Opportunities come in when you open the doors. Let’s take a look at what you can do to invite the right chances for your career growth. Take these steps and you’ll be set to go in the direction you want.
This may sound completely counter-intuitive. Most career development advice will tell you to make yourself essential, make the job impossible to do without your expertise. That only works short-term.
If you become indispensable to your role, you will trap yourself in it. As a careerist, you want to maximise your chances of being allocated to higher functions and more rewarding positions. Consider the situation from the perspective of your company leadership.
Will they promote a person who converged the role on themselves? Nope. They want to be able to smoothly transfer business to a successor. If they risk loss by moving you up, you’ll get passed over. So plan your career with room for advancement. This is also a safety net.
Linking yourself to the role tells your employers that you aren’t likely to leave them for a competitor. On the other hand, if you’re capable of switching roles anytime, it shows that you aren’t worried about staying. The leadership will try harder to keep your valuable talent, so you’re more likely to receive good incentives.
Keep up with new developments, discoveries, and methods in your chosen industry. There are tons of resources for constant learning, but we can boil it down to theory and practice.
Practice is relatively constricted. It comes down to finding placements within your field that will let you gain experience and, as a lucky bonus, learn something new. So a medical careerist would look for locum doctor recruitment opportunities, an IT careerist would seek out inter-company collaborative projects for networking, etc.
Theory is more versatile. You can consume many kinds of material on a broad range of topics. They don’t have to be industry-specific: anything that might be a perk to your career counts. Learn about history, technology, marketing, social science, economy, art, even pop culture.
Common resources for theoretical career growth tools include:
- Skill courses
- Academic courses
- Managerial training
- Books on self-improvement
Reading self-improvement books is especially favoured in careers which require leadership. A strong leader is seen as the best of a group of equals. To polish yourself to that standard, read about:
- People management
- Resource management
- Influence theory
- Oratory traditions
Get a mentor
There’s that saying about seeing further ahead when you stand on the shoulders of giants. Finding a quality mentor is one of the most effective ways to advance in any career field. Take your time and look for someone who could take you under their wing.
This person could be a senior coworker, your supervisor or team leader, someone from an adjacent department, or your personal friend who happens to work in the same industry.
Your mentor should be able to:
- Give constructive feedback on your work
- Point out your current shortcomings
- Advise you on how to overcome them
- Share tricks fo the trade from their own experience
- Answer your questions and help you navigate professional dilemmas
- Teach you new skills, methods, technologies,and processes
- Show you new perspectives
Invest in soft skills
Remember that people are your greatest resource. Polish your people skills to get the most out of any networking opportunities, in-office contact, and off-the-clock encounters that come your way. Your ability to work well with others can even trump your technical skills. Technical training is often available to likeable candidates.
Soft skills include:
- Communication (including written)
- Critical thinking
Thankfully, there are courses and programs for developing all of these. Look into education opportunities your current employer offers. Consider pursuing some courses or books independently,too.
As a careerist, you must be a flexible risk-taker. Employers capitalise on people’s natural hesitation to switch workplaces. Turn it around on them: you thrive on change. Your goal is to move on to higher or better positions at regular intervals.
If your current company is hesitant to advance you, go to another company. The only consideration you have is for your professional reputation. Always complete your projects. Try to leave on amicable terms and present yourself as a respectful but ambitious professional who knows their own worth.
To sum up, career advancement comes down to dynamism. Be a perpetual learner, be flexible, be ready to up and move on at any point. Don’t fall into the trap of becoming essential to a role. Look for quality mentors. Develop your soft skills to get the most out of your interactions with people in the field. Take advantage of every resource to improve yourself, and focus on regularly getting better positions.