How To Move Up the Career Ladder
Do you want to have a title—and maybe a salary, too—that’s loftier than the one you currently hold? Moving up that proverbial career ladder requires a mix of hard work, strategic networking and relationship development, and often, a little bit of luck.
8 Tips for Moving Up the Career Ladder
If you’re eager to advance in the workplace, and build a personally fulfilling career, follow these tips.
1. Know What You Want
Are you interested in an eventual c-suite role? Do you want to manage a team? Are you hoping to have “senior” in front of your job title? It’s easier to move up the ladder if you have a sense of where precisely you want to wind up. So start with a goal—then, create a plan to get there.
Think through how to break down your end goal into steps, and then how you’ll each step. You may need to get another degree, relocate, upgrade your skills, or head to another company to achieve certain steps.
2. Communicate Your Ambitions
Next, share some specifics (no need to give a PowerPoint on your 10-year plan, or share every tiny detail) with your manager. Being open and sharing what you want can be powerful. Tell your manager you hope one day to hold title X may make him or her view in a new way—and give you new, challenging opportunities that’ll allow you to grow and shine.
Plus, once your manager is aware of your goal, he or she can potentially give you meaningful feedback. There may, for instance, be a specific path to an internal promotion.
3. Build Strong Relationships
Careers thrive based on who you know. No need to be craven about your relationship-building. Instead, take the time to get to know your manager and colleagues.
Be friendly and helpful, and put in the time with small talk and show up at optional company-wide events. Getting things done is important, but people do generally seek to work with folks they get along with. So it’s strategically wise to get along well with colleagues.
It can also be helpful to find a mentor at work, who can guide you through sticky situations, as well as giving you advice on the path to promotion and getting positive attention.
4. Go Beyond Your Job Description
Think of the tasks in your job description as the bare minimum. Aim to help out co-workers when they’re swamped, and go the extra mile on your own tasks.
The caveat: Avoid being the person on the team who handles all the work without acknowledgement and commensurate remuneration.
Let your manager know when you put in extra hours or help out colleagues—bring it up during one-on-one meetings, your annual review, and when you ask for a raise or promotion.
5. Put Yourself in Leadership Positions
That can mean giving presentations and leading up projects—but it can also mean speaking up in meetings, coming up with big ideas, and generally being a person the company turn to for solutions. Again, the theme here remains—if you want to move up the ladder, you’ll need to do more than maintain the status quo.
As you plan your moves up the career ladder, it can be helpful to think: What is the person one rung up from me doing well? Emulate them in ways they’re successful (and avoid mimicry in areas where they’re less than successful).
6. Track Your Accomplishments
And put them in terms the company can respect, such as revenue gained, clients won, or expenses cut. Don’t boast, but do share when you have accomplished something noteworthy.
7. Reflect the Company Goals
There are all sorts of projects that you can devote your energy toward. Prioritize the ones that roll up into the company’s big picture fiscal goals whenever possible.
8. Dress the Part
That doesn’t necessarily mean wearing a suit! But do model your appearance and behavior after the people who are in positions of authority at the company.