While some companies proactively develop their employees, many don’t. You need to actively manage your career and advancement. Your skills and knowledge are important parts of the picture you present to employers. Here are suggestions to identify desirable career paths and market yourself within your own organization.
Assess the Options
Do an environmental scan to assess whether advancing in your current organization is both desirable and feasible. Then, develop a plan to position yourself for professional growth.
- Does the organization have career paths/positions that match my goals?
- Is there room at the top? How often do the roles I’m targeting become available?
- Does my organization have a culture that promotes from within?
- Will my supervisor and other key leaders support or at least not undermine my efforts to advance?
- Are there mechanisms in place to facilitate career growth: defined career paths, training or professional-development support?
- Does the company’s culture match my values and work style?
- Do I feel at home with/enjoy the people I work with or would work with?
- Do I feel comfortable navigating the political landscape of my company?
Develop an Advancement Plan
Network to Learn
- Get to know people outside of your immediate department or office. Learn what other people do, how other departments are structured and how they interrelate.
- Seek the insight of leadership regarding current and future company needs, leadership competencies and in-demand skills.
- Network with alumni to learn more about job functions and companies that are similar to yours.
- Look for people who are in the jobs to which you aspire. Research their career paths on LinkedIn and connect with them to seek their advice on how to make the transition.
- Ask to do a 360° assessment or conduct an informal one on your own to gather candid feedback on how you are perceived in the organization and how you might improve your image or brand.
- Understand the kind of environment in which you function best and explore if there are other managers with work styles more compatible with yours.
Identify Transferable Skills
- Identify the skills that have led to your success so far.
- Match the top three to five skills and attributes you possess to the major qualifications required for the position you seek.
- Spend time reflecting on the company culture and the personal attributes and skills that tend to earn advancement.
Express Your Interests
- Discuss your aspirations with your boss to seek their support, feedback and advice.
- Use feedback from your performance reviews to identify how you can add additional value and increase your contributions.
- Write an action plan that addresses areas in need of improvement and that leverage your strengths.
- Arrange follow-up meetings to discuss your progress.
Grow Your Skills & Gain Visibility
- Take advantage of opportunities to learn new skills, apply current skills in new ways and contribute in areas outside of your current role.
- Actively participate in committees and task forces to which you are assigned. Seek ways to become more involved if you are not assigned to these roles.
- Take advantage of professional development opportunities such as training classes and certifications.
- Volunteer to develop or train others.