If you want to move up the corporate ladder you need a career plan. You need to build one instead of simply landing jobs one after another. A career is the sum of all the knowledge, skills, and network you’ve gained from your education, training, previous jobs or positions. Are you building up these layers or have you stopped? We’ll give you seven tips on how to build a career, whatever stage you are on now.
In general, people work their way up the corporate structure in three ways.
- They follow a steady course. They apply for an entry-level job, get additional training and education, and gradually work their way up.
- They know the right contacts. They are head-hunted middle of their career for a higher position.
- They jump ship midway of their career. They take the risk of leaving a job they’ve been stuck since around their late twenties and apply for a higher position elsewhere.
Wherever your career is now, it’s never too late to build it with these useful tips:
1. Leverage your strengths to build rapport
We all have inherent strengths that we can use to create positive relationships in the workplace.
Are you good at people’s skill? Show it by acting as a cheerleader for the team or taking the lead when everything seems to stall. Are you good at problem-solving? Offer ideas for solutions. If you have a natural knack for writing or design, help a colleague or your boss to come up with a better report.
We don’t mean you go around the office wearing a sign hanging from your neck offering your free service. Be careful not to be taken advantage of or taken as a sucker. Use your better judgment when or when not to offer your skill to someone.
Your goal is to create a positive aura among your colleagues and bosses, someone who people would like to have in their team. The more popular you are at work, the higher your chances to move up sooner than later.
2. Build your emotional intelligence
The educational system prepared you intellectually for the job, but it hardly readied your emotions. In the harsh environment of the workplace, you need to harness your emotional intelligence to see you through tough times, such as, dirty corporate politics, looming deadlines, and demanding clients.
Learn how to work under pressure, think clearly and stay focused in a crisis. Although we’re born with a firm personality—some of us are more aggressive as are some of us less insensitive than others—our emotional quotient or E.Q. can be trained to adapt to our environment, according to a Harvard Business Review article.Read more: How To Increase Online Sales: Using Trust Seals In Shopping Cart Software Marketing
You need a combination of exercise, meditation, brain practice, and coaching to achieve a clear mind. Learn from people engaged in professional sports, who are constantly under intense emotional pressure to deliver a win. Here are ten simple clear thinking techniques from a boxing site that you can adapt at the workplace.
With a high E.Q. you’re likely to stand out and occupy a leadership position even in a workplace saturated with genius.
3. Volunteer for big projects
Don’t eschew big projects. They can help you build your portfolio for future promotions. If you must volunteer, select the projects that can best illustrate your skill.
If the marketing people are holding an event and you’re good at public speaking, how about volunteering to host it? If an ad hoc team is created to address a public relations crisis and you’re good at harnessing social media, why not volunteer to take the lead online? This is not to say that you try to bump off someone who’s already doing the job, but you can always lend a hand.
4. See the bigger picture
It’s easy to become complacent with a nice-paying job. But does it advance your skills and allow you to showcase leadership and decision-making skills? Make sure you’re not stuck in a tropical island beach if you don’t want to live there forever.
Can you see an opening for a higher position in the next few years in your company? If the company’s business is expanding, or at least it remains robust, you’re in a good position. But if it’s losing business for the longest time now, or its industry is threatened by a disruptive technology, it’s time to hit the classified ads.
People in the travel agency had learned this lesson ten years ago before online bookings took over their jobs. People in the cable TV industry are now learning it. Look beyond your department and see the big picture and analyze how it will impact your career plan.
5. Expand your network
It’s one of the best things you can do for your career. Fancy how the humble business card can make wonders.
Go out and attend conferences, workshops, or build your LinkedIn network. Reach out to people who you think can help your career down the road. These include colleagues working in other companies, trade society officers and members, competitors, and anyone you come across while attending a convention or lecture or signing up for membership. Be liberal in dispensing your card.Read more: Time Management Skills: How To Organize Your Life
Here’s a secret—if you’re scouting for opportunities outside the company, distribute a personal business card. Put down your core skills, but don’t write that you’re offering professional services. Make the card subtle enough that you won’t be accused by the boss of selling out to other companies. Do the same with your LinkedIn profile.
6. Educate yourself
We never stop learning, so you, too, must continue attending trainings and workshops to keep pace with the trends in your profession. In fact, attending trainings is also a good way to expand your people network, so you’re actually hitting two birds with one stone here.
Moreover, read news and stories about trends that can impact your profession, the company, or the industry where it belongs.
Also pursue postgraduate studies when you can. All things being equal with the competition, a postgraduate title can be a deciding factor for promotion.
7. Jump ship if you must
If you’re in your thirties or early forties and you believe your job doesn’t move your career forward, talk about this with your employer or the human resource manager. Ask what the company can offer in the next few years.
If nothing substantial comes out of the talk, shop around for a higher position in another company. Don’t feel bad if you have to jump ship and join the competition; your current employer has had you for too long and its lack of foresight will kill your career.