If you’ve been feeling like every day in your current career is a Monday, or if you find yourself counting down the hours until the weekend or your next vacation day, it’s time to do some serious soul searching about the direction your career is taking. If you take a look at your current situation and are ready to take steps in advancing your career, then the tips below will help get you started.
1. Determine Whether You Want to Remain with Your Company or Leave.
Take a step back and evaluate your ideal situation. The key is to ask yourself some tough questions. Do you want to leave the comfort of your current company, or do you want to remain with your company and land a promotion to advance your career? Are you learning and growing, or are you stuck?
If you decide that you want to remain with your company, make your intentions known. Use your quarterly or annual review time to discuss possibilities for climbing within the company or making changes to your role to improve your satisfaction. On the other hand, if you decide that you want to leave your company, do it the right way, and don’t forget to plan ahead. Be sure that you have opened the lines of communication with contacts outside your industry. Attend professional meetings and conferences, join professional associations, and start seeking job openings elsewhere well in advance.
2. Be Assertive
If you want a promotion, a raise, or a seat on the board, be assertive. Schedule a meeting with your boss, and make a case for your advancement. Very clearly explain how you are of value to your company or lay out your case for a promotion by focusing on your strength, skills, and experience. The more hesitant you are to take a risk, the more likely you are to remain stagnant in your position. Know what you want, gather your evidence, and be assertive and confident when you approach your boss.
3. Seek a Sponsor
Identify a mentor who will proactively help you advance your career. Mentors who offer direct access to opportunities are more helpful than mentors who simply offer advice because they recommend you for jobs, essentially offering you a hand up as you climb the corporate ladder. In short, they create the luck your competitors claim to have.
Choose a mentor that is an influencer in your field and who is well connected in several circles. You may begin by identifying a leader in your network. Approach your potential mentor and ask them to share their leadership story with you. Gather feedback and ideas, build a professional relationship, and then ask them to mentor you once they know your strengths, capabilities, and potential.
4. Promote Yourself
The more you promote yourself, the better off you'll be in order to advance your career. Women often hesitate to self-promote, but it is a critical component of advancing your career and getting closer to a leadership role. Make your achievements visible, share your success, and proactively self-promote internally and externally.
Begin promoting yourself by taking credit for your achievements and making them known outside of your organization. You can start by crafting an eye-catching resume that highlights your skills and professional accomplishments. Resume-building is both an art and a science, so start with a proven template you can customize with your personal experience. Once you’re finished, be sure to post it to LinkedIn and other professional profile sites.
You also should promote yourself within your organization. Initiate projects to advance within your company and make your role more visible and valuable. Take risks by taking on projects you may not feel that you're ready for and publicize your wins. You may want to feature yourself in the company newsletter or as a feature on your organization’s intranet.
You can make this the year you advance your career by determining whether you want to climb within your present organization or earn a spot in a new organization, being assertive, seeking a sponsor, and promoting yourself.