Career development FAQ

What’s a career path?
The foundation of the VCU's HR plan is a university-wide job structure that groups jobs by function using a standard set of job titles. Most titles have three levels (e.g., Accountant I, Accountant II, Accountant III). Each job title has a unique market range. Career paths are the journey employees take to achieve their career interests. Typically, the career path reflects advancement through their careers by moving across the market ranges through proposed stages of emerging, proficient, accomplished and expert, as well as advancing up through the job title series as they gain competencies and experience. Career advancement in the same job is called “promotion in place.” There will also continue to be opportunities to receive promotions across the university through the competitive hiring/search process. Different career tracks are designed for individual contributors with deep subject matter expertise distinct from those who aspire to a supervisory, management or leadership role.

What’s a career community?
Career communities are how employees who are doing similar work or who have similar career interests across the university connect regularly to network, share information and determine best practices. Career communities are the structure around which mentoring and other career development opportunities will be provided in the new HR plan.

How do I get my manager to support my career development?
The expectation is for employees to engage in and managers to support the career development process. The new performance management process provides the infrastructure to implement this new expectation for both employees and managers. The career development plan (part of VCU's performance management process) documents agreed upon career development opportunities in which employees will participate. The policy specifies that managers are expected to support employees in pursuit of their career interests, to adopt practices that promote career development throughout their area and to allow employees participation in appropriate developmental opportunities. Managers are evaluated on these expectations in their own performance review. It is important for employees to be clear on what their career development interests are and work collaboratively with their managers to determine their strategic goals for the position and identify ways to develop their goals.

What happens if your department doesn’t have the money or resources to advance your career development?
Career development can take many forms and they don’t have to be expensive. There are books that one can read, internet-based listservs to participate in, free online courses through, and low-cost webinars. In addition, career communities are designed to provide cost-effective resources for employee development. With so many employees across VCU doing similar work or having similar career interests, career communities can host brown bag lunches, invite guest speakers, and sponsor on-site annual conferences at little to no cost.

What is a promotion in place?
VCU's HR plan is designed around a series of flexible career paths in the various job families around the university. An exciting feature that is part of that design is the ability to receive "promotions in place" as employees engage in career development, become more proficient in their current role, or learn new skills and grow their role. In the former HR system, promotions typically required employees to wait for jobs to open and then to apply and compete for the promotion as an applicant through the employment process. Often, this meant that employees had to leave one job for another to advance in their career. At VCU, we want to retain our valuable employees by offering them promotions within their career path without having to change positions. There may still be times when the right "next move" for an employee would be applying for a different position, but the career paths are meant to provide an alternative.