win-Win Initiative for Organizations and Their Employees

The only thing more important than hiring for employers is retention, including those within the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession.

I have often referred to hiring and retention as “two sides of the same coin.” That is because they are interrelated to the point where one often impacts the other. If an organization is not able to hire well, then they might start to lose their current employees. If another organization is not able to retain their employees, then it might start to have trouble hiring new ones. This underscores the importance of being able to do both—hiring well and retaining employees well.

One way in which to accomplish this goal is through what is known as career pathing.

Career pathing: definition and execution

Career pathing refers to the process of creating a structured plan that outlines an employee’s desired career progression within an organization. It involves setting goals, identifying necessary skills and experiences, and charting a clear trajectory for professional growth.

But how can Animal Health and Veterinary organizations set up career pathing for their employees? Below are seven steps for implementing a career pathing program:

#1—Self assessment

This involves identifying employees’ strengths, interests, values, and long-term career goals. Employees can reflect on their skills, experiences, and areas of expertise, as well as consider their personal and professional aspirations.

This self-assessment helps individuals gain clarity about their career direction and the types of roles and responsibilities that align with their goals.

#2—Research and exploration

Once individuals have a clearer understanding of their career goals and interests, they can conduct research and explore various career paths within their organization. This may involve reviewing job descriptions, speaking with mentors or colleagues, attending informational interviews, or researching industry trends and advancements.

The goal is to gather information about potential career paths, the skills and qualifications required, and the progression opportunities available.

#3—Goal setting

Based on the self-assessment and research, employees can establish specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for their career advancement. These goals should be aligned with their long-term aspirations and take into account the necessary skills, experiences, and qualifications for their desired roles.

Goal setting helps individuals create a roadmap for their career development and provides a clear direction for their efforts.

#4—Skills and competency development

To progress along their chosen career path, employees need to identify the skills and competencies required for their desired roles. This may involve a gap analysis to identify areas for improvement or additional training.

Employees can seek out learning opportunities, such as training programs, workshops, certifications, or academic courses, to enhance their skills and acquire new knowledge. They can also take on challenging assignments or projects to develop and demonstrate their abilities.

#5—Networking and mentoring

Employees can seek out mentors or trusted advisors who can provide guidance, support, and insights into their chosen career paths. Mentors can share their experiences, offer advice, and provide opportunities for growth and development.

Networking with colleagues, leaders, and professionals in relevant fields can also open doors to new opportunities, expand professional connections, and provide valuable insights and perspectives.

#6—Regular check-ins

Employees should schedule periodic meetings with their managers or supervisors to discuss their career goals, review their progress, and seek feedback. These conversations allow for adjustments, identify new opportunities, and ensure that employees stay on track with their career pathing plan.

It is important to maintain open communication and keep the career pathing plan dynamic to accommodate changes and evolving goals.

#7—Continuous learning

Career pathing is not a one-time exercise, but a continuous journey of learning and adaptation. It is important for employees to stay informed about industry trends, technological advancements, and evolving skill requirements.

By engaging in continuous learning and staying adaptable, individuals can position themselves for new opportunities and navigate changes in their chosen career paths.

Benefits for both employers and employees

This is not a one-sided initiative, with the employees gaining all of the benefits. Instead, this is a win-win initiative that benefits everyone. Below are three of the main benefits for employees:

#1—Clarity and direction

Career pathing provides employees with a clear understanding of the skills, experience, and milestones required to advance in their careers. It helps them set meaningful goals and make informed decisions about their professional development.

#2—Engagement and motivation

When employees see a well-defined path for growth, they are more likely to feel motivated and engaged in their work. They gain a sense of purpose, knowing that their efforts contribute to their long-term career progression.

#3—Skills development and continuous learning

Career pathing enables employees to identify the skills they need to acquire or enhance to progress in their careers. Organizations that offer training programs, mentorship, and rotational assignments as part of career pathing initiatives can provide valuable learning opportunities for employees.

There are also three main benefits for organizations that offer career pathing to their employees. They include the following:

#1—Greater employee retention

As mentioned above, offering career pathing opportunities can significantly improve employee retention rates. When employees perceive growth prospects within an organization, they are more likely to stay, reducing turnover costs and preserving institutional knowledge.

#2—Succession planning

Career pathing facilitates succession planning by identifying and grooming internal talent for future leadership positions. This reduces the need to recruit external candidates for critical roles, saving time and resources while ensuring a smoother transition.

#3—Talent attraction

Organizations that promote career pathing stand out as attractive employers to prospective candidates. A well-defined career progression roadmap signals that the organization values employee development and invests in their long-term success.

Note: Stacy Pursell is a Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC) and a Certified Employee Retention Specialist (CERS), one of a handful of executive recruiters and search consultants worldwide who holds the CERS designation. In addition, she is the only executive recruiter in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession to hold both of these certifications. Stacy is a workplace/workforce expert, and her team of recruiters can work to help your organization hire the veterinarians or other Animal Health professionals that it needs to succeed and also help to retain those employees.)

We invite you to find out more about our Veterinary recruiting services for employers and also learn more about our recruiting process and how we can help you hire more veterinarians this year.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of Animal Health and Veterinary organizations. If this is something that you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.

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