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How To Create A Career Map (The Complete Guide)

Do you want to develop your career with a specific goal in mind? Creating a career map can help. Here's how to do it the right way.
by Rob Gillham | Nov 14 2022

Choosing or developing your career requires a clear understanding of your long-term professional goals. Career maps are written plans that guide you through your own professional development and highlight the steps that can lead you there.

It is possible to pursue a fulfilling and successful career if you know how to create an effective career map. 

In this article, you will learn how to create a career map, the key steps to follow, the rules to abide by when examining your career ambitions, as well as examples to follow when creating your own career map.

Are you ready to learn how to create a career map for 2022 and beyond? Let’s get started

How Does a Career Map Work?

In a career map, you set out where you are now in your career, where you want to be, and the steps you need to take to reach your ultimate goal.

Employees may be provided with career maps explaining how they can advance through the organization and what requirements they must meet at each stage.

The career map you create for yourself, however, will be very personal to you. Your goal may be to determine a path for progression within your company, to join a rival organization, to start your own business, or even to switch fields.

What Are the Benefits of Creating a Career Map?

Your career goal may be vague in your head, but if you don’t define it and make a clear plan for getting there, you’re leaving a lot to chance. Creating a career map will help you make the right moves and decisions in your career to reach your goals.

In addition, it allows you to assess your current skills and strengths and identify any weaknesses or gaps in your knowledge. With a career map, you can think about both short-term and long-term goals and define the steps you need to take to reach your desired outcome.

If you think about all these aspects, you will have a much better understanding of the career path you wish to follow and how to succeed in it. You will have a document to refer back to, so you can ensure you stay on track while also acknowledging and celebrating the progress you’ve made.

How To Create A Career Map

You can maximize the potential of your career map if you understand how to create one. The career mapping process is one of the most important tools for identifying opportunities in your field.

This helps you identify which skills you already possess, which ones you can develop, and which ones you might want to acquire. A career map can also help you identify the skills you need to acquire in order to get where you want to be.

Follow these steps to create the best career map: 

1. Decide where you want to start

An in-depth analysis of where you stand at present is the first step toward creating a career map. Consider your strengths, skills, and passions, as well as your weaknesses, skill gaps, and anything else that may hinder you.

Identify your strengths and weaknesses in your current job, along with what excites or frustrates you. Make sure you keep a detailed record of everything you do.

As you review yourself and your current situation, you will be able to determine what your long-term goal is and how to reach it.

2. Decide what your ultimate goal is

Your career map needs to be detailed and specific when determining where you want to go. Identify what the job description and person specification mean if your objective is to move into a particular position.

This information may be available from your own employer, the careers websites of companies you wish to work for, or you may need to interview people in similar roles to learn exactly what they do (see our article on informational interviews). Your goal should be measurable so that you can track progress.

3. Plan your short- and long-term goals

When you know where you are and where you want to be, it should be easier to determine what skills, experiences, and competencies you already possess and those you still need to acquire. This can then be broken down into steps.

By setting smaller goals that you can accomplish as you go, you will feel like you are making progress toward your ultimate objective.

Make sure you know exactly what each of your short-term goals entails. You may need to gain specific qualifications or experience before applying for your dream job, or you may need to hold interim positions.

Set realistic goals and set deadlines for completing them. Don’t aim too low, but don’t dream too big. Make sure you acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments when you reach one of your smaller goals.

Keep your end goal in sight and stay motivated by acknowledging the progress you have already made.

4. Get input from others

If your goal is to advance within your current company, telling your manager about your ambitions can help to clarify your career path. It may be a good idea to discuss whether your plan fits with how they see you moving up in the company.

They may also know of paths for promotion or development you hadn’t considered and can help you by directing you to training programs or assigning you projects that will move you closer to your goals.

Alternatively, consider finding a mentor outside of your company who can provide insight into the career you want, as well as ongoing feedback and support.

5. Include lifestyle goals in your plan

While your career map will focus on your professional life, it’s also important to consider your personal ambitions and objectives and how these might influence your career path.

Creating your career map should take these factors into consideration, for example, if you want to live abroad, work remotely, or start a family.

6. Don’t forget to check-in

Keep checking in on your career map once you’ve created it. Your physical career map should be displayed somewhere you can see it every day if you created one with pen and paper.

Set yourself regular reminders to review it and evaluate your progress if it is in digital format.

7. Flexibility is key

In addition to making your career map detailed and specific, you should also be prepared to adjust it as necessary. In addition to external events, industries will change, and your own priorities may change, so keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to alter or update your career goals.


You should always have a clear idea of where you are heading and why, regardless of where you are in your career. When you don’t have defined goals and a strategy for progress, you are at risk of drifting off course and not taking advantage of opportunities.

By creating a career map, you can make a thorough analysis of what you want out of your career while developing a detailed plan to ensure that you keep moving in the right direction.


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