What’s the best way to advance your career? If you want to do bigger and better things is there a right or wrong way to go about it? Is education the answer? Should you network and make contacts? Is the best way to advance through self-improvement or is there another way? We’ll look at those questions and give real answers. As you might suspect, the real solutions are mostly within you.
Taking That Next Career Step
Everyone wants to advance their career. Most people want the perks, prestige and pay that come with a better title and more power. The place where many aspirants come up short, however, is being ready for the increased responsibility of a career boost. Everyone wants the throne but not the weight of the crown.
On the other hand, for people who go into career advancement with their eyes wide open the extra exposure is a blessing. They enjoy the attention and added scrutiny. Swimming in bigger waters energizes them and drives their passion. The difference between the two personality-types is usually one of preparation. The unprepared person dreads the spotlight, and may never seek advancement. The person who is prepared relishes the opportunity and sees it as a natural progression.
How To Advance: Six Basic Steps
1. Learn New Skills
To lay the groundwork for your career advancement there are three obvious places to start.
- Learn On The Job – Start at the beginning. There are probably skills and capabilities you have yet to master in your current position. Even if you’re planning to change careers or locations, there may be something to be gained by adopting extra skills at your current post.
- Increase Your Education – Going back to school or taking some classes is a tried and true way to gain knowledge and skills. Some career advancements can only be achieved by getting advanced degrees at accredited schools. If you have the time and money, make the investment. It’s easier to advance with higher education in your background.
- Add To Your Certifications – Certifications in your chosen field keep you up to date. Add these to your list of capabilities to open doors and get you noticed.
2. Work On Something Extraordinary
You’ve got to stand out or make a mark if you’re going to advance. Just going to work and doing your everyday job doesn’t get it done. You must be involved with a project or initiative that grabs the attention of people who can promote or hire you. We’ve all heard phrases like ‘career-making’ or ‘career-breaking’. Most major projects can be described either way. If you’re successful you get the former designation. If you fail you get the latter. Don’t let a high-profile assignment intimidate you. Fortune doesn’t just favor the bold; it rewards them.
3. Improve Your Lifestyle And Habits
Any success begins with you. You must become a different person if you want to be treated differently. There are several things you can do to improve yourself.
- Organize Better – Develop a system to make your life more orderly, at home and at work. If you’re more efficient, there’s a better chance you’ll advance quickly.
- Focus On Success – Make your actions reflect your desire to succeed. People should begin to see you as someone who’s thinking about a higher position in life.
- Develop Proper Routines – Getting into successful habits may be the most important thing you can do. More then three fourths of our lives is done habitually. If your patterns and habits create a successful environment, you’ll be better positioned when the big moments arrive.
- Dress For Success – It may sound petty, but people react to you based upon your appearance. If you seem slovenly or disheveled, it’s likely no one imagines you as management material. You must look ready to take the higher position if it’s offered to you.
- Stay Healthy – An often-neglected component of success is personal health. You can’t keep up with the pace of a successful career if you’re slowed down by sickness or infirmity.
4. Show More Leadership
To be in line for success you have to put yourself out there. Be the person people turn to when they’re looking for answers. To be thought of as a leader you actually have to show more leadership. Any advanced career path will require you to take charge of important situations. Begin by wielding power at work right now. There will be circumstances when you can take initiative or show an ability to lead. When you see those opportunities step into them. Learn good conflict management skills to be an effective administrator. Develop good management habits to become an obvious fit for management titles.
5. Improve Your Networking
Be in contact with people who can help you advance. They can come from a variety of sources.
- Coworkers – The people working next to you are an invaluable resource. As coworkers you are each other’s eyes and ears. Your coworkers see and hear things you don’t. Talk to them often, so it’s not just your ear pressed to the ground.
- Mentors – You’ll learn a lot from people who have advanced knowledge. Get someone to show you the ropes and guide you on the proper path.
- Heroes – There are some people who stand head and shoulders above the rest. They’re not just mentors; they are giants in their field. Try to work with someone who’s well regarded and prominent. At the very least you should know who they are and emulate their steps.
- Organizations – Every career has an organization that represents it. Some careers have several such groups. Get in contact with them, and join the ones that matter. These organizations have valuable insight and resources that make your advancement easier.
6. Use Your Current Job Tools
There are perks to every job. Chances are you’re not using the benefits available to you. Does your job have a database that references advanced placement? Are there people in human resources or management whose job requires them to help workers advance? You may be able to use time off or travel perks that come with your job. Whatever resources are at your disposal, take advantage of them to help yourself advance.