Career Development: The Needs Assessment

An important aspect of boosting employee retention and enhancing loyalty is showing how your company is committed to each employee’s career development path. One way to do that is to institute a career needs assessment process.


It happens all the time – as people stay with a company, they may outgrow their position and eventually become less productive as well as less valued by the organization. One way to counter this outcome is with regular career needs assessments that keep both the employee and their manager thinking about how to continue to grow and develop in the company.

Doing this effectively entails having managers who can tell when employees need to pause and re-assess where they’re at and where they’re heading or should be heading in the organization. But even before reaching that point, the career needs assessment process begins when the employee is a new hire. That’s the time to lay out initial ideas about a career path, identify strengths to play to as well as weaknesses to target for development efforts.

Elements of a career needs assessment can include surveys about interests and goals, skill inventories, and ways to document an employee’s hopes, needs, fears, and concerns. The savvy organization will make all of these elements available to employees through web-based and other digital channels.

But they key is then to make sure that staff from management and/or HR are available to discuss the results of the needs assessment and translate that into a professional development action plan that not only keeps the employee’s career moving forward but that also aligns with organizational goals and priorities.

The whole career needs assessment process is something that needs to be revisited at least on an annual basis, but should not be confused with or rolled into whatever performance appraisal process in place in your company. An employee’s career development is an essential aspect of their staying power and must be given it’s own time and attention separate from performance reviews.

To get an idea of some of the different elements that you may want to include in a career needs assessment process, take a look at some of the career-related assessments at My Career Crossroads, such as the following:

  • Work-Life Balance. Knowing what you need to feel satisfied with the mix of work and personal commitments is an essential piece of career development.
  • Personal Reactions During Change. Do you thrive on change or fear it? Does it jazz you or stress you out? Knowing and understanding how you react to change is important.
  • Career Incentives. What do you need from a job to be satisfied and fulfilled? What’s the unique mix of incentive factors that keep you going and wanting to achieve more?
  • Career Choices. This one helps you sort out what you really want from a career, if a switch is in order, and how to go about planning for your career’s future.
  • Career Ideals. Too often, your ideal career is put on a back burner and forgotten because of assumptions about how realistic or feasible it is (or isn’t) in your mind. This one helps you re-establish what it is you really want in a career.
  • Job Satisfiers. How satisfied are you in your job? What are the specific elements that feed into that level of satisfaction? This assessment helps you get clear on the answers to those questions.

Those are just a few examples of ideas around a career needs assessment process and potential elements to include. There are many more to choose from, so stay tuned for future articles that give you more ideas.

March 3, 2015   Updated :March 12, 2015   career development, needs assessment   

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