Most young professionals are always looking for the next step in their career and anxiously await their next promotion. An automatic promotion typically doesn’t just happen. No one cares about your career as much as you do, so be proactive and be your best advocate. Here are a few steps to help you take charge of your own career path.
- Self-awareness: Identify your strengths and unique skill sets. Use those strengths to your advantage. Outline your goals and know what it is you are looking for in your career. Know what gives you the greatest joy and fulfillment.
- Areas for development: Outline areas for development before getting the promotion. Look for continuing education or projects that can get you the experience you need. Know what is going on in your industry by continuously reading and talking with other professionals. Be inquisitive.
- Stretch yourself: It’s easy to get too comfortable with our daily routine by working on the same projects over and over. Look for bigger challenges or responsibilities that you can take on. Offer to lead a project, head up a committee or make a presentation. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Raise your personal standards; don’t just do the job, do it better than it’s been done before.
- Be innovative: As you take on a new responsibility, look for ways to improve the process, save money or increase efficiency. Be creative and think differently; offer ideas, and better yet, implement those ideas. Be known as a problem-solver. Apply logic to your work; do more than you are asked to do – do it better and faster. Work smarter, not harder.
- Collaborate: Get insight from others, support your team and help everyone look good at their job. Be the first person to support someone by answering their question or training them on something. Celebrate successes and always give credit to your team. Being a team player and supporting others will always come back to you tenfold.
- Be a leader: Everyone at every level can be a leader. Be the first person to raise your hand when asked to present or share information. Positively approach new opportunities with enthusiasm and determination. Look for opportunities to be up in front of the group; be visible. Build relationships with others, stay drama-free and be engaged (smiling can go a long way). Be that person that everyone can count on.
- Communicate: Make sure that the leadership in your company knows what your career goals are. Frequently share your successes and how you resolved issues. Keep your manager informed of what you are working on and the status of your projects. Share how you are doing the job before being given the title. Always communicate positively and confidently, not complaining, whining or venting. Pay attention to your non-verbal communication; body language often sends a stronger message than verbal communication.
- Be confident: Ask to take on that bigger client/project and assure management that you are confident you can handle it. If you don’t know how to do something, research it and ask others for support; don’t ever say, “I can’t do that”. Train others to do your job; delegate tasks and follow up often. Stay positive. Carry yourself well and always dress the part. Be confident; not arrogant.