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Caela Farren, Ph.D. is President, Tom Karl is Executive Vice President and Adam Alexander is Vice President of MasteryWorks, Inc., Career Development Experts for over 30 years. MasteryWorks builds integrated career systems that align talent with business needs; helps leaders and managers engage, develop, and retain their people; and empowers employees to take charge of their careers. MasteryWorks solutions (which include consulting, leader and employee training, web portals, and assessments) create the foundation for impactful "career conversations" centered on alignment of talent, increased contribution and performance, and increased retention, engagement, and career fit.
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Reaching a Broader Workforce with Career Development Portals
by Caela Farren, Ph.D., Tom Karl, and Adam Alexander, MasteryWorks, Inc.


"Employees can access these Career Portals on their own time and at their own pace.
Why Not?
   Now is the time to tell your employees that you care about them, their careers, and their futures. All industry data and your own employee surveys clearly suggest that Career Development continues to be of key concern to employees. For the moment, employees are holding tight until the economy turns. But when the economy turns around, do you fear a loss of strategic talent? Are you concerned about retention of key leaders, managers and employees in your organization? Are you prepared for what will happen then?

    What will your employees do at that time? Will they stay with you? Will they look for new opportunities outside of your organization or do they see that you are listening to them by providing them with the tools, resources and information to support advancement in your organization?

    A Career Development Portal, as part of your employee engagement strategy, could be a fundamental resource that makes the difference.

What’s a Viable Approach in This Climate?    
    Employees at many organizations have limited tools or training options to help identify and plan for career opportunities within the organization. Some organizations provide tools and resources to employees for taking charge of their careers, but fail to provide their employees with enough hands-on help to know how to use or where to search for those tools for effective career planning. The tools then go unused and employees feel the organization lacks concern for their careers. As the economic downturn spirals training budgets downward and pushes managers to do more with less, organizations are hamstrung by severely reduced opportunities to provide workshops and seminars to help employees plan their careers.

    An effectively designed and strategically developed Career Portal can provide your employees with a solid framework, providing them easy access to useful self-discovery tools to think about their careers and drive them into action at a very cost-effective price. Employees can access these Career Portals on their own time and at their own pace, which is especially appealing in today’s on-demand culture. Many organizations have provided the robust resource and tools to their employees for just a few dollars per employee per year. Career Portals also provide managers with the tools and resources needed to become more effective at preparing for and hosting successful career conversations with their team members. Designed properly, a Career Portal can be used as a stand-alone career development resource or can provide ongoing support to career training when training budgets are restored.  A Career Portal offers a high-tech, enterprise-wide solution to support other more focused, high-touch development solutions.

©2009 MasteryWorks, Inc.

Are You Leveraging What You Already Have in Place?    
    You may already have a number of resources in place that could benefit your employees in exploring their career options. However, employees may not be able to access them easily. Your existing tools and resources may be organized in other frameworks or in other contexts making it difficult for employees to know how to use the tools and resources for their career planning. An effective Career Portal actually drives usage and will increase your return on investment. It will add value to many of your existing tools and resources.

What Is Best Practice? – A Defining Resource
    A Career Development Portal is a key organizational resource, enabling both employees and mangers to host effective career and development conversations and thereby increase employee engagement, productivity, development and retention. Driven and integrated from the larger talent management strategy, a Career Development Portal provides a career development framework for building a common development language, organizing internal resources, and incorporating a wide range of interactive self-exploration and management tools. Career portals enable organizations to communicate key messages, roles, responsibilities, benefits and career development tools. They can assist managers to recognize and nurture the talents and interests of their staff members while helping their employees to increase self-awareness, to recognize their skills, and to produce a keen insight into individual career accountability. Career portals provide a sustainable, 24/7 career information resource that aligns the organization’s strategic business goals with individual career aspirations of a national or global workforce.

Not All Portals Are the Same. What Makes a Great Career Portal?

    Great Career Portals can be differentiated from others. Check out this brief quiz. Is your Career Development Portal…

  • Organized in a user-friendly framework providing practical and actionable processes?
  • An interactive tool that incorporates assessments and self discovery tools that foster personal ownership for career and professional development?
  • An integrated resource linked to maximize existing programs, information and systems?
  • Directing users to searchable career information, options, success standards, development opportunities by career paths and/or job families?
  • Giving users powerful models and visuals that quickly communicate key career development concepts?
  • Providing robust reporting information and metrics to integrate and track employee engagement and other key talent management success measures?

   If you have any doubt about how great Career Portals can make a difference in retention and engagement, perhaps employee comments may best provide insight into what great Career Development Portals offer employees and an organization.

Typical examples of employee feedback in July 2009 from a national pharmaceutical company included:

  • “The assessments provided an eye opening experience and long over-due. Thank you.”
  • “My Manager could care less about us. They never talk to us about our future or what is to come. We are on our own. Thanks for having these websites to go to for information.”
  • “The assessment made me realize that I need to take action in my career. There’s a lot I can do to help myself. I usually just go with the flow. But I really need to take action.”
  • “The final assessment report is a very valuable tool that I will begin to use immediately. It’s comprehensive and provides useful recommendations for next steps and follow-up.”
  • “This assessment was very helpful for me. It has shown me that areas I once viewed as assets were actually areas that I need to focus upon and develop even further, if I am to achieve my career aspirations and become marketable in my industry.”
  • “I now see that career path advancement is in our own hands. We need to find ways to ‘market’ our work.”
  • “Not only was the assessment valuable to determine what areas that I needed improvement on; it gave me the tools to improve.”
  • “I got a lot out of the recommendations section- some thought provoking feedback that will be useful if I find myself looking for an opportunity outside the new organization.”
  • “Very comprehensive assessment to help with many areas of life during these days of uncertain times of divorce, elderly parents, changing health, company reorganizations.”
  • “Nice to work with as a tool for development with my manager”

What Stage Are In?
  ©2009 MasteryWorks, Inc.

     Organizations will need to be more competitive than ever when the economy turns around. If you fail to take a serious interest in employees’ career development now, many employees and managers will leave as the job market expands. You can’t afford to wait to let your employees know that you care about their careers. If you want to keep your strategic talent engaged and retained, bring great Career Development Portals onboard or supplement your HR resources with great Career Portals. They are cost effective tools that will send out a message to everyone in the organization. We care about your careers.
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