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A recent article on Forbes.com titled “Who's in charge of career planning, you or your employer?”  got me thinking. It discusses conclusions from a recent study of employees' and managers' perceptions of who is responsible for one's career development.

The study showed that workers believe employers should identify career paths and promotional opportunities, and provide mentoring and training for career advancement. Managers, on the other hand, believe employees should find career paths and take responsibility for developing appropriate skills.


In my view, it’s not either/or, but that both who are right. The thing is, it depends a lot on the circumstances – in particular, whether the employer is a small business or a large conglomerate.

A big company would be foolish not to provide employees with assistance in their career development in the form of on-the-job training, mentoring, and/or tuition reimbursement. The employer doesn't want to lose personnel and stand the expense of onboarding new staff. This is Employee Retention 101!

In some industries – banking and real estate, for instance – formal, in- or out-of-house professional development courses are available to prepare staff for promotions or lateral transfers. If you're their employee, you'd be foolish not to take advantage of such opportunities. The classes may be tuition-free, and/or include paid time.

If you're working the grill at a small-town café, you're generally on your own when it comes to moving up the career ladder. You might take a turn as a line cook at a big-city restaurant where the executive chef was trained at a prestigious culinary institute, or enroll in a cooking class at your local community college. Or if the owner offers to sell out to you when she retires, your career development plans should include learning about food safety, accounting … and  lot of things I don't know about because I'm no expert on the restaurant industry – my only related experience is as a customer.

The most foolish thing you can do is to not plan for your career at all, to not take responsibility for your future. You may make some bad moves – most everyone does – but some moves will surprise you with opportunities you never dreamed possible.

About The Author

Dr. Donald Zytowski

Dr. Donald Zytowski has served a key role in facilitating internal and third-party research for Kuder, including development of new assessment and content for the vast database of career biographies in the Kuder® Career Interests AssessmentTM. He is a well-established counseling psy ... read more