Let’s be honest, many, if not most, would agree that the concept “Career Advancement made easy” is a pipe dream. Thinking about career advancement may evoke resentful feelings of hopelessness and frustration at not finding a future role or work culture in which they feel valued and fulfilled.
Career advancement looks different to everyone. For many, it might mean continuing to be promoted into higher-level roles with increased compensation. For others, it might look like periodically transitioning into roles that help that individual build cross-functional skills that will help them grow into broader roles. Some may even view career advancement as a winding path in which they are constantly trying new and different things that are completely unrelated but that bring them joy and purpose.
Whatever that looks like to you, what follows are 5 key activities that can be integrated into someone’s life and career that hopefully will help alleviate the stressors associated with career advancement.
1. Build Relationships – Both Professionally AND Personally
(admittedly the other word for this is networking but I’m trying to sound less scary)
An eye-opening statistic: Networking alone is responsible for filling as many as 85% of all jobs. (Source: FinancesOnline) Job seekers have more success finding employment through networking, based on current networking statistics for finding jobs. Between 70 and 80% of all jobs aren’t even posted. This means that because most people spend up to 80% of their time browsing the internet for jobs, they could be missing out on great opportunities. 20 Eye-Оpening Networking Statistics for 2022 (techjury.net)
Click here to check out a podcast episode from Adam Grant which not only normalizes the nervousness many individuals feel when they think about networking but also provides some realistic examples of how to build relationships without the awkwardness.
2. Stay Flexible
You can draft all of the detailed goal plans that you like, but sometimes things may happen that derail you. Likewise, opportunities may arise that you weren’t expecting or weren’t part of your plan, but this doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable. And that’s okay. I love this account of two dentists, and the twists and turns they encountered on their career journeys.
3. Take ownership of your development
You are in the driver’s seat. If you don’t care enough to take steps to grow and develop yourself, it’s unlikely that anyone else will step up to do so. What’s more, it is very easy to get swept up in the “go go go” daily grind. Many times it may seem like your development is not the highest priority given the requests and demands that are coming your way.
Tip: Set aside time monthly on your calendar to think about your development goals. Do not reschedule or move because something seemingly more urgent pops up. Treat this time as if it is scheduled with someone hard to get on their calendar because isn’t that the truth?!
4. Check yourself: Be aware when something is out of alignment
Over time you may come to realize that something is not quite right. Perhaps you feel like you aren’t utilizing the skills that you want to when you are working, or maybe you have been receiving negative performance feedback from your manager. Maybe you start to realize that the organizational culture and values are not consistent with your own.
Whatever the case may be, it is critical to take a step back and consider what it is that you want or need to be fulfilled in your career and what steps you may need to take to alter your path at that point. A career coach can help you to think through these steps in making a change that will bring you closer to working in a career and organization that enables you to love your life.
5. Commit to being a lifelong learner
Read books of interest. Listen to podcasts on topics you know nothing about. Watch TED talks! Whatever medium you choose, the key is to keep learning no matter your age or profession. The benefits of lifelong learning are endless not only as it relates to professional development but also in your personal life.
The idea is to keep these 5 activities top of mind all the time and not just pull them out of the toolbox when you become desperate for a change. By making just small efforts in these areas continually, developing your career becomes more of a lifestyle instead of a dreaded activity.
In summary, don’t wait until your co-workers are driving you nuts, you are so bored you are falling asleep at work, or you are so burnt out that you feel like you can’t tolerate one more work day at that job. These tips are things that you can weave into your daily habits and schedule, in the now, to ensure it doesn’t get to that point. Now doesn’t that sound “easy”!?