Everyone reaches a point in their lives and their careers where they want to get ahead at work. We can only stay in one place, at the same job, for so long before we start to ask what more our employment can offer us. It’s also common to become complacent if we’ve been in a job long enough, especially if you’re comfortable with your current lot in life.
There will always be that nagging feeling though; that subtle spark that says you’re worth more and you deserve more. It’s important to take action before that complacency is allowed to sour into indifference and resentment.
Career progression is different for everyone and much depends on skills, your sector and your drive. However, opportunities will rarely fall right into your lap unless you’ve laid the foundation for your success and let your employers know that you’re ready and willing to take on greater challenges.
Of course, there will always be political situations to negotiate when you’re actively trying to ‘get ahead’, but if you keep these clear steps in mind, you should be reaching the peak of that career ladder in no time.
Before you even begin your march up the ladder, ask yourself if your current company is really equipped to help you achieve your ambitions. The smaller the company, the less chance there will be for advancement and it might be the case that you’ve reached a ceiling in your current role. If you feel like there are few chances for career progression at your current company, it might be time to break through that ceiling. Consider working with a specialist recruitment firm to put the feelers out and see what else is out there. There’s also the chance that if your current employers find out you have been casting glances elsewhere they will realise how valuable you are and consider fast-tracking your advancement.
The path to success is not built by projects – it’s built by people. Get to know not only your bosses but your co-workers and even your bosses’ bosses. We’re not all natural extroverts, so your mileage may vary here, but at least make an effort to get to know your immediate higher-ups, as they will be the ones making the decisions when it comes to promotion. Also, if a company is large, there’s often departmental segregation to contend with. Break out of your work silo and get to know the project leaders and partners who make things happen, regardless of where they work or who they work with.
You might spot a problem before your boss, especially if that boss is more concerned with big picture issues than the day-to-day running of the business. This is where you have the opportunity to step forward and shine. Be proactive, formulate a proposal and be confident with it – always framing it as a solution that will save or make the company money. If you play your cards right, you might even be able to use this method to essentially create your own dream job!
Have the confidence in yourself to apply for new roles as and when they become available. It’s rare that a perfect opportunity will fall out of the sky. You need to be willing to ask questions, take chances and make mistakes. Top recruiters are always looking for risk takers, as those that take greater risks are more likely to have gained more valuable knowledge and experience. See every risk taken as an opportunity to learn something new or make an impression. Take more risks and ask for more responsibilities and you’ll soon find yourself on your way up. Remember, however, to always take accountability for your mistakes; transparency is a key attribute that reveals you might be a risk taker, but that you are also trustworthy.
Finally, always make sure you’re ready for the next level. Get to know the intricacies of the position above you so you not only know what you’re fighting for, but what to do when you get there. A higher level position (particularly a c-suite position) will always entail different responsibilities and will require different skills. Always make sure you are adequately prepared to adapt to these changes, otherwise, you might be in for a rather rude awakening and a steady slide back down to the foot of the ladder!