Moving Up: Tackling Career Advancement
Are you thinking about the next steps towards success in your industry? Climbing the career ladder from an entry-level job is an expected part of professional life. Figuring out the best way to get from Point A to Point B, however, can be a little overwhelming. Jennifer Gray, founder and President of Market Street Talent, shared her thoughts on professional development, networking, and the importance of learning from those around you.
Communicate Your Plan
“Keeping an open dialog with your manager is important as he or she can have significant impact on your professional development and career progression,” says Jennifer. Don’t be afraid to bring up your career goals when meeting with your supervisor, especially when he or she asks how you feel things are going in your position. If you’re fortunate enough to have informal check-ins with your manager or supervisor, he or she will likely welcome the occasional conversation about your overall goals and how they fit into your current role. As Jennifer phrased it, “Good managers will appreciate the effort and open communication. Great managers will help guide and support your efforts, and maybe even offer to be a mentor or sponsor!”
Put in the Time
Job searching can be as much work as a full time job. Between identifying what’s next for you, networking, and any training you might need, it will take some dedication to make your move. “Know what your professional goals are and plan accordingly,” suggests Jennifer. Do a little research to find out what qualifications the positions you’re targeting require. Sign up for classes if you’ll need a certification. Gain leadership experience through volunteer work. Jennifer sums it up nicely: “Determine your gaps and do your best to fill them, showing a future employer that you are a forward-thinking doer.”
Jennifer highlights networking as a particularly valuable, yet time consuming, piece of the puzzle. “It’s important to build your network by attending networking events, participating in meetups, meeting new people through referrals and introductions, and becoming even more active on social media platforms,” Jennifer says. Don’t forget about the network you already have in place – often, you can kick off your job search by sharing what you’re looking for in a role with people you already know. Once you’ve explored your immediate and secondary circles, you’ll probably have a good idea of where you could improve and make better connections.
Find a Mentor
Guidance from a mentor or sponsor can be invaluable when you’re taking steps to further your career. “When I first started working at Liberty Mutual just out of college, I had a manager who I considered a mentor,” Jennifer recalls. “He led me through the steep learning curve that comes with a new career in Management Information Systems in the Insurance industry. I benefited greatly from his guidance.” Is there someone in your current company who has the job you’d like to have someday? Maybe you have a friend who can introduce you to a connection they’ve made who has experience in your industry. Seek out an opportunity to speak with a potential mentor – whether in a formal meeting or over coffee – and ask about his or her experiences earlier on in their career. Hearing about others’ journeys may help you to better map out your own career path.
Professional development can be challenging, but it is worth all of the time and effort. Like many things in life, you get out what you put in. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you when you’re getting ready to make your next career move – use your connections, make new ones, and seek out mentorship from your professional superiors. Working with an experienced staffing firm is another great way to maximize your “reach” within your industry, as well as get feedback on your resume, LinkedIn profile, and other portfolios. Wishing you the best in your career journey!