Introduction to Retention:  How to Incorporate Career Pathing into Your Recruitment Marketing Strategy

What is “career pathing”?  If a reader happened to peruse our blog about Quiet Hiring (see our post from March 24, 2023), one can see a trend of looking inward for talent, instead of trying to recruit from outside the organization, has been growing this year.  Quiet hiring is a way for businesses to shift employees around to focus them on high priority projects and tasks, and it can be extremely beneficial to companies who are either struggling with smaller recruitment budgets or for businesses that are having trouble finding the right candidates to fill important positions. 

While researching quiet hiring, though, one of the aspects that kept creeping up was implementing a strategy called “Career Pathing.”  In the quest for more knowledge on the subject, it has been uncovered that some recruiters and Human Resources experts have been using career pathing for some time now.  Others who study the job market are now urging supervisors and managers to look into this practice, saying that it would be incredibly helpful to start programs to facilitate this at their own companies. 

With quiet hiring, a company takes an employee and moves them to where the need is the greatest.  There may be communication between the two parties about the changes, but quiet hiring is to help a company out that is struggling to meet its needs.  However, by using career pathing, employers and employees can work together to create and implement plans for up-skilling and re-skilling to be ready for a move up in the company.  This planning takes place years in advance, preparing for both the good and the bad times that could be ahead for any business.  While the two concepts may seem similar on the surface, understanding the differences can be extremely beneficial to managers seeking to plan for every possible need a business may have.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…”

When discussing quiet hiring and career pathing, it is not uncommon to see the phrases used interchangeably by some writers.  However, as stated above, these are two distinctly different strategies.  The best way to clearly delineate them is to show how career pathing is great for employees, and then show the benefits to employers.  It cannot be stressed enough that it is important for employees and employers to work together to create a career path; this is the best way for both sides to push their company forward by improving the employees’ morale and by boosting the rate of employee retention. 

For Employees:

There are three main benefits of career pathing for employees, according to Emeritus.  The first is career advancement.  By planning out a route for moving up in a company, employees are showing initiative and giving employers a clearly defined way to help them develop the skills needed to move forward.  Not every career pathing move is upward, though.  Some of the moves are lateral, but each one should lead to learning new things, which leads into the second benefit, receiving extra training and skills.  Knowledge is truly power, and those that realize that early never stop learning.  While some companies believe that people can be overqualified for a job, that idea can’t compete with an employee that is willing to learn every new skill available to make their lives, and their manager’s lives, easier. 

Finally, there is the opportunity to be a coach or mentor to other employees coming up behind them.  Once an employee and supervisor have come up with a path, then it makes sense to show other employees and have them create their own plan to career pathing.  Mentoring others not only helps them, but also shows dedication by the worker, who may be eligible for more promotions or upward moves because of it. 

For Employers:

With retention being at the forefront of most companies’ minds these days, career pathing is an excellent way to retain the brightest talent.  Coincidentally, retention is one of the reasons Emeritus gives for businesses needing to implement a career pathing strategy.  Another reason is increased employee engagement.  This, along with the final one, greater workplace productivity, are both great ways to boost employee morale and motivation.  According to Forbes, 63% of workers experience, or have experienced, a burnout.  However, employees that feel like they are being invested in by their company are more likely to stay and, what’s more, stay with a positive vibe, avoiding the potential for burnout and quiet quitting. 

This is also another way that companies can prepare for the future.  No one knows what comes next when it pertains to technology and how it could (and will!) change the way people work, but when a company has engaged and happy employees, it also improves the company brand.  This will help fill the funnel of prospective candidates when a business is ready to hire again.    Assisting employees with learning new skills develops an entire organization that is forward thinking and far more prepared to meet the challenges ahead. 

How to Start Career Pathing at Your Company

Some companies have already started developing their own methods for career pathing.  For those wishing to start on their own strategies, there are a few tips below:

  • Start simple and create the framework for what the company needs and wants included in their career pathing plan.
  • Start with a single job family.For example, take a sales department and create career pathing plans for those employees.Use that template to complete other departments/families.
  • Make sure to consider compensation for employees who are willing to put more time and effort into their job and their development to move the business forward.
  • Find mentors who have studied career pathing, up-skilling, and re-skilling.These coaches can be a sounding board if help is needed.
  • Use a pilot program first! Test out the career pathing plan on a single department first, and then make sure to adjust as necessary.This will keep the full program from having a delayed rollout.
  • Set up metrics to study and measure the success of the career pathing program.Gather feedback from those currently in the program and make sure to offer them constructive criticism and support for going the extra mile.


As with everything else, communication is key!  Do not, under any circumstances, plan a career path for an employee without discussing it with them first.  Doing that will make them feel as if they are just getting more responsibilities and more work for the same pay.    

However, not creating a career path at all will leave employees feeling as if they are in a stagnant position with no future, and they will eventually leave.  Sitting down with workers and creating a plan together is a great way to make it easy for everyone to understand their roles and responsibilities, letting all parties know what to expect from each other.  It also prepares the company and its employees for any challenges that can come up in the future by helping develop new skills and resources.  When it comes down to it, career pathing is another excellent way to keep employees engaged and retained within the company. 


Meaghan Goldberg covers recruitment and digital marketing for Lionzone.  A Patterson, GA native, after graduating from both Valdosta State University and Middle Tennessee State University, Meaghan joined Lionzone in 2018 as a digital recruitment strategist before becoming the social media manager.



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