5 Tips For Advancing Your Career
Continually developing your career is a critical part of being a successful professional in the 21st century. To advance, you must continuously grow or risk settling and stagnating.
A few key strategies will help you keep improving and moving up the professional ladder. As with most sound ideas, these strategies seem deceptively simple, but can actually be difficult to implement. Doing so, however, will be your best bet for progress.
Simply put, helping others makes them more likely to help you. Reciprocity is a primary motivating force, and is the basis for "free" promotions and samples in the business world. It can be painful to receive help but provide nothing in return. Helping others before they've done anything for you not only feels morally right, but should prove professionally smart too, as it instills an obligation in others to return the favor and creates a network of people favorably disposed to you and more likely to try to help you with advancing your career.
Become A Resource
In practice, your actual workplace roles are not exactly as prescribed on an organizational chart. You can become a go-to person and resource for others, regardless of what your role is limited to on paper. This includes not only being an expert in your role but also helping out others with their jobs and taking on undesirable duties as they occur -- for instance, by helping with training or organizing meetings and events. By expanding beyond the limits of your role in being a resource for others, you appear more dynamic and become essential, making your absence more noticeable.
Nothing will help you become an expert in your field better than learning the tips and firsthand experience of those who have been there longer than you. Seeking the help of other professionals, for a mentorship or just general advice, will not only help you learn things you might not have thought of otherwise, but will also demonstrate your dedication to your job and desire to improve, all of which should help you advance.
Set Your Sights Several Steps Ahead
In general, you will get nowhere unless you have an intended destination. Your overall goal will not be immediately achievable, but you must have a clear goal so you can create a path to get there. The job you want may, and probably should, be several promotions away, but once you know where you are trying to go, you can use that as a guide for every difficult decision you make. Ask yourself, "Will choosing this option help me reach my goal?" If the answer is yes, you do it, and if not, you don't.
Play to Your Strengths
No one has an infinite amount of time to become expert in all aspects of the business world or their profession. Some things you will never be particularly good at, no matter how much time and effort you devote to them. Rather than focus your efforts on becoming OK at things you do poorly, try to focus as much as possible on what you do well and pursue opportunities that will enable you to play to your strengths. The most successful business people are rarely brilliant at all aspects of their business; they focus on the few things they do particularly well. Being even better at what you do well is far more important for advancing your career than becoming mediocre at other things.