Advancing in your career can bring higher status, more money, and more personal fulfillment. However, how to achieve this might not always be clear to you, especially if the company where you work doesn’t offer a clear path for advancement. The tips below can help you get ahead.
Choose Your Direction
First, figure out what you want to do, and keep in mind it doesn’t necessarily have to be connected to what you’re doing right now. In fact, if you feel like you’ve been spinning your wheels for a while, it could be because you’d like to be out of the profession you’re in altogether and doing something else. On the other hand, you may be in exactly the right place but just stuck on a particular rung of the ladder. Take a close look at the company you work for and make sure that it’s one where you can move forward. If not, you may need to look at changing jobs to work at a place where mobility is encouraged.
Once you’re on the right path and at a company where promotion is possible, you’ll need to demonstrate that you are someone who should be promoted. You can get feedback during performance reviews and in less formal interactions with your supervisor, but one good way to bring positive attention to yourself is by being an employee who creates solutions. Sometimes this is about anticipating a problem and proactively addressing it rather than waiting for the consequences.
If you work in fleet management, you might have identified tailgating as the top cause of rear-end collisions. You’d want to work on preventing this rather than waiting until such a collision happened in your fleet and then scrambling to limit the damage. You could coach your drivers to keep a safe distance from other vehicles and research how AI dash cams alert drivers when they aren’t observing that distance. These kinds of proactive solutions demonstrate your value to the company and your strong management skills.
Build Skills and Knowledge
Ideally, you’ll have some opportunities within the workplace to do this, but even if you don’t, continuing education programs, online courses and professional certifications are all ways to enhance your skills and make you more marketable to employers. Even if the things you’re learning aren’t directly related to your job, just the process of acquiring knowledge is a valuable one. Besides, you never know when something like learning a new language or other seemingly unrelated skill might come in handy.
Networking and Branding
Networking is useful in most industries. Not everyone is comfortable with the concept, but to be a successful networker, it’s important to understand that it is not about making shallow connections or befriending people simply because they can advance your career. Networking is about relationship building, and the best networkers are sincere in the relationships that they form and genuinely like people. Although the ability to connect with others may come naturally to some people, if it’s something you struggle with, know that it is a skill you can improve just like any other.
A personal brand is best understood by thinking first about business brands. There are certain businesses that you associate with certain qualities or values, such as luxury, integrity, or reliability. A personal brand is similar but applies to you instead of to a business. It’s often something that is developed mostly digitally, particularly via social media.
Developing a personal brand can be very useful for entrepreneurs and in certain industries, such as journalism or public relations. Not every career requires you to build a public facing personal brand, but it’s not a bad way think about how you present yourself at work even if you never touch social media. How do you want your colleagues and managers to think about you? What qualities do you want them to associate with you? How can you embody those qualities in a way to reinforce that association?