Career architecture: Turning jobs into careers

No longer the sole bastion of compensation analysts, career architecture is fast becoming a technique to drive consistency in career paths, mobility in careers, job levels, as well as pay values. It was seen as a tedious process that managers shied away from in the past, but is increasingly being seen as a way to align people’s practices and business needs.

But, what is career architecture?

Career architecture is a framework that builds a linkage between business strategy and HR processes. Its foundation is a sound job architecture, where the relative worth of jobs is known internally as well as externally. And to build on this foundation, it uses the strategic levers of building people capability, improving performance, and creating cost-effectiveness.

Traditional career architecture models were based on a linear hierarchy of career levels but modern ones recognize the need for matrixed career growth and advancement.

The Business Case for Career Architecture: What value does career architecture bring?

The strategic value of a career architecture framework is determined by how well-knit HR processes such as rewards, promotion, performance management, career development, and even recruitment and selection are woven into it. A sound career architecture framework delivers the following benefits:

1. Control: The organization can direct the best talent towards critical roles that need ready successors at the earliest. In addition, employees can take control of the direction of their careers and make relevant decisions.

2. Visibility: The organization has visibility of the talents and skills of people and can make people-centric decisions accordingly. The benefit for people is that they can understand the career opportunities available to them better and shape the direction of their careers.

3. Pace: The organization can get quick access to a ready pipeline of successors for critical roles. People can choose the pace they are comfortable with, to grow their careers –with multiple options ranging from fast and aggressive growth to slow and steady career advancement.

4. Efficiency: A career architecture underpinned by an HR SaaS application with strong capabilities can reduce cost and increase efficiency from an organizational point of view as well as for people.

How do we unlock the benefits from career architecture?

In today’s world, people expect individualized career paths that take into account their skills, talents, career stage, and life stage constraints. To empower them to take charge of their careers and benefit from investments in career architecture, the steps to follow are:

1. Articulate the career philosophy – how does your organization define a career? What are some of the career possibilities for people?

2. Create career paths – map the vertical, horizontal, and diagonal career paths available to people, clearly identifying the career journey options available. Ensure that the career paths are backed by sound job architecture and leveling so that they are in sync with HR processes as well.

3. Highlight the non – negotiable skills and talents-identify the critical skills and talents needed at each career stage and help people in understanding where they currently are and where they are expected to be.

4. Create individualized development plans – provide all your people custom roadmaps for their career journeys to develop and grow their careers.

Overall, business leaders need to invest and believe in career architecture for it to be successful. HR needs to play an advisory role and ensure that critical processes such as rewards, performance management, job evaluation and leveling, and talent development stay synced with the career architecture.

The best talent in the marketplace is looking for advancement in a company that cares about its future. To evaluate your talent infrastructure and sync it with what your people need, reach out to us at

About the Author

(Collaborators: Sam Reeve, Howard Nizewitz, Char Miller, Sumit Singla)

Sam is the CEO and founder of CompTeam.

His core focus is leading companies through transformational change by optimizing talent initiatives with reward programs to achieve long-term strategic objectives.

Sam’s diverse experience includes the design and optimization of performance-driven variable compensation plans for executive, sales and core employee populations of growing companies.

 Prior to founding CompTeam, Sam has worked in compensation functions of notable firms such as BlackRock,  McKesson and Automatic Data Processing (ADP).

Sam is a global certified compensation consultant (CCP, GRP) with over 20 years of experience in Total Reward Strategies.

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