Drive your career

I’ve worked in organisations which had very structured career paths for employees. Whether you started as a graduate or at a later stage, you knew exactly how you’d be promoted up the career ladder and roughly how long it would take to reach the top.

I’ve worked in other places which had no structured career path, either because the organisation was small or the roles were highly specialised, with no obvious next step. In this situation some employees seemed to thrive and progress, often making quite surprising career moves. Others felt resentful at the lack of opportunities and would either move on elsewhere or remain in the same role becoming bored and disengaged.

I’ve observed some common characteristics among the ‘go-getters’ who seem to find great opportunities regardless of where they work. I believe these principles can be applied by anyone wanting to progress their career.

Give your very best to the job you’re in now

You might be in a job which you find boring or menial. It can be hard to give your best in this situation. However, if you want to be considered for a promotion or a transfer at some stage, your employer will largely assess you on their experience of your performance. Even if your current role doesn’t show all your capabilities, you can still impress by performing it to the best of your ability.

If you think your job is boring or beneath your abilities and you’re doing it half-heartedly, it makes a poor impression and puts you at a disadvantage when being considered for a promotion.

Create your own opportunities

In organisations with no structured career path, employees often complain about the lack of opportunities for progression. If you’ve positioned yourself correctly, you can be ready to take advantage of opportunities when they do come or even create your own.

Don’t wait for your next promotion to be handed to you, as that’s unlikely to happen. If you’re keen to progress or move to a new area within your organisation, make sure that the right people know about your interest. If there are no opportunities for you at the moment, identify what steps you can take to be ready when the time comes. If you want to be promoted, ask your manager for feedback about your strengths and areas for development so you can work on those. If you’re interested in a completely different role, speak to someone who works in that area and find out what skills they look for, then identify ways you can address any gaps.

If you can’t move into a new role you might get the opportunity to add different responsibilities to your current role. This is still career progression because it allows you to build new skills, show how quickly you can learn, and demonstrate to your employer that you will take opportunities when offered.

Be patient but know when to move on

This approach requires patience, as it may take some time for your efforts to result in any change. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your employer just can’t see your potential or isn’t able to offer you anything more than your current role. In that case, it’s important to know when to move on and try somewhere else. The work you put into identifying your interests and developing your skills will put you in a good position for your next move.

When you are ready to move on, don’t give your current employer the impression that you’re already on the way out and don’t care anymore. If you want good references from that employer in future it’s important to stay focused right up until it’s time to leave. The people you’ve worked with in any organisation become part of your career network and may be the source of future opportunities.

If you’d like to find out more about career coaching, contact us.