5 Things you can do now to take your career to the next level
Have you been feeling stagnant in your current role? Are you feeling the itch for something more? Or maybe you are just looking forward to moving to the next level of your career. Maybe you never thought about your career, but now that I’ve mentioned it you are thinking about it. Whether you fall into any of those categories or not, at some point in our career we are all looking for opportunities to grow, broaden our knowledge, be a more valuable contributor and of course, ultimately make more money. What can you do? Should you muster up the courage to ask for a raise or promotion? Before you scare yourself into panic, here are a few things that send the same message to your manager and organization that you are ready to take your career to the next level.
1. Excel in your current role
When was the last time you took a look at your job description? Have you mastered every task on that list? How did you measure up to expectations on your last performance review? What are some of the first words people in your organization attribute to you? Take a look at the gaps that may exist between what you are doing now and what your job description and expectations are. If you are not excelling in your current role, it will be difficult for you to argue you are ready to move up. Organizations are complex and may have barriers to moving forward. However, you should be doing your current role so well that even your worst critic (hopefully you have none) has to agree you are really ready for more.
2. Add a new in-demand skill
What is your most used skill in your job? Hard and soft skills included here. You may not be able to list just one. Your command of your skills is one of the ways you can truly differentiate yourself as a valuable employee. What skill do you have that your team constantly depends on you for? What skill could your department really use right now? By adding a new skill that is in demand or becoming better at a skill that is constantly being required can reinforce your value to the company and get you one step closer to becoming an expert resource. Expert resources are always in demand.
3. Expand your value and knowledge
Most employees never go beyond the walls of their department. To compete in this evolving global workplace, companies need strong employees who have cross-functional skills sets and mindsets that see the big picture and how their department supports that picture. Do you want to move on to doing greater things in your organization? Spoiler alert, you will need to support more than just your immediate team and manager. If you have your eyes on a senior position, you will need the rest of the organization to see that you understand their role in the big picture as well as your own and you are able to make contributions at a corporate level. What does that mean? It means you are able to be valuable to not just your department, but others as well. It also means that you are willing to learn about things other than just those in your own department.
4. Take on a Mentee
I have seen many managers in action. I have seen great ones, functional ones and downright terrible ones. It is unfortunate that when people get installed or promoted in leadership roles that some organizations do such a poor job of preparing, training and empowering their leaders. Regardless of the resources and programs in place for leaders, one of the most convincing ways to prove to your organization that you are ready for leadership is to lead someone – take on a mentee. That mentee could be in the same department, in another department or outside of the organization. One great example of external mentorship that can speak volumes to your leadership abilities is coaching a sport team or small group. In the event you are not able to do that, finding a mentee in your organization is a really visible and practical way to demonstrate your ability to train, develop and lead talent. Another way to mentor is to volunteer to train a new employee in your department. Taking on a mentee does so many things for you personally and professionally, but it also sends a strong message of your abilities to be a curator of the company’s resources.
5. Make your manager/department’s job easier
One of my favorite mentors told me early in my career, to get anything done you need to first help the person you need help from. That may sound odd, but it makes perfect sense if you stop to think about it. If you wanted the help of your manager to give you a promotion, what might he or she be facing that is preventing them from being able to have that conversation with their superior? Perhaps they have a project that is behind that you may be able to assist with. It could be quite possible that if you helped your manager with their project, after getting through that, they would have time to talk to you about your next career move, as well as have a favorable result when talking to their manager. Can you think of anything you could do right now to make your manager or your department better? Perhaps that is what you need to speak for you, before you bring up your conversation to move forward. Or better yet, perhaps that will help the offer come to you instead.
As professionals, we all have dreams and goals. For many, they want to move on to do more, be more valuable and eventually be compensated more for their value and contributions. YOU are in charge of your career – its growth, development and stagnation. Whether you succeed or fail is mostly up to you. Being able to excel in your current role, adding new skills, expanding your knowledge, taking on a mentee and making your manager or department’s job easier are all ways to build yourself professionally, as well as demonstrate the value you bring to an organization. What have you done lately to take your career to the next level?