Establishing Career Paths as Retention Tactic

Feb. 27, 2007

Natick, MA – The inability to find qualified staff and arranging training for existing staff are the top two challenges facing AEC firms, according to respondents of ZweigWhite's 2007 AEC Business Trends Survey. "In today's highly competitive job market, companies that have established career development programs are positioned well to attract and retain good talent as well as develop home-grown talent," says John Ford, an education and training consultant with ZweigWhite's Strategic Advisory Services Group.

Creating a career path program for your organization is an investment that takes time to create and implement, but has huge payoffs for your employees and your firm. Ford shares some ideas to get started:

  • Draft job descriptions. Update job descriptions to be more competency-based. What does the person who either holds or aspires to this position need to know to do the job well? What type of decision-making and problem-solving is involved? If the position is part of a career path, what are the logical steps for someone currently in the position to prepare for the next level?
  • Provide training development solutions. If job descriptions require specific experience or training as a pre-requisite for attaining the position, clearly identify the training and how it can be accessed. This may include professional certifications, academic education, internal mentoring, etc. If training is needed from outside sources, identify known providers.
  • Support non-linear career paths. Don't set the expectation for your employees that once they enter into a particular discipline or part of the organization, their career path is limited to that function. Talented employees who are focused on learning more about the many aspects of your business will prove to be the most valuable in the long run.
  • Communicate opportunities. Communication is critical in this endeavor as the firm positions itself to embrace future success through the career development program. Let the staff know they are part of the firm’s future and that career paths will help them determine how they can more actively contribute.

ZweigWhite provides business information and expertise exclusively to professionals in the architecture, engineering, planning, and environmental consulting industry, through its proprietary consulting services (merger & acquisition consulting, ownership transition, corporate valuation, business appraisal, strategic business planning, marketing and business development), newsletters, magazines, research, tradeshows, conferences, seminars, books, training tapes and other business education materials. The company serves its clients from offices in Natick, MA, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

For further information, contact Anne O'Malley at [email protected] or visit

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