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Career advancement is the process of moving through various organizations and/or positions in pursuit of your ultimate professional goals. There are many motivations behind advancing one’s career, including the desire to be a boss or leader, the inclination to expand one’s skillset, the pursuit of expertise in a certain field, and more. Here are 6 habits that can help you start advancing your career right now.
Maybe the most important foundational behavior, when it comes to advancing your career, is to make your intentions known. It’s critical that others (especially your supervisor) know what you’re working toward and what your goals are. Be honest and direct with your manager about your desire for growth and new opportunities, they are probably aware of more openings thank you are. Consider asking for more responsibility, volunteering for special projects, or offering coaching and support to peers or trainees. All of these actions will go far in reinforcing your intentions and showing your boss that you’re serious.
Confidence is developed through practice and earned through experience. Start practicing now and you’ll find your way to those new experiences. When pursuing new spaces, relationships, and communities, it’s critical to get comfortable talking about yourself. It can be intimidating to promote yourself, but promotions can be competitive, and you have goals you’re trying to reach! Make a habit of dressing the part and work on presenting yourself in a polished and mature manner.
You are surrounded by resources including your peers, leaders, and mentors. They have seen your work and they know what it’s like to work with you. Use them to gain valuable insight into your skills, strengths, weaknesses, and specific moments where you have championed a special project or stood out as a member of a team. Use these insights to better promote your skillset and to guide your consideration of new opportunities.
There are many ways to increase your involvement at your current job. Many companies post job listings internally so employees can be the first to apply for new openings. Additionally, talk to leaders, managers, and mentors about experiences like special committees, planning teams, and other staff-led projects. Finally, keep learning! Explore your interests and seek out additional training and education in areas that are interesting to you and relevant to your position.
Mentors are individuals who partner with younger or less experienced professionals to offer coaching, support, and advice. Mentors typically want to teach and guide you through experiences and new approaches. Sponsors, on the other hand, are a new type of professional relationship where those in higher positions advocate for individuals who are not present. Sponsors may take risks for you, recommend you for projects, or help you build other influential relationships. Seek out mentors and sponsors at networking events and within leadership communities at your company or other organizations you’re involved in.
Finally, one of the larger and more involved recommendations is to create a vision for your career advancement. Define what success looks like for you and build out a game plan to pursue your dream career development. Once you have explored and imagined the ideal outcome, you can backtrack to create goals and lay plans for achieving those goals. Feel free to use the suggestions in this blog as a starting point!
The world of career advancement can feel overwhelming for a young professional. Remember that you can start small, even within your own imagination. Start brainstorming what you want your career path to look like – what is your degree in, what are your other interests, do you like a job that’s straight-forward or one that’s complex, etc.? Ready to get out of your head? Maybe up your work wardrobe tomorrow, tell your boss you’re starting to think about your career track, find a free graphic design class for beginners. Small steps build momentum and the only way to start, is to start.