When you think about career growth, have you ever noticed a coworker who doesn’t work as hard as you, who is not quite as intelligent as you, but she keeps getting promoted—and you don’t? These promotions happen while you sit at the same desk doing the same tasks for years.
It’s logical to expect your boss to give you a promotion when you’ve earned one. It’s also logical to expect that the HR department has a succession plan in place that should include planned promotions at all levels—including yours. But if you want to experience career growth, you need to take matters into your own hands. Here are four ways to take responsibility for your own career growth.
Speak Up Before an Opportunity Arises
Sometimes a colleague gets promoted, or a new hire comes in for a job you never even knew existed—a job you would have applied for if you’d known about it.
As you’re setting your goals for the next year, talk about what you want to do and ask for assignments to projects that will help you achieve this. If you want to manage people, tell your boss and ask her to make you the team leader on a project. If you want to move from tax accounting to auditing, ask if you can work with any special projects or cross-functional teams.
Find Out What Training You Need and Pursue It
People often talk about the importance of having a mentor, and this is one of the reasons. For instance, some jobs will favor people with MBAs. If you want that type of job, you’d better go back to school. If you want to become a high school principal, your bachelor’s degree in math education probably won’t cut it. If you want to become the head of HR one day, you might want to pursue an SPHR certification or a master’s degree in HR or an MBA. Some career paths don’t require formal certifications or degrees, so spending your time on them is great for your brain but won’t necessarily help your career. That’s why you should ask people who are doing jobs that you think you’d like.
Put yourself forward to be developed as a leader
Don’t be shy or hesitant about putting yourself forward as someone who’s interested in being developed as a leader. Sometimes, there’s not a formal way to do that in your organization, so be sure to communicate that to people that you work with. Let them know that you see yourself as someone who has that potential and interest to develop in that area. Waiting for something to happen to you may well bring disappointment.
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want
“Sometimes, you have to ask for it. If you see something, don’t expect it will be there for you or it will be given to you. One very important part of my career was when I decided to go back to my professional role but not full time. I really was afraid to ask for it, but somebody said, “How will you know unless you ask?” So, I went in. I presented a proposal along with someone else who I knew wanted the same thing as I did, and we proposed a job share. If I hadn’t asked, I would probably have just either gone back full time or done something I wasn’t very comfortable with personally.
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