Looking to build clearer career progression for your team?

Don't worry! Here are some good examples of public and open source frameworks and career pathways to help you or your team with personal growth.

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  • BI & Data
  • Customer Support
  • Engineering
  • Design
  • Marketing
  • Product
An entirely Notion-based set of documents describing careers and progression at London-based vegan food delivery company Allplants. The only team in the collection to prominently use the nine box grid as part of their framework, and with open salary bands, this is one of the more revealing and in-depth examples we have. Really worth poring over!
Artsy's compensation framework is based in part on Rent the Runway's ladder. They started building this at around 20 engineers.
  • Operations
  • Business Development
  • Tech
  • Editorial
  • People Ops
  • Management
  • Design
One of the most in-depth open employee handbooks we've found, including deeply written skills across multiple roles as well as a hell of a lot more. There's so much reading and such a lovely tone of voice to this document, thanks to the work of Roland Grootenboer and the team.
The team at social scheduling app Buffer have put together one of the few purely generic frameworks, complete with write-up to cover how they've iterated through flat to more traditional company structure to get to their currently 80 staff. They also go into more detail about how they actually measure this, including levels and steps.
Buzzfeed implemented this framework in 2015, and updated it in 2016 to the current version. It documents both IC (Individual Contributor) and Manager responsibilites for designers at Buzzfeed.
Capgemini's engineering ladder includes eight levels for software engineers, and has some nice principles, including being generic and language independent.

This means it may make a good boilerplate for other teams to build from - though eight levels will be overkill for most.

A matrix, job title spreadsheet and in-depth blog post detailing the process Charlie HR went through to define the career ladder across the entire organisation.
  • Engineering
A great example of a well explained Individual Contributor path. What's particularly useful is the human examples of what happens when you don't have a career ladder – many of which I've experienced too.
A six-level engineering-focused framework from the SF based Continous Integration experts. Written in collaboration with Justin Cowperthwaite, engineering manager, with additional input from Jeff Palmer, VP Engineering
Brighton digital agency Clearleft have long been known for not only their work but their industry events, including UX London and Leading Design. The team have been vocal about career progression for years so it's nice to see how they imagine skills working within their team. The framework doesn't come with 'roles' so much as a bunch of defined skills which people can use to create their own.
One of the very first, and very complete. The white paper, in particular, is worth a read as it provides a bunch of theory as to how they think about capability as a function of knowledge and experience. Also of note: levels run from 9-15 and there is a provided reading list for each level.
  • Design
This tool includes not only team skills assessment but a template for individual assessment, to be completed by each individual employee. It also includes some clever scoring.
An open-source document ladder for engineers and data scientists by the SF startup Envoy.
Still in Alpha (at the time of writing), but with its own mirosite and API(!?), British newspaper The Financial Times nods to previous work from GDS and various others with their in-depth framework for the 240+ staff in the CTO's organisation. This is a true product, and should grow and evolve over time.
The legendary Joel Spolsky shared this ladder all the way back in 2009, to support his company Fog Creek (Joel went on to found Trello and Stack Overflow). He calculates career level as a function of "experience", "scope" and "skills".
  • Engineering
  • Design
  • Data
  • Research
  • Content
  • Product Management
Probably the most comprehensive framework on this list in terms of number of skillsets and roles covered (38 disciplines at last count). The Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) Profession have done a thorough job with their DDaT Capability Framework.
This isn't a detailed matrix, but more of a methodology behind how HBC think about career progression. It makes a compelling argument for having a principled structure and sticking to it. A great read from Adrian's experience both at HBC and at Gilt.

When looking to build your path, it's always worth leaning on frameworks that have been battle tested and iterated. The v1 never works first time!

Inspired again by Rent the Runway's work, Intent Media created their ladder to answer the questions of (a) what expectations everyone had of each other’s work; (b) what opportunities people had to grow within the company; and (c) what areas of their work they could focus on in order to best move into those new opportunities.

There's a great description at the start of the PDF giving more context as to the company size which necessitated this.

  • Product Management
  • Product Design
  • Content Design
Frameworks for product management and design from Dublin-based product legends intercom.

Product Management: Described as helping PMs to "Identify the most valuable problems to solve, enable your team to ship and iterate high-quality solutions quickly, and validate market impact". Breaks skills into five areas – 1) Insight Driven, 2) Strategy, 3) Execution, 4) Driving Outcomes and 5) Leadership Behaviors.

The product and content design framework is one of several open source resources on the beautiful intercom.design site, the format matches the PM ladder in part, though picking 'Products and Teams', 'Execution', 'Behaviours' and 'Results' as topics.

  • Khan Academy Team ・
  • 2016
  • ・ Mountain View, CA
A document-style framework with explanatory blog post for engineers, aiming to be fair, understood, transparent and competitive. They’ve broken career development down into Skills, Scope, and Experience.
Kickstarter's framework was revealed shortly after Rent the Runway and again takes heavy inspiration from that work. It presents as one simple document, with roles and expectations for both engineers and data scientists written as prose.
A simple framework for both designers and researchers from the UK fashion startup.
An incredibly in-depth set of tools, blog posts and frameworks to assess engineering levels at publishing platform Medium.

Noteworthy because it encourages a varied number of paths to seniority, as illustrated by Snowflake, an exploratory UI on top of the framework

Meetup just released their engineering ladders, alongside a great writeup of how they came to be. What's interesting here is the definition of a 'product engineering lead' - a role not associated with seniority (it isn't a title).

Once again we see two paths, 'maker' and 'manager'. Levels go from 2 to 8 (with management roles from 5+). These align with wider company seniority levels - the holy grail of growth frameworks.

  • Engineering
  • Product Design
  • Research
  • Operations
  • Product
  • 2018
  • ・ London
  • MIT
British bank Monzo introduced this tool in 2017 to help engineers and managers make development and career plans easier across Backend, Data, Mobile and Web development teams. They've since added a bunch more roles, including Design and Research.
  • Design
  • Ope at Paystack ・
  • 2016
  • Remix freely
A framework fairly heavy on the front end development side. Split into four seniority levels for 'Generalist designers'.
  • Unknown ・
  • 2016
  • ・ San Francisco
An interactive levels framework for Individual Contributor engineers.
  • Design
One of the originals, by Peter Merholz, author of Org Design for Design Orgs. Does an excellent job of illustrating parallel Individual Contributor and Manager paths.
  • Design
  • User Research
  • Content Writing
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One of the first engineering ladders to be shared, and establishes the four pillars of “Technical Skill”, “Get Stuff Done”, “Impact”, “Communication & Leadership” that (often with wording tweaks) can be seen in many others now.
Songkick's engineering framework is a really nicely designed PDF with seven different areas of competency: Leadership, Mentorship, Technical skills, Communication, Emotional intelligence, Delivery and Business knowledge. Some good reading presented in a clear and legible way.

Because each level is on a single page, each employee could have it stuck to his or her space as a reminder.

Not a framework per se, but an in depth look at the process and learnings from creating a career path at Spotify.
Another framework for engineers and managers from Square. Again the rubric itself is fairly light on detail, but the accompanying blog post outlines nicely what the company expects and how it administers the framework.
Urban Airship's simple ladder for engineering and operations folk dates back as far as 2013, though it was updated in 2017. It's been forked by vaious other companies during its lifetime.
  • Design
  • Brand Design
VP Global Design at Zendesk Ryan shares the frameworks his team recently rolled out for Designers, Design Managers and brand designers.

Ten levels of seniority (I particularly like 'Distinguished Product Designer' as the most senior IC role) with parallel IC and Manager tracks.

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Further reading