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Career Development

Retaining Your Employees



What is Career Development

What it is     Who's responsible      Employee Development Plans


In undertaking its wide-sweeping Compensation Reform initiative, the overhauled its classification and compensation system in favor of a modernized, flexible compensation and performance management system that offers employees the opportunity to more easily take advantage of career opportunities.

The current initiative of Compensation Reform is Career Development. This Career Development Guide provides state employees and their management with a reference document that:

  • Offers a general "road map" for continuing career and professional development.
  • Provides an understanding of the behavioral and technical competencies that are required to effectively perform tasks in their occupations, and to use for career planning.
  • Presents a reference document on learning and other developmental opportunities which may be used in preparation of Employee Development Plans - a component of the Employee Work Profile

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What it is

Career development is an ongoing process where employees:

  • Explore their interests and abilities
  • Strategically plan their career goals, and
  • Create their future work success by designing learning and action plans to help them achieve their goals.

Career development involves being aware of one's personal goals and values as well as work goals. It involves continuously learning and applying new knowledge, taking advantage of opportunities, and taking risks in order to help the organization be productive and effective while achieving one's career and personal goals.

The purpose of career development is to:

  • Enhance each employee's current performance
  • Enable individuals to take advantage of future job opportunities
  • Fulfill their employer's goals for a dynamic and effective workforce.

We live in uncertain times. Factors outside of the employee and employer's control may affect the outcome of career actions. But one thing is true - the best career development move is to perform well in one's current position.

Consistent, high quality performance along with thoughtful career planning will help ensure continued success on the job.

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Who's responsible

The employee has the lead responsibility for his or her career development.
Supervisors, managers, and the organization can provide meaningful assistance in this process.

The following are examples of career development actions:


  • Decide what they want from their careers now and in the future
  • Take actions individually or with their supervisors to assess individual interests, strengths, and areas for development
  • As part of the performance management process, develop a yearly Employee Development Plan (EDP) with supervisor input, including current job development and longer term career objectives
  • Work with supervisor to identify on the job learning and training opportunities, continued education, and/or avenues for professional development


  • Identify the job-related knowledge, skills, abilities, competencies and experience that employees need to be effective in their positions
  • Help employees define short and long term development needs that support organizational objectives and employee career goals
  • Support Employee Development Plans by indicating specific steps that need to be taken and by whom to accomplish the learning goals.


  • Provide a job and compensation structure that supports the organization's goals and allows for individual development and growth
  • Provides time and available funding for development activities
  • Use the knowledge, skills and abilities of each employee to support organizational objectives
  • Develop a proactive approach to meet future staffing needs

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Employee Development Plans

The Employee Development Plan (EDP) is part of the Commonwealth performance management system. On an annual basis (or more frequently), supervisors and employees meet to discuss the career and personal learning goals of the employee and the organization, identify the learning steps and resources needed, and put together a plan to achieve those goals over the coming year.

An EDP should include short and long term career goals, and the training, education, and learning that is needed to achieve them.

The keys to success in developing an EDP are information, communication, joint decision- making, and willingness to learn:


  • Employees need to understand their own strengths, preferences and career goals as well as options for future career progression within the agency or elsewhere in state government. Creating a career development plan is a good way to keep track of this information so you are prepared to discuss your career with your supervisor. The Career Maps feature being developed for this make link website will provide a good way to understand potential career moves within the Commonwealth.
  • Supervisors need to understand the organization's current staffing and performance needs, as well as the knowledge, skills, experience and competencies needed to perform in the current role and in the future.


  • The employee is responsible for making supervisors aware of their career and professional development goals, especially if they change.
  • There are rapid changes in today's world: missions and projects begin and end; budgets go up and down, and the need for skills and abilities can change quickly. It is up to the supervisor to communicate the current and anticipated needs of the organization so that decisions can be made that are in the best interests of the organization as well as the employee.

Joint Decision-making:

  • Although EDPs and career development plans are unique to each employee, they do not exist alone. Employees need to consider important issues like available funding, workload, and the needs of other employees when making decisions and career plans.
  • Supervisors need to take employees' goals into consideration as they consider what development initiatives to support, and how to allocate available funds within their units. Understanding employee career goals may help supervisors identify alternative development activities that meet those needs when budgets are tight.

Willingness to learn:

  • Gone is the time when good employees can expect to automatically move up a predefined career ladder. Employees need to be agile in finding the right jobs throughout their careers. A demonstrated willingness to continue to learn and use new skills, particularly technical skills, is critical to long-term career success.
  • Organizations are moving toward flatter structures, and the traditional movement "up" the career ladder is no longer the only way to achieve success. Employees need to be creative in identifying ways to move along in their career - such as lateral moves, learning or experiential opportunities or even career changes that will broaden their experience or help leverage them into a different area.
  • Supervisors need to stay aware of individual employees' development needs, and make opportunities available to employees that will help them achieve their career goals and contribute to their work unit's success.

You are Unique

There is no single career development path that is right for everyone. People have different skills, interests, values and goals - and each person's career and individual development plans must take these differences into account.

The same is true for individual jobs at state agencies. Although two jobs may have the same general role description, the mission of the agency, and the specific circumstances and environment of one job, may differ from a job with the same role name in another agency.

As you progress through the ranks, different skills and behaviors may be needed in different combinations in order to be successful. For example, as an employee progresses from entry level, to journey level to a senior or executive level, the need for increased competency in leadership, or understanding the business, will be much greater than as an entry level person in their career group.

It is your career. Take the time to develop a career development plan so that you are clear on your own career goals. Work with your supervisor on your Employee Development Plan to help achieve yearly personal learning goals. Keep your plans - and your supervisor - up to date based on changes in your professional and personal goals.

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