Career Development Discussion

Using a career development discussion template helps to kick off the career conversation
Human resources
1-1 meetings
Use this template

When was the last time someone asked you about your career path? We're hoping it's not as far back as when the guidance counselor of your high school sat you down and said, 'So, what is it that you aspire to do/be'. Reviewing career paths and having a regular career development discussion with an employee is crucial in keeping employees engaged and motivated to achieve their full potential. But how do you conduct a career development discussion? Or if you're an employee, how do you ask for one? This article helps you with the overall structure and how you can save time kicking off your discussion with a career development discussion template.

How to Have an Effective Career Development Discussion with an Employee

Before writing your career development discussion agenda, it's best to keep these best practices in mind for a fruitful and inspiring meeting.

Choose a neutral or fun setting.

A neutral place could be a coffee shop or a new co-working space. If you're lucky enough to have a scenic route where you can walk, provide it as an option. Steve Jobs was famous for interviewing people during his walks. This sets the right mood and mindset for the discussion. If you're doing this discussion remotely, you can both agree to be in a coffee shop or a quiet co-working space instead of the usual place where you have your Zoom calls.

Make sure to stick with your commitment.

Avoid canceling a scheduled session unless there's a real emergency. If you keep canceling, it sends the message that their career is not a priority. This affects the conversation once you finally sit down and have the career development discussion.

Focus on the career discussion.

Remember that this is not a performance review. Avoid asking about projects or other topics. The spotlight is on the employee and their career.

What special items are discussed at a career development board?

There's no strict structure when it comes to career conversations with employees. But, as far as how do you start a career development conversation, there is one main thing to keep in mind. The only guideline is to ask great questions that will uncover the employee's strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations. This structure can also be applied as career development panel discussion questions if you're planning to run a career discussion for your company.

In general, your questions should be split into three categories, which work as your career conversation toolkit. If you're wondering what do you discuss in a development discussion, here you have it.

Where They've Been

Ask questions about their past projects. How did they feel about it? What were the challenges? And what was their proudest moment?

Where They are Now

The next step is to understand how they feel about their current role. Are they satisfied with their current position, or do they feel like they've outgrown it and are looking for more?

Where They Want to Be

Depending on their answers about how they feel regarding their current role, it's time to think about the future. If they are satisfied with their current position, are there side projects that they can do to learn a new skill? Are they seeking for a mentor to explore other career options?

If the employee feels stuck with some questions, no need to push for answers. Instead, take it as an opportunity for them to explore it after the call by adding their responses to the career development meeting agenda after the meeting.

What's Inside This Career Development Discussion Template

What do you say in a career discussion? How do you structure a career conversation? There are so many questions around this topic that you might find it difficult to start. Fret not, as we have all the questions prepared for you in our career development discussion template for both managers and employees.

  • Career Development Discussion with Manager

If you're an employee and want to discuss your career with your manager, you can use this career template to set the agenda.

  • Career Conversation Guide for Employees

If you're a manager and an employee requested a career conversation, then this template is perfect for you. There is no need to invest much in prep time before the meeting since we've already curated some questions for you in our career conversation discussion template.


The name of the employee, their current role, a final career objective, and their manager's name.

Reflection - Current Goals & Needs

  • What motivates them?
  • What are their personal goals?

Use this career development template and add, edit, or delete any of the existing questions. You can also use this template as the agenda for the meeting and attach it to your Google Calendar invite.

Development Goals

Find out what they'd like to accomplish in the next year, whether there are any obstacles that may inhibit them from reaching these goals, and which skills they'll need to develop or lean into to succeed.

Potential Future Roles & Opportunities

A few career conversation examples and questions:

  • What do they aspire to in the future?
  • In which areas would they like to develop in ultimately and what are their professional aspirations?

Action Steps

For each objective that will help them reach their career development goals, outline the action steps they'll need to achieve them.

Start Having Better Meetings

Using a discussion template like this can save you time preparing for your meeting. You can even hold asynchronous discussions before and after the career development discussion meeting, especially if there are questions that you'd still like to explore.

Check out this template or, any of the others we have to start improving the way you run your meetings.👇