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How to guarantee career progression

Whilst making the move from University into the working world might have felt like one tremendous battle, it’s progressing up the ranks in your chosen career that will present you with some unique challenges.

Don’t be put off, though, as career progression is possible. With a bit of strategic thinking and hard work, you’ll be well on your way to meeting your goals.

Before you can progress in any career, ensure your own objectives are clear in your mind. For this, the acronym SMART is useful for defining your goals –make sure your objectives are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and have a Timescale for completion. Once these objectives have been defined, you’ll be able to plan the work towards them.

Career progression is not necessarily offered automatically - even to the most deserving employees. In many cases, staff are rewarded sooner or later if they ask or subtly let their superior know of their desire to make progress. Whether it’s during official appraisal meetings or at informal conversations at the water cooler; letting your boss know you’re keen to take on more responsibility and want to progress up the business hierarchy can really help.

Show enthusiasm 

It is also important to display commitment and appropriate enthusiasm along the way. A responsible attitude is crucial; managers also appreciate those who have energy and passion for delivering results on time and within budget. It’s unusual for skills like this to go unnoticed.

Assess your skill set 

Make a note of  your skills, as well as the ones that you are prepared to gain. You may find you have to make short and medium term plans to fill any skill gaps in order to move steadily towards those long-term goals. Consider volunteering for any special projects or challenging assignments – often, new opportunities lead to other doors that may open. Our superiors appreciate solutions, not problems.

Keep your eye on the ball 

Keep an eye on the opportunities that may be available to you, take notice of what people say, keep learning and be active. In larger organisations, monitor human resources department resources and courses. As well as in-house training, there may be some reimbursement for external tuition.

Be responsible 

Be willing to accept responsibility, by taking on extra work. It indicates an ability to do what it takes when the situation demands - even if this means occasionally having to go the extra mile. Don’t let office politics bring you out of line. Remember that negative tactics, such as trying to score points to the detriment of others, form a poor long-term strategy and can easily rebound on the miscreant.

If there are few or no opportunities for career progression in your current organisation, it may be time to take your career elsewhere. Employees can sometimes outgrow a company or seek a change in direction. Finding a new position may be the best solution to fulfil your career goals in the long-term.

The CV is a key career development and personal marketing tool. Two to three pages is the generally accepted maximum; towards the end, any pertinent hobbies or leisure and non-work activities can be mentioned. These should demonstrate any transferable skills linked to the new job. A successful record of accomplishment in the current job and important milestones or successful achievements can be included while a quality covering letter or email text is your opportunity to tell the potential new employer why you are applying. Remember to summarise the strongest areas of your profile; people skills can be as important as technical skills.

Finally, it is also helpful to do some research and have realistic salary expectations – a level which is fair reward for the employee’s effort and commitment to the job, while also acceptable to the employer’s budget.

Good luck in your chosen career path!