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Keeping Up With Change: Job Description Management

Evolving Your Career Architecture For Career Development

In today’s ever-evolving work environment, traditional approaches to career development are no longer enough. With the emergence of new technologies, changing demographics, and increased competition, a more dynamic approach to career development is needed, starting with your career architecture. New approaches that can evolve your career architecture, introduce new career pathways and can support continuous learning can result in better outcomes for professionals looking to reach new career milestones. These methods provide insight into one’s strengths and weaknesses while providing tools necessary for adapting to an ever-changing workplace. Through taking advantage of these new approaches to career development, individuals will be able to reach their full potential and companies can meet current demands.

Traditional Approach for Building a Career Architecture  

Career architecture, also known as career framework or career model, refers to a structured framework that outlines the various job profiles, career paths and progression opportunities available within an organization. It provides employees with a clear understanding of the job, skills, knowledge, and experience required to advance in their careers and achieve their professional goals. 

Traditional approaches for building a career architecture typically revolve around linear and hierarchical structures within organizations. These approaches often emphasize vertical progression, where employees move up a predefined ladder of roles and responsibilities based on tenure and performance. Career paths are often determined by managers or HR professionals, with limited input from employees themselves. Additionally, traditional approaches tend to focus on a narrow set of skills and qualifications, often disregarding the broader range of talents and potential employees may possess. While these traditional approaches have served organizations well in the past, the rapidly changing nature of work and the evolving needs of employees call for a more dynamic and personalized approach to career architecture. 

Components of a Career Architecture 

A career architecture typically includes multiple career tracks or streams, each representing a specific functional area or expertise within the organization. Within each track, there are various levels or stages that indicate different levels of responsibility, complexity, and seniority. Employees can use the career architecture to identify potential career moves, understand the competencies they need to develop, and plan their professional growth within the organization. Key components of a career architecture may include: 

  • Job Descriptions: The career architecture provides a description that answers two important questions; what is a person expected to do in the role and how is success in the role measured? 
  • Core Responsibilities: The hallmark of a good job profile contains four core responsibilities that shape 80% of what a person is accountable for on a daily basis. 
  • Competencies and Skill Requirements: The career architecture outlines the competencies, skills, and knowledge necessary for success at each level within a career track. It helps employees understand the specific capabilities they need to develop to progress in their careers. 
  • Job Families and Specializations: Some career architectures may include job families or groupings of related roles within a career track. This helps employees explore different specializations and understand the various job roles available within their chosen career path. 
  • Career Tracks: These are the different paths or streams available within the organization, such as technical, managerial, or specialist tracks. Each track represents a distinct area of expertise or career focus. 
  • Career Levels: Within each track, there are multiple levels or stages that reflect increasing levels of responsibility, scope, and expertise. These levels provide a clear progression framework for employees to advance their careers.
  • Development and Training Opportunities: The career architecture may identify development programs, training opportunities, or mentoring initiatives that support employees in acquiring the skills and competencies required for career advancement. 

A well-designed career architecture promotes transparency, fairness, and employee engagement by providing a clear roadmap for career progression. It helps employees make informed decisions about their career development, supports succession planning and talent management efforts, and enhances the organization’s ability to attract, retain, and develop top talent. 

Challenges of Building and Maintaining a Career Architecture 

Creating a career architecture can present certain challenges that organizations may encounter. Here are some common challenges associated with the process: 

  • Job Role Complexity: Organizations often have a diverse range of job roles with varying levels of complexity. Defining clear and consistent job families, levels, and titles across all functions and departments can be challenging, especially in large and complex organizations. 
  • Changing Business Needs: Job architectures need to be adaptable to accommodate evolving business needs. As organizations grow, restructure, or introduce new technologies, job roles may change or new roles may emerge. Keeping the job architecture up to date and aligned with the organization’s current and future requirements can be a challenge. 
  • Organizational Silos: Different departments or business units within an organization may have their own unique job structures and terminologies. Harmonizing these structures and aligning them under a unified job architecture can be complex, requiring collaboration and consensus-building across different stakeholders. 
  • Skill and Competency Framework: Developing a robust skill and competency framework that accurately reflects the knowledge, skills, and abilities required at each career level can be challenging. Identifying and defining the core competencies and skill sets necessary for career progression requires careful analysis and input from subject matter experts. 
  • Career Pathing and Progression: Defining clear career paths and progressions within the architecture can be complex, particularly in organizations with multiple functions, departments, or job families. Ensuring that employees have access to diverse and meaningful career options, and that pathways are transparent and well-communicated, can be a huge challenge. 
  • Change Management: Implementing a new career architecture involves significant change for employees. This can lead to concerns about job security, resistance to change, and potential impacts on employee morale and engagement. Effective change management strategies, communication, and training are essential to address these challenges. 
  • Job Evaluation and Compensation: Designing a fair and consistent job evaluation and compensation system within the job architecture can be challenging. Ensuring that job levels and grades accurately reflect the relative value and complexity of different roles, and establishing equitable pay ranges and structures, requires careful analysis and decision-making. 
  • Limited Resources: Developing and maintaining a job architecture requires time, effort, and resources. Small organizations with limited HR staff or budget constraints may find it challenging to dedicate sufficient resources to the job architecture design and maintenance process. 
  • Stakeholder Alignment: Ensuring alignment and buy-in from key stakeholders, such as senior management, HR, and employees, is critical for the successful implementation of a job architecture. It may require effective communication, education, and consultation to gain support and address concerns. 
  • Training and Development: A career architecture should provide employees with clear development opportunities and resources to acquire the skills and competencies needed for career advancement. However, designing and implementing effective training and development programs that align with the career architecture can be a challenge, particularly in terms of resource allocation and ensuring access for all employees. 

New Approach for Building a Career Architecture 

The emergence of AI in career architecture revolutionizes the traditional approach of manually creating and updating career paths, resulting in significant time, cost, and efficiency savings. AI-powered systems like TalentGuard’s AI utilize advanced algorithms and machine learning to analyze various data sources, including labor market data, job architecture, organizational structure, and employee information. By automating the process, these systems generate personalized and dynamic career progressions for employees, eliminating the need for manual intervention by HR professionals. AI algorithms identify skill gaps, recommend relevant development opportunities, and provide clear career guidance. By leveraging AI in talent management, organizations optimize their processes, increase efficiency, and enhance their ability to attract, nurture, and leverage top talent in a highly competitive job market. 


In conclusion, a great starting point for building an effective career development program is to review a company’s career architecture. This can provide insight into what skills are necessary for success, how individual roles fit into the broader organizational structure, and how employees can progress within their desired fields over time. A comprehensive review of career architecture will also serve as a jumping off point when it comes to creating beneficial learning opportunities and developing relevant training goals for employees. By taking a holistic approach to career development, companies will be better equipped to cultivate happy and productive teams that are capable of adapting to the challenges of an ever-evolving work environment.

Ready to support your career development program?

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