5 Things You Can Do To Advance Your Career
To advance your career, you need to have a plan. Career advancement comes in many forms, from climbing the corporate ladder to taking on more responsibility in your current role. Regardless of what you’re striving to achieve, it’s not possible unless you have a plan to guide you along the way. Creating a career roadmap will provide you with this plan and a foundation to help you advance your career.
Define what success looks like for you.
Everyone has their own personal definition of success. For some people it might be reaching the C-Suite and getting a coveted executive role, and for others it could be finding a career that allows them to spend more time with their family. There’s no right or wrong way to define success - it looks different for everyone. What matters is that you're able to define it for yourself.
Think about what’s most important to you in your career now, and what you want your career to look like in the future. What you’re striving for now may look different than what you want in five or ten years. Thinking long term will help you define your version of success.
Once you've defined success, it's time to turn it into an action. Create a chart with where you are right now in your career and where you want to be in one, five, and ten years. Fill in each of the first five years with the position and title you want to have for that given year. Keep this document handy - it's the beginning of your career roadmap.
Establish goals and a timeline.
Goals and a timeline go hand in hand. Without a timeline, it’s much harder to achieve your goals. Without goals, a timeline is simply a schedule. Using them together is how you achieve success. The goals you set give you something to strive for, and the timeline keeps you accountable and on track to achieve them.
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Refer to your career roadmap and take a look at your plans for years one through five. These are your biggest long-term goals. To accomplish these big goals, you’ll need to break them down into smaller, more manageable short-term goals. Consider the steps you need to take to reach the next level in your career. What skills will you need to learn? Who in your network can help you develop? Will you be able to reach the your goal at your current company?
Really take the time to analyze and think critically about your this. There's no limit to how many short-term goals you can create, but a general rule of thumb is more is better than less. Once you’ve identified both your long and short-term goals, it’s time to add them to your career roadmap. The more detailed your plan is, the easier it will be to stay on track to meet all of your goals.
Seek out feedback.
Feedback is a way to measure your progress and make sure you’re on the right path to achieving your goals. If you only have formal reviews twice per year, schedule a check in meeting with your manager in between reviews. Don't limit feedback to just coming from your superiors. It should also come from your peers, as they offer a different perspective and point of view.
Ask your peers to assess your strengths and weaknesses or provide specific feedback from a time you worked together. If you’re in a management role, ask your employees for critiques as well. The more diverse your sources of feedback are, the more you’ll learn from them.
Be open with your manager.
There are usually many more opportunities for advancement than you realize. Talk to your manager and see what career possibilities exist within the company. Share your goals with them and see how they can help you achieve them. By talking to your manager and letting them know your aspirations, you’re putting yourself on their radar. If they’re supportive, they’ll offer you help and advice to help you reach your goals.
Use your network.
The only way to advance your career, no matter what your goal is, is to have help and support from others. Tap into your network for every stage of the process. When you’re thinking about your definition of success, talk to your mentor or a trusted advisor. When you’re creating your long-term goals, talk to your manager to see what the possibilities for advancement are. Once you’ve identified what you want to do next, seek out people that are currently in that role and ask them about it. The more information you can get, the clearer your action plan becomes.
All together, these actions help you create your career roadmap, which in turn becomes your action plan and guide to career advancement. Remember that it’s not set in stone, and you can update it with new goals at any time. A career path is not a straight line from point A to point B, so don’t feel that you have to follow a rigid set path to get there.