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Global Work Glossary

What is a career path?

A career path delineates the trajectory of an individual's professional journey, outlining the sequential steps and milestones that lead toward their career objectives. It serves as a roadmap for navigating the complexities of the professional world and realizing one's aspirations.

Within the framework of a career path, each job or role represents a distinct stage in the progression, becoming increasingly specialized and advanced as the individual moves closer to their desired position or occupation. Ultimately, the culmination of this journey is the attainment of the individual's dream job, embodying their aspirations and ambitions.

The delineation of a career path encompasses various milestones that contribute to the overall career plan, facilitating the achievement of both short-term and long-term goals. By providing guidance, accountability, and a sense of purpose, a well-defined career path benefits individuals by fostering personal growth, development, and fulfillment.

Employers appreciate employees who establish clear career paths, as it enhances engagement, morale, and productivity within the workforce. By aligning individual career goals with organizational objectives, companies can cultivate a motivated and committed workforce.

For HR teams, it is imperative to engage in discussions with employees regarding their career aspirations and how the organization can support their chosen career paths. These conversations can occur during performance reviews or the onboarding process, allowing HR professionals to identify opportunities for development and advancement.

Career development can manifest in various forms, with no singular formula dictating the progression. Two primary career paths include vertical and horizontal trajectories, each offering distinct opportunities for growth and advancement.

A vertical career path entails upward or downward movement along the career ladder within a particular industry, typically involving the pursuit of higher-level positions and the refinement of skill sets. Conversely, a horizontal career path involves lateral moves and shifts, such as transitioning to different departments, industries, or roles to broaden experience and expertise.

Several factors influence the choice of a career path, including personality traits, career goals, and the need for additional skills or qualifications. Individuals must assess their values, ambitions, strengths, and weaknesses to determine the most suitable path for their aspirations.

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