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How to Talk To Your Boss about Your Career Path

Oct 13, 2017

Once upon a time, having employees who have been working with a company for decades was nothing new. But these days, most people join a new company with the intent of staying for less than three years. This ‘job hopping’ that has become quite a trend these days might be good for raises and for climbing the corporate ladder, but it also has a downside. Not only does a company have to spend more time with a new hire, even the employees might find it hard to readjust to a new team, manager, and work culture. The main reason behind such trends lies in the fact that employees start feeling ‘stuck’ in their career paths and even if they have half-baked self-conversations in their cars on the way to work, they don’t really verbalize these thoughts where they really matter – to their managers.

Going with the tide and trends, a ‘jumping around’ career path might seem normal to most, but there is still a lot to be said about the importance of a career discussion. To get this conversation with your manager started, let’s fist take a look at why it is important in the first place.

Why do such conversations even matter?

A majority of workplaces have come to accept the job-hopping phenomenon, even though it is quite cumbersome. Job-hopping for employees is about taking quite a risk, adjusting to the new place. What if you find out that the new job is not as good a fit as you thought it might be? The worst case scenario would be you jumping back into the interview pool.

It would behoove us all if we were able to have an honest conversation about what you want your career path to look like; with yourself and with your manager. It will help a lot in getting close to the work-life balance that you are looking for. But you do need to cue in your manager about how to help you out in this regard.

The elements of a successful career path conversation

This is one conversation that you will definitely want to get right and for that purpose, you need to pay attention to certain elements, like:


If you look at it practically, the relationship you have with your manager should not play a part in having a productive career path. But if you believe that it makes absolutely no difference what kind of relationship you have, you would be considered naïve. It’s not about being close to your boss, but about knowing them well enough, so you feel at ease when talking to them. This will also help you recognize the ambiance, whether what you are saying is being rightly received or if you are being misunderstood, and so on.

Aim to be clear and direct. In fact, have a few practice rounds with a friend to see if you’re verbalizing just what you mean to say.

2.The Timing

Timing is something that can take your career path conversation from a success to a disaster. Small things that you should remember in this regard are that this is not a 5 minute conversation, so you cannot expect to have it right before heading home. Give it ample time. Another important thing is for you to be able to ‘recognize the ambiance’ (as mentioned before) of the room. If you feel that your boss is distracted by other things, it might be a good idea to postpone the discussion for a time when you both can give it full attention.


You cannot just begin the conversation and then try to ‘wing it’. First and foremost you need to have the facts clear in your own mind regarding what you want. Creating unnecessary confusion when even you aren’t sure of what to ask for will do no good.

Progress in your career path comes from many different places and is indicated by numerous factors. It takes skill development, networking, working on projects that help fulfill the company’s and your personal goals, challenging yourself, etc. It is not always about promotions.

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