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Steps for Creating a Career Progression Plan for Your Engineers

A strong career pathway is one of the major tools companies can use to attract and retain highly-skilled automotive engineers. Although a competitive salary and other benefits are still important, engineers are now seeking an ongoing commitment to professional development from their employers when searching for new roles.

While it can be resource-intensive, investing in career development planning has long-term payoffs. Read on to find out what steps you can take to design and execute an effective career progression plan for automotive engineers.

Communicate Company Priorities

More and more, employees are looking to find jobs where they can align their personal and professional goals to a company’s purpose. By clearly communicating the priorities of the business, employees can see where they fit in and what they contribute. This can lead to increases in productivity, performance, and loyalty.

In all likelihood, this information already exists within your business but, it might not have been clearly communicated to teams. Be sure to share this information with your staff, particularly in the lead up to career progression plans. It will help your employees understand where they currently fit in and identify possible opportunities in the future.

Understand Employee Goals

Asking questions and listening to the answers is one of the biggest roles for a manager when helping an employee craft their career development plan. It can be far too easy to make assumptions about a linear road to the top and start putting together a plan based on tried and tested pathways.

For some professionals, being the boss is not the end goal – particularly those who enjoy the hands-on parts of their job. For example, you might have Hardware Engineer who has no interest in taking on any supervisory duties. Or perhaps you have a Software Architect who wants to branch out to learn new tech languages.

Start by asking about your employee’s interests and motivations. Find out what skills they would like to develop and how they can make better use of their current knowledge. Some questions might include:

•What would you like to accomplish this year?

•Are there any projects you'd like to implement, expand or join?

•Do you think any of your current duties could benefit from additional resources or training?

•What professional job or career growth goals do you hope to achieve within three years?

•What additional support can we provide so that you can accomplish these goals?

•Are there any new skills you’d like to learn?

Encourage Honesty About Strengths and Weaknesses

Working with employees to identify their current strengths and weaknesses forms a strong foundation for their professional development. Some Automotive Engineers may be technically brilliant but need to brush up on their people skills, while others might have a special talent for teaching and coaching younger staff that could be put to better use.

Uncovering strengths and weaknesses requires candour, so assure employees they will not be judged on their self-appraisal. An open, direct and honest conversation is a great way to start. Encourage employees to reflect on how they've handled past situations at work and to find repeating patterns in their approach. Remember that actively focusing on strengths and weaknesses can be an empowering exercise and provide employees with crucial insights about themselves.

Put Plans into Action with the Right Support

No career development plan is complete without the practical activities that will help an employee reach their specific goals. As part of the process, you can set milestones for learning and development that will help empower employees to achieve their objectives. This can help make longer-term goals feel more realistic and allow the employee or the manager to make adjustments with time.

You can support your employee through a range of options including:

•learning and upskilling programs

•time off or subsidies for study

•mentorship programs

•more access to feedback and coaching

•secondment opportunities or job rotation into other departments

Try to schedule some time each quarter to formally review your employee’s progress, but also don’t forget the benefits of regular one-on-ones to check in and see how they are doing.


Focusing on career advancement can deliver strong returns on investment for your organisation, particularly if staff retention is an issue. Experienced professionals often look for evidence of career progression opportunities when considering their next automotive engineering jobs, so emphasising this area is also integral to a strong employer brand.

We partner with leading organisations across Europe to find the best Automotive Engineering talent. To learn more about how we can help your business, please get in touch with one of our experienced Automotive Engineering recruitment specialists.