Career advancement is not a one-size-fits-all activity. Depending on your experience level, career goals and personal drive, each journey will look different for each person. To advance your career, you will need to be strategic about your next steps. It will involve a series of good choices and smart connections that will continue throughout your entire career journey.
1. Evaluate your career.
Is your career path well aligned with your priorities, values, and strengths? Do you possess, or can you acquire, the experience and education to become more successful? If not, consider a lateral move and work your way up from there. Even though you might not be getting a raise or moving up in the company, this increased organizational knowledge will position you for future advancement (should you choose to remain at the company).
2. Clearly define your career goals.
Only when you know exactly where it is you want to go, will you be able to map out your plan to get there. Read more about practical goal-setting here.
Download the SMART Goal Worksheet
3. Create a professional development plan.
Determine the steps you need to take for your next promotion. Include resources and due dates. Schedule these activities in your planner and follow through. If you get derailed, don’t despair. Consider the factors that slowed your progression and make the necessary adjustments.
4. Communicate your career goals with management.
If you work in an organization that promotes employee development, communicate your goals with your manager and ask for his or her support. If you are concerned about resistance, find a mentor within the organization that you can trust. Even better, seek out a sponsor who can use their influence to help you advance your career.
5. Volunteer to lead a new project.
This shows initiative, puts you in a visible position and builds new skills. It also gives you the opportunity to showcase your leadership skills.
6. Stay on top of industry trends.
Read industry publications and reports. Be aware of changing trends and position yourself accordingly. Become the Subject Matter Expert (SME) in your organization and offer a short Lunch & Learn session to your colleagues.
7. Retrain or obtain a certification.
Use your industry knowledge to your advantage. Take a course in an up and coming area or a specialty that will benefit your organization and give you an edge over the competition. IT and Management Skills are still the top required skills, so why not enroll in one of these Udemy courses?
- Microsoft Excel – From Beginner to Expert in 6 Hours
- Business Management: Motivating Workers
- Emotional Intelligence at Work
8. Take on a leadership role.
Offer to mentor a junior associate in your organization, apply for a position on a local board, or chair a committee for a nonprofit organization.
Within your organization and within the community. Increasing your visibility and gaining contacts are vital to your success when climbing the corporate ladder. No one ever got to the top alone. Remember that networking is about reciprocity, so always think of ways to give back to others.
10. Be excellent at your job.
Exceptional performance speaks for itself. You won’t get ahead with mediocre performance, regardless of how many other steps you implement. If you want to stand out in the eyes of leadership, become a stand-out in your current role. Be able to quantify your achievements so you can give measurable indications of your success. For example, set a goal to bring in $20,000 worth of new business each month. When that happens, be sure to document it and let your leadership know.