Career advancement – introduction to basics
You would like to move forward with your career, but don’t know where to start? There are multiple ways how to do it, but they all have one thing in common – you have to be tenacious.
Career advancement doesn’t happen overnight and visible success is only the tip of the effort iceberg. We will pretend that this article is a scholar work and to make that impression we will start with the definitions. Starting with the advancement, this is how Cambridge Online Dictionary defines it:
“a profession for which one trains and which is undertaken as a permanent calling”
It’s an easy one, we all knew that. More interesting is the definition of a career, as there are 2 possible meanings of the word, depending how you use it. First meaning is the common one, let’s take the definition from Merriam Webster, explains it as:
“development or improvement of something”
We could debate how much training is possible to do before your career and is it possible to have a permanent calling to build up your career in, but this is not the topic of the article (we will cover it later). With training or not, if the word “career” is used as a verb, it gets a very different meaning and associated feeling. While career as a noun refers to something organized, planned, verb career describes something more chaotic:
“to go at top speed especially in a headlong manner”
Main question at this point for you, before you start thinking about advancing — how do you define your career now – as a noun or as a verb ?
Who are the stakeholders of your career ?
Do you know who has the influence over your career? Is this influence critical / non-critical, direct / indirect? We suggest you to use one of the tools from Project management books – Stakeholder analysis. Because your career is your project. Define who are the external, internal, active and passive players that have influence on your destiny. More details you can find in this article.
Every stakeholder needs a different approach, based on hers / his importance, but also depending on the personality and communication type, knowledge level and all other interests that are important to that person. Take the time and put some effort in learning how to manage your stakeholders.
Step #2: the most important step, spend some time on it, to define your current situation and possible career playing field
Your career advancement playing field is bounded by 2 things – what are you capable of doing and what other people think you are capable of doing. Some people are able to “fake it until they make it”, but most of us are missing that skill.
Do people consider you as an introvert or extrovert person? (if you don’t know -you can take the most widely known personality test – Myers-Briggs online test). More about Myers-Briggs personalities we covered in this article – check it out.
It actually doesn’t matter what is your actual personality, thing that matters is how other people perceive you. Do not be fooled, this is a difficult task and if you want real results you should be able to detach yourself from the beliefs and image you believe you are.
You would need to be very self aware to make this introspection and your self-confidence should be on a mature level to process the conclusions and to start changing yourself. If you cannot change yourself, you cannot change the others.
Let’s say that you manage to do this step and you know where you stand – what’s next? Next step is to match your strong and weak skills with the stakeholder map from the previous step. Goal is to understand what you can do easily and how quickly and which stakeholders you will not be able to put behind your bench as career supporters.
Step 3: Create your action plan and start with the execution
- Use Excel! Here is the excel template if you are too lazy and you want to skip to execution part
- Brainstorm with yourself and create wider list of all possible activities
- Categorize activities – be honest and put “ass kissing” when applicable
- Define a timeline for each activity
- Define a career stakeholder for each activity
- Create a shortlist of all activities which you can start executing today and last no longer than 1 month – if you cannot find any – go back to step #2
- Read 10 valuable Costanza rules for career progress
- Did you forget to put something about upgrading your skills? Go back to step #2
- Assign at least one buzzword to every activity from the list. Missing buzzwords – we got you covered!
- At the end of every day, go back to the excel and enter your feedback in the “Comment” field and cross out every activity that you executed