Today I welcome a new guest author, Carolyn who brings us this great article on advancing your career. I am always surprised how many people think that the next great job for them is not at their current workplace, but at the next company or job for them. The reality is, every job can be your next level job and people would position themselves much better by continuously advancing their careers and building their skills in EVERY job, just by dropping one and seeking the next. So, please add your comments to welcome Carolyn and you can find more of her articles at her link at the end of the article.
Gaining a promotion at work is something that many workers would put on their to-do list. But how exactly does one go about the task of climbing the corporate ladder? Well, the corporate ladder is less of a ladder and more a staircase. What I mean by that is that advancement doesn’t come in huge upward motions. It most often comes in slow, steady moves. Continually move forward, display a desire to learn more about your job and strive to do the best you can on all of your assignments and before you know it, you’ll realize you’ve ascended quite a bit from your original position.
Before I outline a few points about advancing within a company and furthering your career, let me begin with a short illustration.
Two men began work at an accounting firm at roughly the same time doing Scientific Animations. The two new employees had attended rival schools but got along well enough. The first employee decorated his desk with memorabilia from his alma mater and the second chose to keep his work area sparse and sterile. At lunch during a coworker’s birthday celebration, while the cake was being passed out and “Happy Birthday” being sung, the first employee joined in with the chorus of voices while the other hung toward the back, not wishing anyone to hear his less than impressive singing voice. Both of the employees were well liked within the office. Neither participated in the intra-office politics or petty office gossip. Both were generally on time with their assignments and both pulled their weight. However, the first employee quickly got a feel for the office culture and began arriving in time to flip on the lights in the office in the morning. He was trusted with a key to the office because the bosses figured, if he wants to get here so early, why not let him?
Still the two men performed about the same amount of work. What the first employee accomplished in 9 hours at the office, the second employee could get done in 7.5 hours.
It wasn’t until an opportunity arose to get trained on new software that the first employee really set himself apart. The company was readying itself for a switch to a new type of software and it asked for volunteers to get trained on the new system. The volunteers would then turn around and train their coworkers on the new system. It was not a popular position — there were no benefits — but the first employee volunteered for the position, was trained and lent his new expertise to his coworkers.
When it came time for the accounting firm to consider applicants for a promotion to a recently vacated managerial position, whom do you think they chose? It should be fairly obvious that the first employee demonstrated that he was worthy of the career advancement. But why is that? The second employee was technically the more efficient candidate. He worked at a rate that was about 17 percent faster than the first employee.
The fact is, most companies care about efficiency and your ability to carry a heavy workload only to a certain extent. The thing that many companies look for is eagerness. The first employee had that quality in spades. This is shown not only in his volunteering for the unenviable position of new software trainer but also in his loud singing at the coworker’s lunch time birthday party and his early arrival to the office each day.
Taking the time do something as small as stand by the water cooler for a few minutes on your break and chit chat with employees shows that you’re not just there for the paycheck. You’re taking an active interest in your work and your coworkers. It shows management that you’re eager to be there. You enjoy being there. So they should want to keep you.
The software-training example (and even getting fake college degrees) is just a small example of a time that someone took an opportunity to learn more within their job. This often pops up at jobs in the form of new certifications, licensures or training opportunities. The first employee’s willingness to learn the new software demonstrated to management that they are looking to learn. The desire to take on new tasks is something that managers are constantly looking for in prospective recipients of promotions.
Respect Your Elders
The managers at your job got there for a reason. Although sometimes it may seem like they don’t quite know what they’re doing, they have a better job title than you for a reason. Part of learning on the job and using the knowledge you gain to advance your career is found in relationships made with management. Offer to take your boss out to lunch and ask how they achieved their successes, how they dealt with their failures and how you can get on track to follow in their footsteps.
This is not only a great way of learning about the company and its day-to-day operations, this is a great way of making sure your boss can pick you out of a crowd. If a chance for a promotion comes up, they’ll be much more likely to consider you if they can pick you out of a line up.
The example of the first employee singing along to “Happy Birthday” is also a metaphor for something that too many employees fail to understand. Speak up. No one will promote you, let alone acknowledge that you’re in the room unless you make your voice heard. Contribute to the discussions. Put your two cents in at meetings. Don’t be afraid to put your opinions and ideas forth at meetings. This will raise your visibility within the office and, in the event that you say something incorrect, the correction you receive at the meeting will stick with you.
As the old proverb says, “Rebuke is more effective for a wise man than 100 blows to a fool.” The implication is that if you’re wise, you will only need to be corrected once and you will heed that instruction. If you’re a fool, you could have someone try to beat the information into you, but it wouldn’t take.
If you’re looking to advance your career but are worried about the opportunities within your company, don’t abandon ship just yet. Advancement opportunities will inevitably open up if you apply these principles for moving forward.
Carolyn is a guest blogger who writes about employment topics and RN schools.
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