The Top 10 Steps for Career Advancement
By Brad Taft, MBA, CMF, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Chief Career Strategist, Taft Career Group
To be an effective Career Strategist, you need to constantly be looking for ways to advance your career. If you’re starting to be bored and unchallenged in your current job, it’s time to make a change. That can come about in one of three ways:
1. Change the responsibilities and scope of your current job.
2. Get promoted to a new job at your current organization.
3. Locate a new job at a new company.
It’s up to you to take control of your career and progress in your field. Here are 10 proven strategies to support you in advancing in your career:
1 Conduct Your Own Performance Appraisal
Give yourself a performance appraisal every 4 to 6 months to determine the status of your professional and personal development. This may coincide with your company’s formal performance process, but you need to develop your own assessment. Are you meeting or exceeding the objectives of your job? Is it meeting your needs in terms of allowing you to gain the skills, knowledge, and experience necessary to grow?
2 Meet with Your Boss and Discuss Changes
Go to your boss, get their perspective on your performance, and discuss how changes in your responsibilities can improve your value to the company. By stressing that you want your job performance to meet the company’s goals, you are displaying your worth as a team player who wants to contribute to the success of the department and the company. Share your own career goals and determine the level of support your boss has to help you achieve them. If you sense a lack of congruity between your goals and the ability of the company to support you, then it’s probably time for you to discreetly initiate a job change.
3 Be Open Minded and Innovative
Consider new ways of looking at your work and be on the lookout for trends that affect it. Think outside the box and find creative solutions to problems. Embrace innovation and the risk-taking that comes along with it.
4 Find a Mentor and Build a Board of Advisors
Invite someone to be your mentor whom you respect and can support your career advancement. Develop a mutually beneficial relationship by offering to help them, such as doing a research project on a topic of interest to both of you. Create a “Board of Advisors” made up of people with expertise in different fields who can provide advice and support to you on an on-going basis.
5 Improve Your Communication and Interpersonal Skills
Effective communication skills are essential to career success. Be a good listener in addition to practicing to be an effective speaker. Join a Toastmasters Club (Toastmasters.org) near you to sharpen your public speaking skills. What is your “Likeability Index?” The successful job candidate not only possesses the skills and knowledge to do a job, but is likeable. Respect others’ opinions, be personable, and show a genuine interest in others.
6 Make Learning a Life-Long Activity
Learning doesn’t stop after your formal education ends. Strive to keep gaining knowledge and skills not only in your chosen field, but in other endeavors as well. Determine if a new certification or degree will help you advance in your career, and stay up on trends affecting your field.
7 Network the Right Way
Develop and maintain an effective personal and professional network by not only meeting new people, but by developing meaningful relationships with others. Networking is a two-way street: ask for advice from others and ask them how you can assist them. Don’t just join professional organizations to attend meetings and conferences; become an active member and take on a leadership position. Meet people and decide if it is to your advantage to add them to your referral network. Then develop and maintain meaningful relationships with them by staying connected.
8 Promote Yourself and Your Personal Brand
When you gain a major accomplishment or take part in successful projects, let people inside and outside of your organization know about it. Keep people informed of your achievements through LinkedIn, other appropriate Social Media, and your own website. Gain and maintain visibility in your field by making presentations, writing articles, and maintaining a blog.
9 Build and Guard Your Reputation
Have a reputation for being professional, dependable, and going out of your way to support others. Create a memorable and positive image by acting and dressing professionally.
10 Be Prepared for a Bump in the Road
A mentor of mine had two pieces of advice for me: “Control what you can control, and manage the rest” & “Start a ‘Go to Heck’ (he used another word) Fund by saving 10% of your compensation.” Things are not always going to go your way. Be resilient, realize that change is constant, especially in our careers, and be prepared to move on, even if it means quitting a job for the right reasons before you’ve secured a new one. Always be planning a transition strategy to achieve your next opportunity, so you will continue to advance in your career.
Author, consultant, and public speaker, Brad Taft is the Chief Career Strategist of Taft Career Group in Scottsdale, AZ, a career management consulting firm that supports individuals in planning and implementing effective job search campaigns. He is also Managing Director of Taft Vocational Experts LLC which provides expert witness services in employment-related lawsuits.
Brad brings a passion to his work in supporting people who are at a cross-roads in their career. He facilitates career decision-making, helps individuals communicate their talents and interests to prospective employers, and develops strategic campaigns for people to land new career opportunities.
Learn more about Brad and his career transition services at www.TaftCareerGroup.com. Contact Brad directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, 480-315-0372.