Moving Up the Career Ladder; How to Get that Next Job
A job can be static – no change from day to day. A career, however, is a progression; increased responsibility, new experiences, increased knowledge and wisdom, more money and usually a more rewarding position.
The big question is – how to make it happen after several years in the same job? You know your job inside and out… and do a good job of it. How to leverage it into your next career step?
Keep in mind that while luck plays a part in any success story, lucky people also make their own good luck! With that exception, however, your career and career path is no one’s responsibility but yours! So – how do you go about building a career path?
Like almost every endeavor – you need a plan:
1. Put together a “brag book”. It really isn’t a book and it isn’t bragging if you actually did it! Create two files – and suggest you make them both digital as well as hard copy.
- File #1 – a series of documents you have written that detail your achievements and accomplishments. e.g. – “Chaired companywide meetings and efforts to define needs and requirements for a new phone system.” Or “Member of a small steering committee responsible for moving our offices to larger quarters including acquiring all new furniture and installing modular work stations.” These statements will end up in your resume and be talking points for future job interviews. This file includes any certificates you have received for participating in training sessions, community events, etc.
- File #2 – includes copies of every performance review as well as letters and emails from other complimenting you on your work. If you get a favorable comment from a co-worker, supervisor, customer – anyone – document it in this file. Just be sure to include what it was about. “Bill told me thanks and that I was doing a great job” won’t hack it. Rather “Bill complimented me on the results we achieved for 3rd quarter – we were under budget for costs with zero errors” - more like it!
This file will also provide material for future interviews and your resume but unlike file #1, these come from third parties and are “endorsements” if you will. When you get one – ask the person giving it to go to your LinkedIn profile and “endorse” you for that skill or area of performance. Be assured your LinkedIn profile will be reviewed by every prospective employer and you want those endorsements there!
2. Look ahead to the options available for your next job – specifically if with your current employer and generally if you need to move to a different organization to move up the employment food chain. e.g. - if you are a staff accountant, your next job might be accounting manager, controller, A/R – A/P manager or some accounting specialty (tax, payroll). If a salesperson, perhaps sales supervisor or lead account sales.
3. Once identified, research what you need to have in the way of experience and accomplishments to be eligible to apply for that next step. You can ask for more responsibility in your current job or the areas you seek. Offer to assist others….anything to gain the requisite experience. Identify people who either have or have had the jobs you aspire to. Talk to them and ask them candidly to evaluate your candidacy for such a position. Talk to staffing service professionals that work in your area of expertise and ask them the same questions.
Your objective is to really understand what you need to possess on your resume in addition to the contents of the two files in your “brag book” to be qualified for the next step. Furthermore to know where your shortfalls are so you can work on them.
Also keep in mind that the process is not finite; organizations and hiring authorities have varying standards that must be met – some make sense and some may not. The only way to know for sure is to test the waters. With your current employer ask your boss, “I want to move up in the department – where do you see the opportunities are for me and what do I need to do to be qualified for them”. Register with one or two really good staffing services and go thru the process of interviewing for a new position. Discreetly if currently employed; you don’t want to jeopardize the bird in hand!
4. Finally – exhibit positive factors critical when interviewing such as:
- Possess and exhibit a great attitude.
- Possess and exhibit a great work ethic.
- Mirror the behavior, dress and communication skills of those you see as role models.
- Understand and “talk the talk” of your current employer; exhibit pride to be working there - be an ambassador for the organization to the outside world.
And as you go through the process – be reasonably patient. See my post of March 18 “To The Kid At The End Of The Bench – Careers and Success Doesn’t Happen Overnight”.
You don’t want to be someone who changes jobs every 2 or 3 years…unless it is with the same employer. Changing employers frequently brands you as a “job-hopper”!
Good luck moving up the career ladder!
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