Career growth looks much different today than it did a decade ago. In the past, employees expected their employer to provide all the training and career development they would need to continue to be a valuable contributor to the company. More recently, employees have taken on the responsibility for learning new skills and expertise on their own. As part of those efforts, most employees expect to change jobs frequently to broaden their experience and grow their skills. The shortening of employee tenure, and the frequency of employee quits for better experiences has prompted businesses to become more employee-centric. Employers of choice are now offering more opportunities for growth and flexibility within the organization, including the possibility of redeployment to new roles in different divisions, business units, or departments.
Even as companies expand professional development programs, individuals must act as their own advocates when setting career goals and growth objectives. As Chad Halvorson, founder and CEO of When I Work put it, figuring out how to advance your career on your own (or with help from your network) “builds in a layer of personal security.” It’s important to seek out employers that truly support the full spectrum of the employee experience, from learning and development, to outplacement and career transition services, to ensure that you don’t become stagnant in any one role.
If you’re hoping to stay current and relevant in your market, consider these 5 tips to skyrocket your career growth path.
#1 Think like a jobseeker
Even if you’re employed and love your job, it’s important to think proactively to avoid becoming complacent. We recently blogged about tips to boost your professional and personal brand. It takes more than just maintaining a strong LinkedIn profile or launching a blog-- boosting your own brand begins with identifying your vision for life and the future, your purpose, passions, interests, values, and strengths. Once you understand these elements, you can leverage them to develop a unique Professional Value Proposition (PVP) for your future career trajectory.
When you think about where you want to be in your career three, five, or even ten years from now, will your current professional brands still be relevant? When you consider your personal attributes and soft skills, combined with the experience you’ve gained from past positions you’ve held, is anything missing? Think like a job seeker to take a holistic approach to your professional brand and begin working to fill in the gaps of skills or attributes that might someday hold you back from landing your dream job.
#2 Learn to negotiate
There might come a time in your career where negotiation skills will be key to landing a promotion or moving into a new position that will offer opportunities for professional growth. Be ready for that moment by knowing the value you bring to your organization. Be careful not to overestimate or underestimate your value. If you aren’t sure what to focus on, take a moment to reflect on comments from peers and bosses about your achievements. Think about what advice others in the organization seek you out to get. What questions are you asked to answer? What problems are you relied on to solve? Knowing expertise others ask you to share will help you determine the value you bring to the organizations in which you serve. Thinking about your strengths in past roles is also a good way to help you focus on what you want in a new role, promotion, or raise, and help you get it by providing why you deserve it.
There’s always a risk that you’ll ask for something and your request will be denied. If that happens, you need a plan. First, don’t get discouraged. Take a “no” as an opportunity for feedback and an opportunity to set goals for growth. If you don’t get a promotion or new position right away, build on your missing skills and experience to turn that “no” into a “yes” the next time around.
#3 You can’t grow alone
When your work is too siloed, it’s difficult for others--from your peers to your managers--to recognize areas of potential professional growth for you. Take ownership of your own growth by stretching outside your comfort zone. Try working with a different colleague on a project, or volunteering to try something outside of the scope of what you usually do to increase your exposure and demonstrate your strengths to others on your team.
If you aren’t able to participate on new activities, identify someone on your team to share your work with or collaborate on a project your already working on. Agree to help promote that team member in meetings and with decision makers in exchange for the same consideration. Conversely, take interest in the projects and work being done by other people on your team. Find out the skills and expertise they need to do their jobs and consider developing those skills yourself.
#4 Think beyond what you’re paid to do
Going above and beyond your job description might be your ticket for career growth. Think about it this way: if you come into work and do the same thing, day in and day out, you won’t have many opportunities to develop other skills. When you take on a new project, work with a new team, or do a little extra work for the sake of your company, you’re more likely to be noticed-- plus, you’ll learn new skills as you dive into new projects.
When you think and work beyond your current role, you’ll begin to condition yourself for career growth. Think outside your scope of duties to prepare for the future.
#5 Look for a job with opportunities for growth
Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends Report details the growing pressure on organizations to improve learning and development for employees. This is part of a greater movement we’re seeing focused on improving the employee experience from hire to exit and beyond. According to industry predictions, when it comes to career growth, employees will be seeing more and more opportunities for learning and development within their companies. Furthermore, it’s becoming common for organizations to take on some of the heavy lifting when it comes to continuing education for employees. If you are a job seeker looking for a new job, consider what opportunities for learning, development, and growth your potential employer offers before you accept the position. It may mean the difference between a job you stick with and one you leave after a year.
Career growth won’t look the same for every person. For you, growth may not mean a position advancement or a raise, but rather finding a new opportunity to learn. Growth might mean landing a job you love, perfecting a skill, moving into a management role, or a number of other milestones. When you define what “skyrocketing” looks like for you and make a commitment to continued self-improvement, you can take control of your own career despite any challenges you’ll meet along the way.