You work hard, and you have a great track record plus lots of experience, but you keep being overlooked for that promotion you’ve put so much effort into achieving. So what can you do to turn things around?
Sometimes being an all-round great employee just isn’t enough, and you need to go the extra mile to make yourself stand out from the crowd.
You’ll be able to find loads of advice online about how you can climb the career ladder quicker and endless tips on how to get yourself noticed, in fact, so much so, you can start to wonder which ones you really need to be doing and whose advice you should be following first.
To simplify things, most of this advice boils down into three main categories, never stop learning, know the right people and be hands-on. How someone achieves those things will vary from person to person and career to career, but if you focus on this trio, you should find your career taking off.
Never stop learning
There are lots of ways to keep learning new things. It can be as simple as making sure you always have some kind of reading material to hand, whether that’s a book by the bedside table or an industry-related magazine on the coffee table. It doesn’t always need to be work-related either; you’d be surprised how much useful information you might pick up from a biography or even a well-written novel.
The obvious way to deepen your learning is to seek professional guidance. Train in a new area to add more strings to your bow, get certificates in areas you are already proficient in as proof you really do know your stuff or look at higher education to become an expert in your field.
You don’t need to up sticks and head back to the university campus either. There are a multitude of online learning opportunities available; for example, an engineer wishing to take the next step in their career could opt for an MBA or a Master of Science in Engineering Management and complete the entire course online – for more information on that, click here.
Give something back from time to time and volunteer. You could pick up different skills along the way that you might not have done inside of work. Taking part in an exciting project also gives you something interesting to write on your CV, and not only that, it’s a great way to add new people to your network too; more on that later.
It’s also a good idea to frequently give yourself a personal review. Reflecting on how you are performing and if there is anything you aren’t excelling at can help you to identify areas you might consider getting training in. That could be a practical skill you can learn with a course or something like confidence building, where you might look for a self-help book instead.
Know the right people
The right people for you may be able to offer guidance and support, could offer experiences or share openings, or they could even be the very people offering the promotions themselves.
So much of life is dictated not by what you know but who you know, so it makes sense to widen your circle and start inviting the “right” people into your life.
This is the reason one of the pieces of advice you will hear most frequently is to “network”. There are so many different ways to do this; some you can do right now, others you can work on over time. Some just might not suit you or your personality, and that’s fine too; you still need to be you, just a slightly more proactive one.
Social media is a gift for this. It means you can connect with everyone from the person you chatted to in the office break room the other day to a well-known business leader you admire. You don’t need to join every social media option out there; choose the ones that resonate with you; just remember, if you are using a social media account to network, keep it professional and only post content you are happy for all to see.
When reaching out to experts in your industry, you may find you end up speaking to someone willing to mentor you, too, which could be an invaluable source of information and advice. Consider which people inspire you, who you admire or look up to, and try to think of genuine ways to interact with them. Comment on things they share, ask questions, and offer advice and information for others too.
Networking also means making yourself known in the workplace too. Speak up at meetings or during training sessions, don’t be afraid to contact senior members of staff with ideas and if there are socials or away days, make sure you go along and get chatting with people you might not normally get to speak to.
This is all about being positive, proactive, and a people person. Make yourself approachable to others, whether that’s a boss looking for someone to help out with some tasks or a new member of staff who needs help learning the ropes.
Put yourself forward for an unpopular project, and you will stand out from your peers as someone willing to roll their sleeves up and do some of the dirty work. Even if it’s something you think might be beyond your skillset, go for it anyway and stretch yourself as that’s often when the best learning happens. Living life on the edge will make your job that little bit more exciting too, you’ll also get a much greater sense of achievement by stepping out of your comfort zone and won’t go unnoticed with your boss either.
Try not to be a clock-watcher. You should, of course, strike the proper work/life balance, but if you do occasionally need to work an hour or two over your contracted hours, do it and earn some brownie points.
Keep these three rules in mind and try to tick something off every day, whether that’s reading something before bed, speaking up in the next board meeting, or volunteering yourself for the next big work project, and you should see your CV improving along with your chances of promotion.