Are you focused on career advancement, or is it not your priority?
For many of us, having a secure job to go to each week is important and career is not much of an interest. It may not be an issue until we start to feel discontent at work. When this happens, we naturally start to look for another job.
By this time, desperation has often crept in and we go into reaction mode. We become impatient for change and may jump out of the frying pan into the fire.
The more interested we are in career advancement, the less likely we are to get to that stage. This is because we make conscious and objective choices, and we are more proactive about them.
There are many benefits to advancing our career. These include salary raises, increased work satisfaction, travel opportunities, building skills, and personal growth. All of these contribute to our quality of life in general.
For many people, career advancement happens organically. I know it always did for me. It was not something I consciously pursued; my employers just saw potential in me. I guess, in a way, I was lucky.
But for most of us, if it is something we want, then we need to make a conscious choice.
If you’ve had an intention to advance your career from the onset, you possibly have a good idea where you’re heading and how to get there. But if you’re new to the concept, you may not know where to start.
Because of this, I have put together what I consider to be 9 powerful steps to achieve career advancement
1. Set An Intention to Advance Your Career
Starting with the outcome in mind is always a good place to start when you want to achieve something.
Forbes magazine says that it is about defining what success is in your career. Success is different for everyone, so it is important to make this clear from the beginning.
This can be challenging from the onset, especially if you are not really sure. But if you spend time exploring this early, it will guide you to make the right decision and help you choose the right company to work for and roles most appropriate for you.
Even more essential is to regularly check in with your intentions at different points throughout your career path. This will help you see if it is still relevant to what you want as you change and grow. Because what you want now will more likely be very different from what you want in five years.
A favorite interview question is, “What is your five-year plan?”
This is because it is helpful to know this when your potential employer makes a decision. It is also beneficial for you because it gives you direction and helps you make effective decisions.
Imagine how you want your career to look like five years from now. Think about how this may benefit your whole life. Remember that your career is just a part of your life; it is important that it benefits your life in general.
2. Explore What You Enjoy
The more we enjoy our work, the more satisfied we feel. And increasing job satisfaction gives us more potential for career advancement. We become more productive when we see greater opportunities that lead us to be noticed.
In general, we enjoy what we are good at, but that is not always the case. Sometimes, we develop strengths just because we have been doing them for a long time, or we have been trained well.
My career is probably a really good example of this. I am strong in numbers and was a skilled bookkeeper. Yet, I have chosen a career in human services. This career is the love of my life, and I have been very successful in it.
It’s also easier to learn new skills when they are related to what you enjoy. Even out of comfort zone skills become more doable. For instance, I was a C grade student in English, and now I have become a skilled writer because I write about my passion.
We can be doing something for years without fully enjoying our work. Getting clear on what most lights you up from the inside and working with that creates fulfilment. This contributes to your prospects of career advancement.
Write a list of all the things you have enjoyed, even what you loved to do as a child. Look for a common thread that could be part of your career.
3. Be a Forward Thinker in Your Job Choice
If career advancement was not on your horizon before, you might be in the pattern of accepting a job just because it is offered. It is easy to do, especially if you are unhappy in your current workplace.
Doing this can eventually lead to more of the same; even if you are happy in the role, to begin with. This can limit your career and even set you back for a few years.
When you have a big picture outcome for your career, you can use a simple process to ensure you make choices serving that outcome. This can fast track your career success.
For each role or job that interests you, check for its alignment with the bigger picture.
Look for where it can contribute to your ultimate goal and how you can use it as a stepping-stone. For example, will it mean you have to learn new skills or open you up to new networks? Is there potential for promotion or not?
4. Do Not Keep Your Plans a Secret
In business, there is a fantastic saying:
“You can be really good at what you do, but if it’s a secret you won’t attract clients.”
The same goes for career advancement. You can have wonderful plans for professional growth, but keeping it a secret delays your development.
When you have decided what you want to achieve in your career, it is a good idea to let the appropriate people know. This might mean being prepared for that “5-year plan” question at your interview and answering honestly. Or actually ask if there are opportunities for career advancement.
And if you are in a company you love working for, let your superior know your aims. Freely sharing this information and asking them to keep you in mind puts you on their radar. This makes them more likely to give you the chance to develop yourself or trust you with extra responsibilities.
As you take on more, it gives you a chance to show what you are capable of. And this puts you in the forefront for future opportunities.
5. Stand Out by Believing in Yourself
When we believe in ourselves, it increases our self-confidence. And we all know that confident people tend to stand out in the workplace.
Believing in yourself and what you are capable of also leads others to believe in you too. This makes you more likely to be considered for promotion when it becomes available.
We are all very good at noticing our negative qualities. Many of us are also very talented at beating ourselves up for those things. This lowers our self-belief and in turn, our self-confidence.
When we flip this pattern and notice our wonderful qualities instead, our self-belief increases. Plus, our superiors are more likely to notice those strengths too.
One of the greatest self-confidence boosting exercises I like to do is writing a list of all your amazing qualities in a journal. Then write a list of all the things you are good at. Allow yourself plenty of time to do this and keep coming back to it as the answers come to you.
You will be astonished at how much you have on your list. And you may realize that you are a great catch for any employer.
6. Identify Your Strengths Using Profiling Tools
Profiling tools are a fantastic way to identify what we are good at. It can cut out the guess-work, and it hones in on our professional strengths. These days, there are many different types available.
Extended DISC is a tool I have used for myself and my clients for a long time. I prefer this method because it doesn’t pigeon hole us. Instead, it helps us build on the strengths and developmental areas that we naturally have.
This profiling tool is based on the works of Carl Jung and William Marston. It helps us build on our strengths and modify our behaviors to improve our performance. And when we improve our performance, we increase our opportunity for career advancement.
We can identify our strengths by writing our own list in a journal. We can also ask our work colleagues or honest friends to help us with this. Other people close to us can often see our strengths easier than we can.
Once you know your strengths, identify ways to build on them to improve your performance. You can try to volunteer for responsibilities where your strengths can be utilized.
7. Be Prepared to Level Up Your Knowledge and Skills
For every strength, there is an underside, and we must work on those to increase our opportunities.
Einstein’s definition of insanity is:
“Doing the same thing and expecting a different result.”
This means that if we want to advance our career, we might need to do different things and learn new skills. We can also develop in areas that we are not that strong at.
Be willing to study further to support your career advancement. In many instances, the company you work for will chip in with the financial side. But if not, be happy to fund it yourself. After all, it is for your own benefit.
Also, volunteering for extra responsibilities that are out of your comfort zone allows you to learn new skills. You can sometimes do this by offering to cover someone when they are away or on holiday.
8. Show That You Want to Advance Your Career
We can have the best skills in the world, but if our outer image does not reflect our inner success, we can still be passed over when it comes to promotion.
Our image gives others an impression of our personal brand. Our personal brand is what we stand for, which includes our qualities, beliefs, and values. Therefore, it is important to look the part.
Sally Mlikota from CBC Staff Selection says it is important to dress for success. Research conducted by various career agencies showed that 65% of hiring managers say that clothes can be the deciding factor between two similar candidates in an interview.
I believe this also applies when already working in a company you want to advance in. Promotion really is like applying for a new job.
Think about the new role you want and the responsibilities along with it. Consider the qualities, values, and strengths the role might require. Do you have those attributes, and if not, how will you develop them?
And once you have those qualities, how would you dress and present yourself? A personal stylist can also help you with this.
This is not about becoming something you are not. It’ is about developing and building on who you already are. Then, acting and dressing as if you already have the role.
9. Find a Good Mentor to Help You Advance Faster
For anything we want to achieve, there is always someone else who has already done it. And if we have a successful career, we are often eager to share how we did it.
Achieving success in anything involves making mistakes and overcoming many challenges. Working with a mentor or a coach can help you minimize these and fast track your career success.
That is why many network marketers do so well. They always have mentors on hand to tell them step by step how they did it.
You can find a mentor in your current workplace, or you can meet them while networking.
In my experience, networking in appropriate circles always expands opportunities. It gives us the chance to get to know people. And this allows us to make the best choices.
When deciding on a mentor, make sure that the person has the results you want. Just because someone has the kind of role you want doesn’t necessarily mean they are doing it well. It’s essential to build the relationships first, so you can get to know the person before you decide.
Lastly, don’t be shy about it. Just ask them. More often than not, you will find they feel honored.
To Sum It Up
We spend many hours at work each week. For that reason, it is vital that we feel satisfied with our roles. Feeling happy at work has a positive effect on our health and every relationship we have both at work and personally.
There are two choices:
You can either take it as it comes and change jobs when you feel unhappy. This means leaving it to chance, and you might never feel long-term fulfillment.
Or, you can consciously choose career advancement and know where you are heading. This one has positive effects on all aspects of your life, not to mention the potential increases in salary.
Which one will you choose?