Praise for Career Paths

“I like how Carter, Cook, and Dorsey have balanced the perspective and needs of the employee with the needs of the organization. They’ve provided a practical toolkit for practitioners, rooted in a strong conceptual model. I have looked at other sources on career paths in organizations, but this is the book I’d actually use to design a system.”

Steven D. Ashworth, Ph.D, Manager – Human Resource Research & Analysis, Sempra Energy Utilities

Career Paths is a straight-forward guide to strategic talent management, illustrating how to integrate recruitment/selection with training/development. It is highly recommended to human resource and employee development professionals who want to optimize their use of human resources.”

Paul E. Spector, University of South Florida

“If you are, like me, a consultant who helps organizations develop and utilize their talent toward maximum performance; or a business leader trying to build a world-class organization with limited financial resources; or a Human Resources manager whose Generation Y employees are anxious to get ahead—you need to read this book. It clearly defines the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of using career path models as the foundation for a comprehensive talent management process. The ideas and methods defined in this book will help organizational leaders provide the structure to support employees’ ambitions and will help employees understand exactly what they need to do to successfully manage their own careers. I am adding this book to my professional reference library.”

Gena Cox, PhD, Managing Consultant, Human Capital Resource Center

Talent Management Essentials

Series Editor: Steven G. Rogelberg, Ph.D
Professor and Director Organizational Science, University of North Carolina – Charlotte


Senior Advisory Board:

Special Features

Each volume contains a host of actual case studies, sample materials, tips, and cautionary notes. Issues pertaining to globalization, technology, and key executive points are highlighted throughout.

Titles in the Talent Management Essentials series:

Performance Management: A New Approach for Driving Business Results
Elaine D. Pulakos

Designing and Implementing Global Selection Systems
Ann Marie Ryan and Nancy T. Tippins

Designing Workplace Mentoring Programs: An Evidence-Based Approach
Tammy D. Allen, Lisa M. Finkelstein, and Mark L. Poteet

Career Paths: Charting Courses to Success for Organizations and Their Employees
Gary W. Carter, Kevin W. Cook, and David W. Dorsey

Mistreatment in the Workplace: Prevention and Resolution for Managers and Organizations
Julie B. Olson-Buchanan and Wendy R. Boswell

Developing Women Leaders: A Guide for Men and Women in Organizations
Anna Marie Valerio

Employee Engagement: Tools for Analysis, Practice, and Competitive Advantage
William H. Macey, Benjamin Schneider, Karen M. Barbera, and Scott A. Young

Online Recruiting and Selection: Innovations in Talent Acquisition
Douglas H. Reynolds and John Weiner

Senior Executive Assessment: A Key to Responsible Corporate Governance
Dean Stamoulis

Real Time Leadership Development
Paul R. Yost and Mary Mannion Plunkett


To Robin, William, Matthew and Evan. GWC

To Ann, Jason and Lindsay. KWC

To Diana and Emily. DWD

Series Editor’s Preface

The Talent Management Essentials series presents state-of-the-art thinking on critical talent management topics ranging from global staffing, to career pathing, to engagement, to executive staffing, to performance management, to mentoring, to real-time leadership development. Authored by leading authorities and scholars on their respective topics, each volume offers state-of-the-art thinking and the epitome of evidence-based practice. These authors bring to their books an incredible wealth of experience working with small, large, public, and private organizations, as well as keen insights into the science and best practices associated with talent management.

Written succinctly and without superfluous “fluff,” this series provides powerful and practical treatments of essential talent topics critical to maximizing individual and organizational health, well-being, and effectiveness. The books, taken together, provide a comprehensive and contemporary treatment of approaches, tools, and techniques associated with Talent Management. The goal of the series is to produce focused, prescriptive volumes that translate the data- and practice-based knowledge of organizational psychology, human resources management, and organizational behavior into practical, “how to” advice for dealing with cutting-edge organizational issues and problems.

Talent Management Essentials is a comprehensive, practitioner-oriented series of “best practices” for the busy solution-oriented manager, executive, HR leader, and consultant. And, in its application of evidence-based practice, this series will also appeal to professors, executive MBA students, and graduate students in Organizational Behavior, Human Resources Management, and I/O Psychology.

Steven Rogelberg

About the Series Editor

Steven G. Rogelberg Ph.D., is Professor and Director of Organizational Science a the University of North Carolina Charlotte. He is a prolific and nationally recognized scholar. Besides academic journals, his work has been featured in many popular press outlets (e.g., NPR, CBS News, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, Wall Street Journal). He is the current Editor of Journal of Business and Psychology. Besides his academic work, he founded and/or led three successful talent management consulting organizations/units.


The world has changed drastically, and these changes have had a profound impact on careers. Global competition, outsourcing, off-shoring, mergers, and acquisitions have impacted the employment relationship in fundamental ways, and societal and cultural changes have resulted in complex and highly varied career patterns.

Career paths have become increasingly varied, fluid, and emergent as people make career decisions within a highly dynamic organizational, societal, and global economic milieu. However, while career paths are increasingly complex and dynamic, they are by no means random, but rather can be understood and influenced. Indeed, this book demonstrates that in today’s world, individuals and organizations must focus on career paths if they are to achieve their goals and maximize their success.

The factors that have so dramatically changed career paths are the same factors that have made it imperative to focus on them. The well-worn paths of yesterday were easy to follow. In today’s world, you must chart your course to success.

In this book, we demonstrate that career paths are the centerpiece of effective talent management systems, and highly useful mechanisms for realizing organizations’ strategic human capital visions in today’s world. We illustrate how career paths can be used to bring together individual career development, education and training, recruitment, hiring, retention, workforce planning, and succession management in a manner that ensures that individual and organizational needs and goals are met, and that enhances the potential of individuals and their effectiveness within organizations.

We also show, step by step, how to construct career paths, how to integrate career paths into a variety of human capital tools and processes, and how to use those paths to maximize individual and organizational potential. Practical advice and examples are provided throughout the book. We translate principles and concepts into concrete and practical career path development and implementation steps that business leaders, human resource professionals, industry representatives, educators, and training and development professionals can apply to maximize the success of individual employees, organizations, and industries.


Barbara Derwart who provided important insights into the economic development perspective on career paths. Roxanne Worden, Steve Gerety, and John Canery who provided assistance in preparing the figures and graphics for this book. Steven Rogelberg and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments and suggestions. Elaine Pulakos for inspiring us to write this book, but not for making it look easy. All of our colleagues at DDI and PDRI for their insights and expertise.