How to progress your career within your organisation

Most managers and staff find being promoted up the career ladder extremely stressful and one of the toughest and most frustrating challenges that they have had to overcome ranking with coping with divorce a CIPD report highlighted in 2008.

Also, don’t expect your company to champion your career progression, unless you are extremely lucky, as the survey results showed that most people have little or no support from within.

Worryingly not much seems to have changed in 2011 judging by a recent report from the CMI (Chartered Management Institute) which highlights  ‘nearly half of workers are dissatisfied with their career progression’.

What are the best strategies to adopt for your desired promotion?

Nearly 50% of senior-level leaders said that external advisers or coaches played the most significant role in successful career transitions.  Here are some top tips for all levels of staff to help you on the way:

Mentoring
If you can find yourself a good mentor from within the organisation then you will get a head start on the rest of the pack. Some companies have formal mentoring programs, but even if your company doesn’t, there are still ways you can build relationships with people in higher positions in the company.

Coaching
Mentoring should be your top strategy but if this is not possible then find yourself an internal coach you respect that you feel can help move you forward or invest in an external Career Coach to really help unlock your potential and help you overcome any limiting beliefs.

Job Shadowing & Acting Up
An excellent strategy, if you can find a suitable opportunity. If you know someone has the job you aspire to and is happy to share their knowledge and experience, even for a day, then go for it!  They may see this as a positive activity for the longer term good of the organisation and a key part of your development or they may be looking at moving into a different role themselves, You may then be automatically given the opportunity to ‘act up’ into the role on a trial basis, when they do move on. Acting up is always a useful option, whilst the organisation may be deciding what the best course of action is for the future. If you do a good job then the likelihood is that you will have created the role for yourself!

Self Promotion
It is an unfortunate fact of life that if your boss or company does not champion your successes or your value to the organisation, then you have to do this yourself. Modesty and British reserve make it difficult for many people to ‘blow their own trumpet’ but if you don’t then no one else will!

A good strategy is to keep detailed records of your successes and key contribution to the department and organisation, especially if it impacts on profitability or some other key performance indicator for the organisation. In theory, those who get results should get ahead.

Be opportunistic and when you know that there are likely to be bigger and better roles created, make sure that you are ready and waiting to put yourself in the frame.

Learn to ‘Manage’ Your Boss
Your boss can be your best supporter, if you help them become more effective in their role and make their life easier for them and show them real commitment! You should feel confident to have an informal chat about your own career aspirations and subtlety remind them of how your efforts have helped them perform even better, so us all opportunities to make your boss a key supporter of your promotion. It should not be all about the annual appraisal!

Acquire New Knowledge and Transferable Skills
There are several transferable skills such as all aspects of written and verbal communication, team working, problem-solving, negotiating, influencing, planning and organisational skills, that can be used from trainee right up to CEO level. Hone these skills and gain relevant new knowledge and skills that will benefit your organisation and this can help your self promotion efforts and also and impress your boss!

Study for a Qualification
If not having a key qualification is holding you back, then ask your boss if they will be prepared to help fund you for some thing that will be of benefit to you and the company. Alternatively, you may wish to consider evening courses, the Open University or distance learning.

Grow personally as well as professionally

Personal development CD’s, DVD’s, motivational books, workshops and seminars can all help to inspire you, teach you new life skills and train you to have a winning attitude and mindset. People will notice the transformation in you and this could make a big difference to your career prospects.  

Build Your Network
In this case we are looking at primarily within the organisation. Who are the key people who can influence your future? The more people who know you, know your strengths and abilities and your value to the organisation, also your ambitions, the more likely you are to get your name in the frame when opportunities arise.

Find out about events happening in your industry. Exhibitions, conferences and seminars where you can spend time talking with new people, asking questions, listening and learning. Inspiring Industry leaders will usually share their knowledge and experience at seminars and you can learn much from them. These industry events can provide you with ideas, insight into future trends and  are a great place to network. Ask your boss if you can attend and get the company to pay!

Take on Additional Responsibilities
Volunteer for jobs outside your allocated role. Not only will this impress your boss but the new skills you develop can be highlighted when you want to move up the career ladder. Asking for more work shows your interest and commitment to help your company to succeed.

Professional Approach
Earn a reputation for being professional at all times. Dress professionally even on business casual days. Stand out from the crowd, act and look the part and ensure that you have a positive outlook, especially when the going gets tough!

Deliver Solutions not Problems!
Your boss won’t thank you for constantly burdening them with your problems. If a difficult situation arises, be sure to come up with at least one solution before seeking your boss’s agreement for dealing with the situation. Problem solvers get promoted, so make sure you stand out from the pack!

If you want to know more about developing your career visit our career and personal development website.

Before the CV- Establishing your true marketability!

When you either need to look for a new job or decide that the time is right, do you immediately dust off your CV, consider updating it, adding relevant new information, then fire it out to as many companies, organisations, agencies and job boards as possible. Sound familiar?

This is often the biggest mistake that many job seekers make, especially when faced with redundancy. Updating and re-writing your CV and blasting it out to ‘the universe’ is unlikely to get you on the interview ‘YES’ pile, unless you have first established and understood your true marketability as it is unlikely to be targeted and focused to sell you in the best light.

Skills are undeniably a vital ingredient for success in all job roles and for some the more specific or the more transferable the better. For some very specialist, technical and clinical jobs, having exactly the right skill set and proven ability to do the role could certainly be the determining factor.

Skills will always be important but they do not provide the full picture. It is a fact that most skills can be learnt or developed and many skills are portable so can be transferred into other jobs or careers. Conversely, it is hard to change people’s personality, nature and their outlook on life.

The old adage is that ‘a leopard can never change its spots’. This is true to a large extent. Only by working hard to develop and grow personally (as well as professionally) does this have a positive impact on who you are and how you approach life. ‘You are what you think and feel’.

Remember ‘you never get a second chance to create a first impression’. What you see is what you get and enthusiastic, positive people tend to radiate energy, which is infectious!

Marketable means that you are sought after and in demand. Your true marketability is the value you offer an employer in terms of your complete package i.e. range of skills, competencies, attributes, attitude, knowledge base, achievements, networks, reputation and personal values. This is an infinitely more powerful proposition than just focusing on your skills.

Enthusiasm, determination, passion, willingness to learn and a positive ‘can do’ attitude can leapfrog you over the competition, even when they have more experience and ‘better skills’, as these can add real value to the job and organisation.

Imagine the scenario; two CV’s landing on an employer or recruiter’s desk, one is purely skills focused and the other really brings you to life in a very positive and powerful way so your personality, work ethic, career objectives, achievements and energy leap off the page. Unless the skill level is the only pre-requisite who are you going to invite to interview?

Developing an in depth self awareness of who you are and what you have to offer is essential for effective self marketing and developing your career. This provides focus and clarity to ensure that you are applying for the right jobs, your applications are targeted and you sell yourself in the best light on your CV and in any networking or interview situations.

You can now work on identifying your unique selling point/s (USP/s).  For USP think what makes you different and or better than your competition?

Regardless of the level you are working at or aspiring to, the majority of people greatly undersell themselves. In such a competitive job market by establishing and really accentuating your true marketability and USP, you will stand out from the crowd!

At the final stage of interviews, the prime candidates usually have similar skill sets. What sets you apart from the competition is likely to be a combination of your personal attributes, attitude, mindset, track record and networks.

Resist the temptation to fire out your CV. Establishing and understanding your true marketability will help you sell yourself effectively, with confidence and set you up for a successful career.

If you want to know more about developing your career visit our career and personal development website