What is a career roadmap? (With how-to guide and examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 December 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

There are a few different ways to guide your career path towards a profession or role you want to pursue. A career roadmap is a long-term approach to career planning that provides a lifelong way to manage your achievements and focus on a specific career. If you want to guide your career in a certain direction, a roadmap is a great tool for ensuring you reach certain goals and milestones. In this article, we explain what a career roadmap is, list out steps on how to create your own and provide some examples you can reference.

What is a career roadmap?

A career roadmap is a type of professional plan that outlines your career path. It considers the steps that you may take to reach your goals and aspirations of reaching a certain career or role. It acts as guidance to help you make better-informed decisions about your career prospects and is a useful way to monitor your career progression. A roadmap is flexible, which allows you to adjust your goals over time depending on any decisions you make during your career.

Related: How to choose a career path

How to create a roadmap

Learning how to create a roadmap ensures that you're on the right track towards your desired goals. Here are some steps you can follow to create a roadmap:

1. Establish your desired career

The first step is establishing your career goals, being the end of your roadmap. Think about what your dream job or ideal career is, and then think about how you can achieve it. Consider any resources available to you that may help you reach your desired career, such as mentorships or vertical promotions. Sometimes, a lateral move may be essential to enter your desired career to develop new skills or experience in an unfamiliar area of work.

This includes things like department moves or strategic promotions. It's also good practice to perform regular coaching from supervisors or mentors. This helps to build up your skills and experience, ensuring that you have the right traits to work towards your chosen career. Ideally, these mentors are in the same field as your desired roles, or in an adjacent role.

2. Learn more about the job

Once you know what direction you want to take your career in, it's essential to learn about the intricacies of the job. You can take particular note of factors like the qualifications, skills and experience necessary to perform well in the role. If you work in a company with good career road-mapping, they may help by outlining in plain terms what the job requires. When you're looking for this type of information about the job, use the following areas to learn more about the requirements for the role:

  • job descriptions

  • speaking with employees in the desired role

  • training sessions

  • shadowing opportunities

  • mentorships

  • transfer opportunities

  • coaching sessions

  • cases of succession preparation and planning

Related: The differences between career growth vs. development

3. Take the steps to achieve established goals

Now that you have the relevant information about the roles and requirements of the job you're seeking, you can start considering the steps to take to achieve these requirements. Write an action plan that breaks down the areas you can develop if you want to apply for your desired job. Writing these plans down also acts as a resource for motivation, as it solidifies your ideas into actionable steps for you to take. If your company has an established career development plan, then share your goals with them to see how they can help.

4. Track your progress using key performance indicators

Key performance indicators are a useful way to assess your progress towards the career of your choice in a roadmap. These are flexible metrics you can add to your roadmap to act as milestones or checkpoints. For example, transitioning into a new department or receiving a promotion are two notable indicators of your progress.

5. Use lagging and leading indicators to measure career development

Lagging and leading indicators are two specific metrics to measure your career development. Lagging indicators are a way to reflect how things change following progress in your career development while leading indicators show how these factors change before you progress. Leading indicators help you understand the real-time factors that affect your career development. For example, the quality of work you create is a useful leading indicator of your abilities and reflects your development. Lagging indicators focus more on measurable historical data. There are a few different metrics to consider for lagging indicators, such as:

  • staff opinion surveys

  • turnover rates

  • assessing whether your company uses internal hiring or external hiring

  • looking at how employees develop after a promotion

  • assessing innovation in the workplace and its frequency

Related: 8 steps to effectively approach career exploration

What are the benefits of creating a roadmap?

Mapping out a roadmap for your job can have several benefits, including:

  • Targeting the right jobs: Careers often have periods of transition as you switch into different jobs. Using a roadmap ensures you choose jobs that align with your ideal career, even if it isn't the best option in the short term.

  • Target knowledge and skill gaps: Roadmaps also help you establish what skills or knowledge to develop, allowing you to focus on the right areas for your ideal position. You have a more clear path and direction of professional development when you use a roadmap.

  • Considers more factors than monetary compensation: While earning appropriate compensation is an essential factor to consider, a roadmap gives you a different perspective that allows you to focus on other factors that may have more long-term benefits. For example, there are roles that may have lower compensation but provide more opportunities for networking and recognition.

  • Minimises setbacks: If something goes wrong during your career journey, having a roadmap can help you stay focused and motivated to work towards your ideal career. This can help you better face challenges or setbacks, as your goals are more long-term.

Related: Top tips for successful career progression

Roadmap examples

Learning how to create your own roadmap is a helpful way to guide your career trajectory. There are lots of different career paths to choose from, so roadmaps may look quite different depending on the industry and role. To help give you a better understanding of how to create a roadmap, here are some examples you can reference:

Education roadmap

Here's an example of a roadmap for an educational career:

Career aspiration: Headteacher
Starting point: Obtain a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education

  • Milestone: get full teacher training and certification

  • Milestone: work for at least three years while performing personal development planning and attending conferences

  • Milestone: join the Children's Panel

  • Milestone: obtain a master's degree in education

  • Milestone: receive a promotion to deputy headteacher

  • Milestone: work at least three years as deputy head teacher for promotion to the headteacher

IT roadmap

Here's an example of a roadmap for an IT professional:

Career aspiration: Software development manager
Starting point: Retail customer service

  • Milestone: complete a programming boot camp while working in customer service

  • Milestone: leave the job to pursue a new career as a software developer

  • Milestone: find a job as a junior software developer

  • Milestone: work under the guidance of a senior developer for at least three years

  • Milestone: receive a promotion to senior software developer

  • Milestone: after three years, apply for a software development manager role

Related: The best certifications to advance your career

Entrepreneur roadmap

Here's a common roadmap for entrepreneurs:

Career aspiration: Business owner
Starting point: Sales associate

  • Milestone: work as an entry-level sales associate for at least two years

  • Milestone: receive a promotion to sales manager

  • Milestone: take a lateral move to work in the marketing department

  • Milestone: receive a promotion to senior marketing manager

  • Milestone: obtain a master's degree in marketing

  • Milestone: receive a promotion to the chief marketing officer

  • Milestone: leave the company and start a marketing agency

Electrician roadmap

Here's an example roadmap for becoming a certified electrician, which you can apply to many similar professional trades:

Career aspiration: Master electrician
Starting point: Apprentice electrician

  • Milestone: complete electrician apprenticeship

  • Milestone: establish a business as an electrical contractor

  • Milestone: undertake master electrician course

  • Milestone: obtain master electrician licence

Law roadmap

Here's an example roadmap to becoming a senior-level lawyer:

Career aspiration: Partner at a legal agency
Starting point: Law student

  • Milestone: complete law degree

  • Milestone: complete the legal practice course

  • Milestone: undertake two years of legal training

  • Milestone: work as a legal consultant for at least five years

  • Milestone: obtain promotion to partner at a law firm

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