Career Mapping Can Help Boost Retention by Keeping New Hires Engaged

For many workers, the idea of climbing a career ladder has been replaced with something that looks more like a path, complete with twists, stops, and redirections—a career map. And as they follow it, they’ll often look to managers, HR professionals, and company mentors to help them move toward the right experiences and opportunities along the way.

For instance:

  • Is now the right time to enroll in your company’s year-long managerial training classes?
  • What if they’re not sure they want to move into management?
  • Will it look bad if they start then de-enroll?
  • What if they’ve only been with the company for four months?
  • Is that too soon to enroll? Should they focus on building other skills first?

What happens if the answers they get are murky, or leave them feeling lost?

When a new hire says yes to a job, they want to know that the employer has their best interest in mind. And while it might have been the salary, job description, or employer brand that lured them, being able to see where the job is going can make a big difference in whether or not they stay engaged.

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If a new hire can’t see the path ahead, they might decide it’s easier to go back the way they came.

According to the most recent Labor Department statistics, as the nation’s hiring rate has gone up, so too has the quit rate. Many see this as a byproduct of the growing economy, which has helped create a candidate-driven hiring environment. As companies seek to address their hiring needs, workers know that there are plenty of opportunities out there.

In this competitive environment, many companies rely on traditional methods of building employee loyalty, including annual bonuses, profit sharing, and sabbaticals that take effect after an employee has been on the payroll for a couple of years. But what about newer hires who are still onboarding?

When recent hires decide it’s easier to jump back into the job market than it is to try to find their way, this can leave your recruitment efforts feeling like a revolving door. This is where career maps can make a difference.


Maybe your recent hires said yes to the salary, work schedule, or even the job title. Now that they’ve been at your company for a few months, do they know where they’re headed? Discussing career mapping, even during the onboarding process, can help keep them engaged. Download our recent Spotlight, “Improve Employee Retention,” for insight into career plans, along with other issues related to retaining your talented workforce.

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Early career mapping, especially during the onboarding phase, can help build the foundation for what will become an employee’s long-term vision. Maps can take many forms, depending on the employee’s interest, skill level, and their current job details.

  • Some employees will want to write everything out in a notebook, or use a visual organizer that includes dates, benchmarks, and key steps.
  • Others will appreciate the chance to brainstorm, but might be reluctant to write things down just yet.

No matter how they begin their maps, doing so can reinforce some of the reasons they said yes to your company:

  • Career mapping can enhance an employee’s job satisfaction and motivation, which can spur productivity and improve morale throughout departments.
  • Mapping reminds employees that they are part of a company that values its people, fosters growth, and looks for ways to promote from within.
  • When managers and leaders take time to help recent hires start their maps, this can reinforce how much the company values their current contribution, and sees their potential.

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Career Map Creation Tips

Here are three ways leaders can help recent hires start their career maps:

1. Point out opportunities that are coming around the bend

Just like taking a hike with a friend who knows this stretch of woods, managers and company mentors can point things out that a recent hire might not see.

  • Perhaps your new back-end database programmer expressed interest in front-end web design when they were interviewing. There happens to be an ongoing workshop series that focuses on front-end design, and the company will cover a portion of the costs. You can bring this to the employee’s attention, and encourage them to pursue it. While it might not fit their current job title, it connects with a stated goal, and can help pave a way for the employee to advance their skills.

2. Discuss how their skills and insight can support the company’s success

Recent hires might stop themselves from pursuing an interesting direction if they notice that a position doesn’t exist at the company. That doesn’t mean they can’t be the first.

  • Let’s say your new marketing specialist has a background in inside sales, and has noticed that communication between the sales and marketing teams can be spotty. If they bring this up during a check-in, ask about their ideas on how to improve communications between the two departments. In the process, encourage them to take the broad view, and even present job details for a communications liaison between the two departments.

3. Encourage them to find and follow their motivation

At the end of the day, the employee must be motivated to build a career map and also follow the path it lays out. Still, company leaders can stay involved in order to nudge them along, or check in with them at different times.

  • By encouraging a new hire’s development, this communicates a deeper truth about the company that points back to your employer brand, and validates the employee’s decision to join your ranks. Newer employees who feel valued are more likely to stay engaged and enthused about their work in the moment, and into the future.

While career maps help new hires follow a path, it’s important to remember that most career journeys will weave around some. Still, maps can provide a foundation that helps recent hires find their footing, and feel good about moving forward.


In many cases, retention starts with making the right hire. As your dedicated applicant tracking system, myStaffingPro can help you get the most out of the entire hiring process, from requisition through retention, as you manage timing, schedules, paperwork and more. Contact a representative today, and find out how we can help your hiring workflow.

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