For most people it is would be unusual to begin their career at the stage they wanted to stay at, which makes progression an important part of any career path.
There are many reasons for a desire to progress, though most boil down to wanting greater financial reward, a bigger challenge, more responsibility and the opportunity to travel.
You will need to decide whether you are looking to stay within one company that offers good career progression opportunities for a significant period of time, or you wish to move from company to company every few years.
What does progression look like?
The days of a job for life have pretty much long gone, and with it the traditional career ladder.
It is unlikely you will spend your whole career climbing up, there will be times where you will sidestep into a different avenue before progressing again. However, a lateral move is by no means a bad thing. It can put you in an area where there are more avenues for progression than before and give you opportunities to learn and develop new skills.
What should I look for in a company I want to progress in?
Depending on the reason behind your desire to progress you will need to look for different company traits.
If you are looking to gain more responsibility as quickly as possible then you should look for a rapidly expanding business - the more it grows the more people will need to be managed.
Again, a smaller, growing company is more likely to offer more challenges and learning opportunities than a much larger company with stricter role constraints.
However, a company that has been around for longer and is more stable might be more financially secure and be able to offer much more lucrative financial packages.
If travel is important to you, you may wish to look for a company that is either international or trades worldwide.
How do I get promoted?
- Make it know
Make it clear to seniors that this is your plan; you should be having meetings twice a year with your direct manager about your career goals within the company.
- Make a plan
Sometimes luck plays a huge part in success, but often a lot of planning and hard work has gone into it. Having a career map or timeline can help you recognise if you are where you want to be when you want to be there. If not then you can use your plan to ascertain whether changes need to be made.
- Speak to HR
You should also speak to your HR team; some companies have formal management ‘tick charts’ where there are certain tasks or qualifications you must complete before you can progress to the next stage. Find out if this is the case and what you need to do to progress. You may find out while there is an unlikely to be an opening in your current department for sometime, there is a role coming up elsewhere in the company.
You should always be networking even within your own company. The more people you know and form good relationships with the more likely you are to hear about and be offered new opportunities.
- Take on extra responsibility
Always look for extra avenues where you can take on extra responsibility.This could be helping a manager with an extra project, organising a mentor scheme / charity drive / social event or anything where you can demonstrate managerial skills.
It is important not to take on too much though, you don’t want to overdo it or be seen to be unable to work under pressure.
- Be flexible
If the promotion needs you to relocate or train in another avenue you should be open to this.
- Help your superiors succeed
Know the goals of your manager, their manager and the company, and align yours with theirs. Help them complete them.
- Keep a record
Record every success AND every failure. If it comes to negotiating a deal at a later date it is obviously a good idea to be able to reel off the things you have achieved. However, it is likely something along the way may not have gone to plan so you must be able to say what you have learnt from this, or how you averted a crisis. It is better you bring it up than someone else does.
- Become an expert
If you can become a trusted resource on your sector your value to any company will rocket and your desirability and visibility to others will increase.
With the avenue of social media networks like LinkedIn it has become much easier to present yourself as an expert within your field. Use it, or other mediums, to share content that demonstrates your knowledge of your job role and the industry surrounding it.
Will studying a qualification help me progress?
A qualification can allow you to remain competitive in your industry and keep you at the forefront of industry and market trends.
It will also help you to broaden your skillset and thus importance to an employer.
Certain professional qualifications are so highly regarded by employers that many offer training budgets or financial help, so it is important to talk to HR before you apply.
Depending on the length of your course, you may be able to take time out of work to study or balance it with your employment by studying in the evenings and / or weekends.
By studying as you work you are not only demonstrating your desire to equip yourself with the necessary skills to flourish and progress in your career, but also that you have the time management skills and dedication to study whilst in employment.
Do I want to really want to progress right now?
For many people it is ingrained into them to shield up the career ladder as fast as possible, but before putting the wheels in motion it is important to think long and hard about what a promotion could actually mean.
- Greater responsibility
You will now have much more important decisions to make, some of which you may not wish to, but will have to. You will need to think about how you would feel it you had to make an unpopular decision, for example making redundancies. If this is something you could not do then progressing at this stage might not be the right move for you.
- Time commitments
Progression can sometimes mean working longer hours. Is this something your life can accommodate right now? And while you should be earning more money, will the extra hours mean you are effectively working for less money per hour?
- More travel
A promotion can often mean more travel to attend important meetings either in or out of the country. You must think about whether this is something you actually want. Business trips can often seem glamorous to begin with, but can fade rapidly once you have to forgo other commitments to network on the other side of the world.