Career growth and development are some of the top things people look for in jobs.
Yet, most aren’t growing.
Why is that?
It could be that you:
- Were hired for a job, promised growth, and now have so much work that you don’t have time for anything else
- Have a manager that doesn’t support you or advocate for you
- Simply don’t know where to start
If that sounds like you stay tuned for 3 little-known ways to improve your career growth.
Now, what is career growth?
Career growth refers to the big picture of your professional life. It is defined by the roles and responsibilities over the course of your career.
Most often achieved through promotion, a career advance is considered to be a move from one position to another of greater seniority.
For example, a move from project manager to senior project manager would typically be considered career advancement and a positive step in your overall career growth.
How can you improve your career growth?
Making the next step in your career can be hard.
Whether it be a promotion or lateral move, hiring managers typically look for a trusted candidate, one that can be vouched for by people that they know and trust.
How can you increase your chances and become that person that others can vouch for?
In my experience, there are three core actions that you can take to make it easier to become the preferred candidate. That includes:
- Developing your “supporters”
You might be surprised to learn about self-advocacy and its importance… Read on to find out more!
1. Build a network within your target company.
Without knowing anyone in the industry or company, you can always find your start using LinkedIn. See below for a sample approach.
- Connect via LinkedIn with people in your target industry and company for a coffee chat. Make sure that you send a customized note with your invitation and make note of any common ground (ex. alumni, worked at the same company, etc.)
- Keep connections warm – check in periodically, add value by recommending a book or article, or let them know that their advice was helpful and that you applied it to a real situation.
- When you see openings at your target company, ask those connections to connect you with the hiring manager and ask them to put in a good word. You can even send them 2-3 sentences about yourself and ask that they share this when making an introduction if they know the hiring manager.
Do not get discouraged if people do not reply. I found that my typical response rate was 20%, with 1 of every 2 new connections agreeing to a coffee chat.
Send follow-up messages 1-2 weeks after. People are often busy and very few people actually follow up after an initial request.
Not only can you meet some truly great people, but those same folks can also help you in your career by passing on valuable knowledge, or by helping with new introductions.
In other words, you want to…
2. Find your supporters.
As you build your network, you will inevitably get along better with some people and worse with others. It’s extremely challenging (and not always worth it) to get along with everyone.
Find those that will support you and work to keep that connection strong.
This may come in the form of a mentor that is more advanced in their career, or a new friend that is just a couple of steps ahead. Internally, this may be a manager or senior leader that will support you and shout your praise.
Having someone that becomes an advocate for yourself and is able to showcase your work and skills is invaluable. INVALUABLE!
- remove doubts that a hiring manager may have when considering your application
- give you access to the “hidden” job market (roles that are never posted)
- inform you of opportunities before they arise so that you can begin preparing for a role before it is publicly announced
Having others vouch for your abilities, removes the risk that a hiring manager faces when making the choice to bring on a new team member.
Finally, you really need to…
Depending on your personality, or your situation, this may be the most difficult of the three ways to grow your career. Self-advocacy is a way of highlighting your impact to leaders that would otherwise be unaware.
You can highlight and quantify your impact through:
- status updates
- and routine touchpoints.
Ex. Maybe you launched a new project that is expected to impact 1,000 users and save the company $100k annually. Make sure that your team and leaders know about your great work through a post-launch update.
In the United States and in Canada, it is expected that you will highlight your accomplishments and showcase your success.
What does that mean?
…By staying quiet and “letting your work speak for itself” you can find yourself at a disadvantage.
You can find the method of communication that is most comfortable and that works for you. A couple of ideas include:
- email update to leaders on project results
- PPT presentation to your manager and their manager that they can then showcase in other meetings (it helps them look good as well)
- an update during your team meeting
- a thank you to your stakeholders with a note about the impact of the initiative
So, what’s next?
Your career growth is in now your hands! I hope that you enjoyed these little-known ways to improve your career growth. Now that you’ve given them a read…
I’d like to hear from YOU on how you put these tips to use.
Did they work for you? What other advice would you give?
Let me know in the comments below.