As a professional, it can be difficult to know what career advancement looks like. It can be easy to fall into a rut of thinking about your job as just a series of tasks rather than opportunities for growth.
Your job is where you spend most of your time and energy, so it's worth taking some time to make sure that it helps you grow personally and professionally. If not, now is the time to start thinking about how to get out of that rut and make progress toward your goals!
1. Decide what success looks like
It is important to define success before you can achieve it.
What do you want? What are your career goals? What will you do to achieve them?
What are your strengths and weaknesses? What skills do you need to develop in order for this goal to become a reality?
2. Create a development plan
The first step in creating a development plan is to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Which parts of your current role do you enjoy? What skills do you need to develop in order to progress?
Once you’ve identified these, create an actionable outline of the steps it would take for you to reach an ideal career goal.
The development plan should be flexible enough so that it can be adapted as circumstances change (for example, if some skills aren’t as relevant anymore), but still specific enough so that you know what you are aiming for and when you will get there.
The timeframe should be realistic: don't set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic goals or milestones!
It's important that the development plan includes measurable objectives; this will allow people reviewing it (including yourself) to track progress against each goal over time and make adjustments accordingly as needed.
3. Focus on the essential
"You can't be all things to all people."
This is the mantra I live by when it comes to career progression. It's important to remember that your job isn't about being perfect or pleasing everyone, but about doing what's essential for your success and creating an environment where you feel valued and respected.
It's also important to focus on the essential aspects of your role or future role that are necessary for you to complete their jobs successfully. If you're working as more of a specialist (e.g., in IT), make sure you know how best to utilise your expertise so that they you do your current or future job effectively. Then deliver on those expectations consistently over time.
As long as this happens consistently, your career progression will be simpler to develop.
4. Stay visible
To stay visible, you need to be visible within your organisation. Make sure you’re communicating effectively with other team members or departments. Make sure everyone knows what work you're doing and why it matters by staying up-to-date with them on projects and sharing highlights of successes as they happen (or even before).
5. Take calculated risks
Taking calculated risks is the best way to get ahead in your career. It's how you learn and grow, how you develop new skills and build up your confidence.
It can be intimidating at first, so here are some tips for making a decision about which risks to take: Think about the worst-case scenario. What's the worst thing that could happen? Are there any strategies or resources that would help mitigate that outcome? Consider what other people have done in similar situations—you might get some good ideas from their experiences!
Develop soft skills
Teamwork and collaboration
Planning and organisation
6. Get a coach to help you grow
A coach can help you develop a plan that meets your individual needs, whether it's career development or general life milestones.
A coach will also help keep you motivated and on track, especially when it comes to meeting the deadlines for your plan. Because coaching is a relationship based on trust and respect, coaches often work with clients who are already successful but want to do even better.
As well as helping with time management and goal setting, coaches have experience in helping people get ahead at work.
And because most people aren't naturally good communicators (a soft skill), having someone else supporting you can make all the difference between success or failure within your professional career development.
To conclude, if you’re looking to accelerate your career, these tips are a great place to start.
First and foremost, take an honest look at where you are now—what gives you energy and what drains it? Then get clear on what success will look like for your next step in the journey. Once that’s decided, create a development plan with concrete goals in mind (and stick to them!). Finally, stay visible by showing off your skills both internally and externally through networking opportunities (and don’t forget about your soft skills).