Are you following a career path that appears to have reached the end of the line? All too often employees hit a wall in their profession and feel they have no more opportunities to get ahead in their career. This is where the ability to adapt becomes a crucial skill that can help anyone across any industry.
Through personal progress and development, you can find ways for career advancement with your current employer, at a new company, or perhaps with your own venture. In this article, we’ll discuss eight things you can do to move further along in your career and find new opportunities.
Career advancement, development, and growth
Career advancement, career development, and career growth may all sound the same, but they’re three different things. Career development is a lifelong journey of learning, skill-building, and growing personally to improve your professional life. Alternatively, career growth is the process of growing into your current (and future) position through practice and experience. Traditionally, it’s what many people think of as “climbing the corporate ladder.”
But when it comes to career advancement, this refers to how your career progresses over time. You may achieve professional advancement through a job promotion, working at another company, or switching career fields entirely.
To reach your career goals, career development is a must. By focusing on your personal development and even career growth first, you can eventually achieve the career advancement you want.
1. What does career success look like for you?
Each person has their personal idea of what career success is. Some people want to become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Others want to be a small-town business owner impacting their local economy.
Your idea of success isn’t the same as anyone else’s, so you need to determine what is the best outcome for you. Spend some time imagining what you want your future to look like and where you want to be in your career over the next decade. Then you can sit down and create career goals that fit this expectation.
2. Create a plan
Once you define your professional goals, the next step is identifying how you will achieve them. Create a timeline for everything you want to accomplish with milestone goals to keep you accountable along the way. This will help you create a step-by-step breakdown of each milestone you need to achieve before you reach your end-goals.
When you don’t have a timeline, it’s more challenging to achieve career advancement. It’s like trying to reach a new destination without a map or any direction. An agenda outlines the way to your goals and helps you stay on track. You can then refer to the various milestones you’ve created to see which ones you’ve reached and where you might need to make adjustments.
A great practice to ensure career advancement is to make short-term and long-term goals. This can include gaining a new skill that fits your aspirations or becoming self-employed with your own business. Many people work backward from their long-term goals when they map their career plans. Once you know your five-year and 10-year goals, you can determine the milestones you have to reach along the way.
3. Expand your skill set
You may be stuck in a current role because of your limited skill set. After high school, you should continue to improve your skills through training programs and similar options. By actively looking for new development opportunities, you can be proactive about reaching the next stage in your career.
One of the best ways you can improve your skills is by taking online courses. Online resources are a great option for busy professionals who don’t have time (or money) for in-person classes. You can use research topics and lectures on YouTube and Lynda, or even take free online courses from such prestigious universities as MIT, Cornell, and Yale.
If you want to become a better worker or pursue an entrepreneurial endeavor, it’s also a good idea to read books related to your industry or desired profession — you can gain valuable insights and ideas to apply to your personal career path.
4. Take on new responsibilities
If you want to show your boss you deserve a promotion, offer to take on new duties and day-to-day tasks. Bosses don’t hand out raises and promotions randomly. Instead, they look for people who take on additional responsibilities, work well with others, and volunteer for new roles.
There’s no need to wait for a new job or promotion to start working toward your career goals. No matter where you are in your career, you can express a willingness to accept new work, offer additional help, and handle a larger role. Your boss is more likely to give you a promotion when you take initiative because you’ll be gaining more skills and experience.
5. Solicit constructive feedback
According to Forbes, one of the most important ways to measure your progress is through constructive feedback. Getting insight into your productivity and work ethic helps you spot mistakes and find new ways of doing things. Ask your supervisor for an analysis of your work ethic, how you can improve, and ways you can help the company be more successful.
Even the world’s best athletes need a coach to give them feedback on how they’re doing. By asking your boss, coworkers, and subordinates for suggestions, you’ll prepare yourself for new opportunities and professional advancement.
6. Connect with people in your industry
Another important part of career advancement is networking, be it in-person or online. If your company hosts corporate potlucks or other group events, be sure to attend these social gatherings to make new contacts.
You can also make connections online via social media or other avenues. For example, LinkedIn groups are where you can connect with people who work in your industry and learn from their expertise through posts, articles, and more. Meanwhile, the LinkedIn Publishing Platform lets you publish articles related to your industry, so other people take notice of you as well.
People like people who are willing to help. And when you offer your assistance to others, they are more likely to reciprocate. Reach out to your coworkers, friends, and business connections and offer your help in any way they need.
Volunteering can also be a powerful step on the path to career advancement. In addition to giving back to your community, volunteering allows you to create business relationships, explore different industries, and improve your resume for a future job search.
7. Learn from someone who is successful
Whether you’re looking for new options or aiming for a specific promotion, mentorship from a successful person in your industry can help you determine the proper path to take. When you work with a role model who has been through a similar process, it can be helpful to reach your goals. Your mentor can provide feedback about how you perform different tasks and offer tips for reaching your next career objective.
Before you reach out to a mentor, think about how you can add value to their side of the arrangement. Create a list of potential mentors, and then reach out to them. A mentor worth having will expect professionalism and proof that you will use what they have to teach you.
8. Start a business
If you want to achieve a higher level of career growth, consider starting your own business. The idea of a single corporate ladder and one career trajectory is a myth. Whether you're switching industries or starting a business, there are many ways you can achieve career success.
In a recent survey, 66% of millennial men and women said they want to start their own business. As a business owner, you have more room for growth than you ever could working for someone else. It can seem like a daunting task at first, but with the right resources, your career potential is unlimited.
Take Control of Your Career
Career advancement is possible if you’re willing to learn new skills, get feedback, network with business professionals, and work toward your goals. But career advancement doesn’t just mean getting promoted by your boss or getting hired at another company.
Starting a new business can be one of the most exciting ways to advance your career — if you know what to do. Main Street reduces the risk and uncertainty associated with becoming a business owner by providing a clear path to success so you don’t have to go it alone.
Through professional training, top-rated office support, and the chance to consistently learn from industry experts, Main Street makes it easier and more affordable to build a profitable small business. Learn more about the Main Street process and determine if it’s the right fit for you.