Career Navigation Technology 2020

At a Glance

A technology market poised for innovation and impact. Our scan focuses on the millions of workers too often overlooked or underserved by traditional approaches to career navigation.

About the Program

JFFLabs bridges JFF’s traditional field leadership with new relationships, practices, and business models. We partner with visionary entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 companies, and investors to foster innovative solutions that create positive change in education and workforce systems.

Published sep. 29, 2020

About the Market Scan


The economic crisis of 2020 revealed that workers need to follow career paths more defined by variety and near-constant change than consistency.

Building a stable, sustainable working life across the many jobs and industries that make up a contemporary career requires a new set of skills: adaptability, resilience, self-reflection, and self-directed lifelong learning.

What’s clear is that platforms for employers seeking workers are seemingly everywhere, as are tools for corporate workers looking for new professional opportunities. But for the well over half of American workers in entry-level or mid-skill jobs, the process of finding a career is chaotic, seemingly random, and ultimately broken.

Framing career navigation as a lifelong process that involves workers, employers, and other entities, such as schools and workforce boards, Career Navigation Technology 2020 delves into the dynamics shaping the career navigation technology market, identifying innovations, trends, and areas of opportunity. For the first time, advances in technology have the potential to offer all workers meaningful, robust, and personalized supports—and we celebrate the companies that are leading the way.

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This market scan offers a road map through the complex and messy ecosystem of career navigation—for workers, we know this report will give you hope that there are tools out there made just for you—and they could be your key to finding a meaningful and evolving lifelong career journey.

Andrea Mainelli, Senior Advisor, and Adam Newman, Founder & Managing Partner, Tyton Partners

Understanding the Career Navigation Landscape

To make sense of the complex career navigation technology market, our Career Navigation Framework analyzes the tools, platforms, and resources populating this landscape through two interconnected lenses:

  1. Who is using the tool, and who primarily benefits from it? Many tools are expressly designed for employers, others are for jobseekers, and some provide benefits to both parties. Others are built to be used by intermediaries such as education or workforce systems for the benefit of jobseekers, employers, or both.
  2. What goal is the user of the tool trying to accomplish? Our key insight in building this framework was to recognize that workers, employers, and intermediaries are all engaged in versions of the same sets of activities—exploring, connecting to, and landing opportunities.

This framework helps identify an opportunity that innovators are beginning to seize, pushing new technologies beyond the merely transactional step of connecting workers to jobs and employers to job candidates. Advances in technology are allowing many more kinds of information to flow between jobseekers, employers, and intermediaries.

Our Innovators to Watch are on the leading edge of this new frontier of impact for workers.

Innovators to Watch


From the more than 1,000 companies and organizations we reviewed in the recruiting, employment, and career planning sectors, we chose 18 Innovators to Watch.

Innovators to Watch are a select group of organizations that represent market trends and distinguish themselves from other forward-looking companies by their potential to create significant, business-aligned social impact. Each offers a potentially transformative innovation or is led by inspiring founders and teams that we believe in.

Career navigation platforms of the future should be designed to take a more expansive approach to helping users build networks, enabling them recognize and hone the skills that are essential to career navigation, and using “good jobs” criteria to point them toward truly good jobs. To build pathways to opportunity for all, innovative developers of career navigation technologies must design tools that support advancement, not just access. It’s what workers deserve, and—especially in a time of global disruption and crisis—it’s what our economy needs.

Our Support

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