Career advancement must be a goal that you and I strive to attain on an ongoing basis. Consistent self-assessment must be made to ensure that progress is achieved. This progress should align with your career plan which flows out of your career vision.
Hereunder are 11 top strategies that you and I must observe for career advancement.
- Work Abroad
- Creation and continuous refinement of your career vision
- Career planning
- Develop your strengths
- Take a course
- Learn a foreign language
- Focus and Execution
Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
An effective mentor is an invaluable asset to your career. According to John C Crosby, mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction. A critical aspect of moving your career forward is identifying and working with a great mentor.
Great leaders who you and I may look up had mentors. Phil Knight the creator of Nike was inspired by Sony. Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. were both influenced by the work of Mahatma Gandhi.
Steve Jobs called the inventor of the Polaroid camera, Edwin Land his childhood hero. Steve Jobs was also very instrumental in mentoring Mark Zuckerberg during the start up phase of Facebook.
A mentor need not be someone at your workplace. A mentor need not be an expert in a skill that you want to learn. In fact your mentor could be someone who you have never met.
Having a face to face dialogue with someone who is a few steps ahead of you in your field may be able to provide solid mentoring advice. It could be advantageous working with someone who is a few steps ahead.
This individual is closer to your current position than someone who have walked the path several years before. Depending on the industry, best practices changes with time so having a mentor who is further along the same path as you could be priceless.
You may also decide to pattern yourself after someone you have never met or someone you admire. This can be achieved by signing up their courses, listening to their podcast or watching their YouTube videos. By doing this you use their knowledge to sharpen the skill that you want to master.
Everyone’s strength is different. Therefore, there could be wisdom in identifying more than one mentor in several areas that you want to develop. You will be able to glean from the strengths of numerous individuals.
Working abroad can help you advance your career and life because it will stretch you both personally and professionally. A new environment and culture will expose you to new knowledge and techniques of doing the same thing.
This will help expand your thinking and refine the way in which you do what you do. Working abroad will also challenge you personally as you are away from your family and the familiar. You will have to make new friends and adjust to new food and learn new hobbies.
Working abroad especially if the location is off the beaten path could signal useful personality traits to future employers. Employers especially those in international organisations readily embrace individuals who are culturally diverse and are comfortable stepping out of their comfort zone.
Reading is transformational and can expose you to new knowledge on a subject area very quickly. Consistent reading on an area can make you an expert in the field over time.
One great leader who has been able to evolve from a being burglar to one of the memorable voices in the civil rights movement in United States of America was Malcolm X.
While in prison for 7 years he dedicated his time to reading. He entered prison as a dropout from school with poor penmanship. Nevertheless, by reading when he was released was able to become an influential voice in the civil rights movement.
In his autobiography he described his time in prison as follows:
“From then until the time I left that prison, in every free moment I had, if I was not reading in the library, I was reading on my bunk. Between my visitors and reading of books, months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I never had been so truly free on my life “(page 173).
Creation and Continuous Refinement of Career Vision
The Book of Proverbs underscores the significance of having a vision. Proverbs chapter 29 verses 18 states where there is no vision, the people perish.
Vision is important so that you maintain a clear focus and direction. A Career vision is not singular activity but requires constant refinement. Your career planning should be aligned to the career vision.
I have written a post which covers the importance of creating a career vision. Feel free to have a read for deeper insight in this area.
The famous quote by Benjamin Franklin states by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
Similarly, the Book of Proverbs also emphasises the value of diligence and planning by drawing on the life of the ants. Proverbs chapter 30 verse 25 states that the ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer.
Therefore, having both a short term and long term career plan is essential. This takes identifying your career vision and creating a plan that aligns with this. A strategic technique which you can utilise in creating your career plan is the SWOT Analysis.
This model will ensure that you identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
I have written an article which extensively covers 10 questions to create a 5 year career plan that gets results. Feel free to check it out if you need a resource to help you create a long term career plan.
Develop your Strengths
An essential part of creating a career plan is to identify your strengths. The strategic planning technique, SWOT analysis as mentioned above will help you in doing so.
Once you have identified your strengths, you should focus on developing them. Get a mentor, take classes and practice so that you can become a master at that skill.
By doing this you will develop expert level competence in this area.
Take a Course
With the rise of the digital age, there are numerous ways for anyone in any part of the world to connect with experts by doing their course.
Furthermore, there are a lot of affordable free and budget friendly courses on various online platforms. Therefore, taking a class and embracing the spirit of continuous learning is a useful strategy to advance your career.
Locate experts, leaders and likeminded individuals in your field and connect with them. You can also utilise seminars and workshops as opportunities to network and connect with others in your industry.
Meetups.com is another site that you can use to meet persons especially if you are new to a city or to a country. You can get access to a range of events from this site. Networking is a great way to identify an accountability partner or to find a mentor.
Learn a Foreign Language
The ability to speak another language in addition to your native tongue could open up several career opportunities.
Since it is usually rare to find a native speaker who can speak another language, fluency in a foreign language can be an incredible source of competitive advantage in the job market.
Hobbies are very useful in career exploration. By identifying and engaging in a hobby for a period, you can discover areas that you enjoy and areas that you dislike.
In fact, career theorists, Donald super in his Self-Concept Theory of Career Development recommends the use of hobby for career exploration.
A hobby presents a safe environment for you to try out your ideas without the pressure of a performance review. Usually in a job your trial period is 90 days which is the probationary period.
With a hobby your trial period could be much longer which allows you the freedom to learn at your own pace. Who knows you may discover that your hobby could be the vehicle to a new full time career.
On the other hand, you may decide to keep your hobby as a side hustle. Having a diversified career is advantageous.
Focus and Execution
Once you are clear on your career vision and plan, it is important to execute actionable steps that will lead to career advancement.
This is usually the aspect where the rubber meets the road. Follow up diligently on the recommendations of a mentor. Spend time interacting with new individuals who you have met.
Take the course and set a deadline as to when you need to complete it. Reflect and revisit your career vision and plan at agreed intervals. Commit every week to spend 2 hours on your hobby.
Ultimately, only your ability to focus and execute intentionally will lead to your career advancement.
Trust you found the above article useful and you can implement if not all but a few of these into your career plan. With continuous effort over time your career will advance.
If you found this article valuable, I will be grateful if you can share it and leave a comment. For access to our free resource library with career templates, guides and checklists, click HERE to fill in the form. Thank you in advance for your support as I grow this blog.