Have you been working in the same job role for a number of years now? Do you feel as though you’re stuck in a career rut? If so, you may well be wondering why you’ve been looked over at work when it comes to promotion – and more importantly, what you can do about it. Whether you’re hoping to rise to the top of your current industry, find a more fulfilling role, or move into a new field entirely, there are lots of different strategies you can employ to help you achieve your dreams.
Below you’ll find some top tactics to help you climb the career ladder, regardless of what industry you’re in. Bear in mind that not all of them will be suitable for you – factors such as your current situation and individual goals will have an impact, as well as how many hours and how much effort you want to put towards this project. So take some time to read through them and consider which are the most appropriate for you. You’re sure to find at least two or three that will be of use!
Be clear about your goals
Before you begin pondering specific tactics for getting promoted, you need to know exactly what your goals are. This might sound obvious, but it’s something we don’t always give much consideration to. Sometimes we’re aiming for a promotion simply because we think we should – not because it’s what we actually want. Start by taking a step back, and imagining where you want to be in three, five and even ten years’ time. Once you know the answer, you can begin a process of reverse engineering to figure out how to get there.
There are a few methods you can employ to help you develop clear and actionable goals. For instance, one popular idea is to use ‘SMART’ goals – ones which are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. As an example, instead of saying your goal is to “get a promotion”, you could say your goal is to “get promoted to assistant manager within the next two years”. See the difference?
Once you’ve set your main goal, another helpful idea is to break it up into a series of mini goals to aim for along the way. This will be useful in keeping you moving in the right direction, tracking your progress, and boosting your motivation. Not sure what your ultimate goal is yet? That’s ok. Set aside some time to brainstorm ideas and get a sense for what you’re truly passionate about. Feel free to dream big, as long as you turn that lofty idea into a SMART goal!
Eight strategies to help you achieve your career goals
Once you know exactly what you’re aiming for, you can move on to thinking about how to achieve it. To help you out, here are eight strategies to inspire you. Pick the ones which are most suitable for you and your goals and get started today!
1. Ensure your résumé is perfect
In many cases, especially when applying for jobs outside of your current company, your résumé is the first chance employers have to find out about you. If it’s not great, it may also be the last. A lot of us rarely look at our résumés, so dig yours out and go over it with a fresh eye. Make sure that it looks tidy and professional, and has the most up-to-date information about your experience, skills and qualifications on there. If you struggle with this, consider having an external agency assess your résumé – they can make genuinely helpful, industry-relevant suggestions about how to improve it and make it stand out from the crowd. It’s also a good idea to set up a LinkedIn profile if you don’t already have one. If you do, be sure to check it over too, and make it as impressive as it can be.
2. Level up your qualifications
Depending on your specific industry and job role, it might be the case that you need a specific qualification in order to be eligible for the promotion you want. In other situations, a qualification might not be necessary but can still be hugely beneficial. The good news is that these days it’s possible to study for an online bachelors degree at the same time as working, which means you don’t have to take a pay cut or career break in order to get qualified. In addition to broadening your knowledge and sharpening your skills, you’ll be demonstrating to potential employers that you’re truly dedicated to your career and your personal development. That’s sure to impress!
3. Follow your own study program
If you don’t have the time or money to commit to a degree, one alternative is to put together a self-study program of your own. That way you can focus on the specific skills and knowledge that are relevant to your goals. A good technique is to begin by identifying a selection of areas which are necessary for the job you want, but that you are currently weak in – those are the ones you should concentrate on improving. There are lots of ways in which you can learn at home, for example by using books from your local library, taking short online courses, or listening to industry podcasts and watching relevant videos. Much of the information you’ll need is available for free these days, so this is a genuinely accessible option to choose.
4. Network, network, network
As the saying goes, it’s not what you know it’s who you know. While this may be a slight exaggeration, it’s certainly true that having contacts in your industry is helpful. It gets your name out there and helps you to discover new opportunities for jobs you might not otherwise have been aware of. Similarly, it can be a great way to share advice, plus discuss the latest ideas and developments in your field. All of this can give you an edge when it comes to interviews. Lastly, it’s also a wonderful way to make friends! Try attending some interesting conferences or workshops and striking up a conversation with a stranger. You never know where it might lead.
5. Work with a mentor
When networking alone isn’t enough, you might want to consider working with a mentor. This is someone who helps with your professional development over a long time period, offering advice and support to improve the chances of you achieving your goals. It could be someone in your current workplace, but by no means needs to be. One great tactic if you’re looking for a mentor is to reach out to people who currently have the sort of job you are aiming for. Send a polite email or a message over social media, with a concise pitch about what you’re looking for – and what you can bring to the partnership in return. Ask if they’d be willing to meet up for coffee and a chat, or to arrange a video call. They’re sure to be flattered that you approached them, and the worst that can happen is they politely turn you down and you move on to the next person.
6. Build your transferable skills
So far we’ve talked about improving your industry knowledge and specialist skills. However, it’s also important to work on your more general abilities too. That means transferable skills which are useful in every job role, such as communication, teamwork, leadership, critical thinking, organization, time management, mediation, negotiation and so on. These are not the sort of areas in which you need official qualifications, but you can still find plenty of online resources such as blogs, videos and even courses to help you out. So have a think about which of your soft skills are weakest and start working on them! Putting in the effort will enable you to become a more well-rounded employee, and make a great impression on your colleagues, bosses and clients.
7. Do some volunteering
If you’re struggling to find a way to improve your skills, volunteering is a wonderful avenue to consider. Not only is it effective, but it also allows you to make a meaningful contribution to your local community. The specific options open to you will depend on where you live, but you could consider approaching local charities and nonprofit organizations, or even your child’s school. Another possibility is to see if there’s any volunteer assistance you can provide from home, such as helping with a charity’s website or writing blog posts for them. Whatever you choose, it’s guaranteed to make an impressive addition to your résumé.
8. Change your mindset
Lastly, let’s talk about mindset. In order to truly move your career forward you must be 100% dedicated to the task. For example, instead of wasting time scrolling through social media, you should be listening to industry podcasts or reading articles that are relevant to your goals. You can pick up all sorts of useful tidbits of advice this way, and also ensure you stay up to date with all the latest developments. It might sound intimidating, but the more you do it the more it will become a habit. Similarly, it’s also vital to have a positive attitude. After all, if you don’t believe you’re good enough for that promotion, how can you expect your boss to?