Career advancement is always at the back of our minds and it can come in many shapes and sizes. This might include advancing in your current company or branching out to a new one, or taking on additional responsibilities in your existing position. As with most things in life, however, those who fail to prepare should plan to fail.
Here, we’ve singled out the five key landmarks you should be placing on your career progression roadmap for 2019 to help you plant a solid foundation from which to build your immediate future.
Having an end goal in sight is always important, but you also need to match that goal to a realistic timeline. Otherwise, it can either seem too close or too far away to conquer. A goal gives you something to achieve and a timeline will keep you on the right path at a reasonable pace. The ‘5-year career plan’ has become a bit of a cliché, but 5 years is a sensible timeline for most long-term goals. It’s just close enough to not seem like it’s a lifetime away, but is far enough away to give you some breathing room.
You should also pepper your timeline with more tangible and less ambitious short-term goals or break down that final goal into a number of steps. This will help you understand what skills will be required, who can help you – or whether you’ll need to move to another company in order to take that step.
In a highly competitive jobs market, recruiters are looking for employees that can ‘do the job’ and have the requisite experience and skills. That being said, they are also looking for creative thinkers. Develop a career identity that values creativity and innovation and always keep an eye out for new ideas.
Proving that you can solve problems and use critical and independent thinking to analyse a situation and learn from it are key tools that recruiters look for at an interview.
We are all generally terrible at judging our own successes, so feedback is crucial at any level of your career. You shouldn’t just listen to the feedback of your superiors, but also of your peers. They might be in the same boat as you, but they could also offer a fresh perspective on your career that you might otherwise miss. Additionally, tapping into your network of friends, family members and colleagues is always recommended. Nepotism is rife in every major business sector, so don’t feel ashamed to leverage it when you can.
If you feel like your goals won’t be met in your current role, consider working with a recruitment company to help find you the right position at a more suitable company. Rather than working with a generic recruitment firm, search for a specialist recruitment agency that has expertise in your field such as Leighton Taylor. It’s an agency that specialises in recruitment at all levels of the professional services sector.
An old chestnut, but one that still bears repeating. You won’t always win and you won’t always get where you need to be on the first attempt. Strength of character is something that can be nurtured by a desire to focus on your goals and a willingness to evolve your situation to suit shifting circumstances. Setbacks can be learning experiences. If you can prove you have bounced back from one of these setbacks, it will look very good on a cover letter and will certainly impress specialist recruiters looking for employees with substance and grit.
Finally, always remember that one person’s success could be another person’s admission of defeat. Everyone will have a different idea about what success will look like and feel like to them. For some, it could mean reaching the very top of the ladder and claiming an executive role, but for others, it could simply be landing a job that allows them to be flexible with their time and achieve that highly coveted work/life balance.
Ask yourself what is most important to you. There are certain things that might seem important now, but they might not seem as important in a few years. Always think long-term, and don’t feel ashamed if your idea of success might look different from the idea of success espoused by your friends or colleagues. Many of us only get one career, and that career is always going to belong to you and nobody but you.