Are you feeling stuck in your career? Like you’re not getting any closer to your goals no matter how hard you try? You’re not alone. Many people feel this way at some point in their careers. In today’s ever-changing workforce, many people are trying to get ahead in their careers. The good news is that there is a way to level up your career fast if you know what to do. Having a strategy, taking actionable steps and being confident in yourself will help set you up for success.
In this blog post, we will discuss a 7-step strategy to get ahead faster in your career. Remember you are responsible for your career success, so take charge and start levelling up!
Recommended reading: How to Know You're Ready for a Manager Role?
7 Simple Ways to Get Ahead in Your Career:
1. Define your goals
Defining your goal is the first step to getting ahead in your career. What do you want to achieve? What does success look like to you? Once you have a clear goal in mind, you can start taking steps to achieve it.
Simply stating "I want to get ahead is too vague". Would a 6% increase in salary be enough? Would added responsibility feel like you are getting ahead? Do you want to level up, pivot, or move horizontally? Getting ahead can mean different things, depending on your definition of success.
Be very clear about what you want: what is the exact role and title, and what is the salary you are looking for? What type of job responsibilities will constitute getting ahead.
My advice: write down your goal in one sentence:
I want to be a [role, seniority], at a [company type, size, industry] and make [salary expectations].
2. Start your job thinking about the next level in your career
This may seem counter-intuitive. Shouldn't you start by demonstrating you're good at your current job? Absolutely! But you can do both.
Starting with the next level in mind means having a strategy at hand, so you can make better decisions as you navigate your day-to-day.
For example: if an opportunity comes along to join a new project you can easily decide if you want to spend your time on it. You'll just have to ask yourself: will it move me closer to my goal? If the answer is yes, go for it. If the answer is no, spend your time elsewhere.
3. Have a plan of action
Having a clear goal is important, but how do you know what you'll need to do to achieve your goal? How do you plan your work and create opportunities?
Simple. You reverse engineer the steps required to get to the next level.
By reviewing job descriptions
By talking to people who are already at the next level to learn from their experiences
By asking your manager or looking at your company's levels guide
You'll end up with a list of 3-7 skills and experiences you need to gain. Now you'll need to create opportunities to gain those skills.
4. Understand the business, not just your discipline
This is a game-changer in driving growth. When you understand how the different parts of the organisation work, the business model, and the company's goal, you can make decisions that will have a greater impact on the business goals.
You don't have to be an expert in everything, but you should understand how your work affects other parts of the organisation and connects to the company's goals.
For example, if you're in marketing, try to understand how the product is made, what the target market is, and how sales work. If you're in sales, try to understand the product and what goes on behind the scenes. If you're in HR, try to understand how different departments work together and what the company's business model is.
The more value you add, the more valuable you become. If you can make a bigger impact, you'll get ahead faster.
5. Dig for opportunities
When you have a plan of action, it's time to start looking for opportunities. But don't just wait for them to come to you – go out and find them! There's no way around it – if you want to level up your career, you need to be prepared to put in the extra effort and actively look for opportunities rather than waiting for opportunities to come to you.
Look for opportunities to, for example:
Gain new skills
Demonstrate your value
Be exposed to new experiences
Solve problems or close any gaps
Take over tasks from your manager
6. Go beyond your job description
That means saying no to things that don't move you toward your goals and saying yes to things that will contribute to your goal, even if they scare you. It means being proactive and taking initiative.
For example, if your goal is to move into management, start taking on more responsibility. That might mean chairing a committee, leading a project, or training new hires.
7. Have a conversation about levelling up
If you don't ask you don't get.
If you want something you need to ask for it. While you may be doing an incredible job, your manager probably has 100 things to think about that has nothing to do with you. Make their life easier and tell them what you want. Share your goals with your manager early, so it's not a surprise. Keep them updated about your progress and every now and then remind them about your goal.
So, how can you level up your career? Start by having a plan of action and understanding the business, not just your discipline. Look for opportunities to gain new skills and experiences. Strategically go beyond your job description and have a conversation about levelling up with your manager. If you do all of this, you'll be on your way to a successful career in no time!
Remember, if you want something, you need to ask for it. So don't be afraid to go after your goals and put in the extra effort to achieve them. With a little hard work and dedication, you can level up your career fast!