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Top tips - how to climb the career ladder?

Future proofing your career - useful blogs

When asked, most people would say they would welcome a promotion at work. This may include the perceived benefits attached to, for example: a better title, a higher level of responsibility, a better wage packet; and, of course, a further step up the ladder of success.

So yes, the ‘ladder’ can be hard to climb and those with real ambition will have to prepare and navigate their way up by carefully planning their route. However, you should get to know your limitations and be sure not to exceed them. Having ‘staked your claim', often facing anything from merely raised eyebrows to serious competition (and even self-doubt), you want to be able to secure a promotion that will be welcomed both by your peers and bosses equally. 

Whereas there are those who are very happy with their position and don’t crave promotion of any kind, equally there are those who do. And if you’re one of the latter, how do you achieve it? You plan........think 2021/2022/2023 and beyond.

First, you should identify clearly the role you want to go for, and why you want it. Then you must learn to understand that role fully, its requirements - and if you can fulfil them. Assuming you can, at this point take your boss into your confidence and be quite open about how you would like to progress. Remember – communication in all things is vital and if they are not only aware of your ambitions, they approve of them, that can be extremely useful.

Clearly, if you can demonstrate leadership qualities, even better. Being the individual, who others constantly turn to for help or advice, or who’s always willing to help others for the good of the whole team, will work well for you. However, be careful to keep focused. Being simply ‘reliable’ (“Oh, don’t worry, Douglas/ Adele will do it..” (And they do!)) can also mark you out as indispensable – something you don’t want, as you will probably remain so for a very long time… Someone who’s seen as ‘indispensable’ is unlikely to be allowed to move!

Wherever possible, employers generally prefer to promote from within the organisation than seek 
someone from outside – with all the cost of recruitment, and endless rounds of interviews that it entails. If their plans for this role have formed, but are still at the early stages, you can start to position yourself clearly within their sights. Discuss your interest in it with your boss. Keep in close touch with people within the organisation whose influence could help you enormously. Be confident enough to gain the support of both senior management and your wider peer group. (But be careful with that last one: there may be fierce competition hiding in the undergrowth.)

Again, you do want to become the natural ’turn to’ person in the office or department. Show you have an opinion about things – you don’t want to be mysterious or standoffish – but keep away from office politics or pointless character assassinations. This will help to make you a ‘person of interest’ among the office hierarchy.

Then of course there’s always room for a little espionage. If you can gain prior knowledge of an upcoming promotion or a new role being created, that could be very useful. People most likely to help you here are those in HR so keeping a friend or two there can often give you the inside track. This is not so much a cynical ploy meant to disadvantage others, but it does show a use of initiative. 

Gaining promotion can be straightforward, or a jungle of missed opportunities, competition and choosing the wrong running mate(s). However, if you manage to stand a little above the crowd, perform all your tasks by exceeding expectations, look after others and show both leadership qualities and real ambition, you will have performed to your best and promotion will surely follow.

Key Points

  • Know why you want promotion
  • Identify and familiarise yourself with the ‘new’ role
  • Confide in your boss (and others)
  • Show leadership qualities – become the ‘turn to’ person
  • Cultivate HR connections
  • Know your limitations

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