Career growth: Preparing for advancement

Vicki Wright Hamilton sitting in chair holding cash smiling

The typical career looked like an entry-level employee going from one role to the next as they “settled” into their field to then land a role that allowed for long-term growth. From there, they’d build a career that spanned 20 or 30 years of growth within the same company until it was time to retire. This was perceived as stability, progression and loyalty. And it came with steady pay raises and regular promotions.

This traditional path is predictable and safe. However, it can stifle employees’ growth. So now, professionals choose to shift roles, go to other companies and even make lateral moves in order to increase their earning potential and advance their trajectory more quickly. There’s also a boom in less traditional paths like entrepreneurship, freelancing or consulting as people increasingly look for alternative income streams.

Whether you’re actively looking for new career opportunities or not, there are some steps you need to keep in mind so that you’re prepared when the time comes.

How to always be prepared for career growth

First, keep track of your professional achievements.

Regardless of your future plans for career growth, it’s essential that you save your accomplishments and measurable results in your current role. This may look like specific metrics that tie to company revenue, increases in productivity for your teams, or successful initiatives you’ve led.

Whatever the case, you can create a success folder documenting the results and praises you achieve in your current role. Memories fade and it’s easy to forget past accomplishments, so you’ll be glad you compiled them when it’s time to demonstrate your authority. This portfolio can help you land a raise or promotion, or it can serve you well as you interview for new roles.

Second, maintain an updated resume.

It’s easier to update your resume periodically as your career and experience grow than it would be to start from scratch once the job search begins. In addition, you never know when an opportunity might present itself, and you’ll want to be ready for it. Do this by updating your LinkedIn profile with your most recent roles, responsibilities, and tangible results, and reflect the same information in a Word document.

Something crucial to remember is that you want your resume to be ATS-friendly. An ATS, or Applicant Tracking System, is the software hiring managers use to run the hiring process, and it culls through countless data to pull the best candidates for the manager to review. Some key pointers include the format (note that we mention Word documents above, not PDFs), keywords (job titles, responsibilities, and industry jargon, for example), and chronological order (as opposed to functional or others).

Third, expand your network.

Your network is the single most important element of your career growth. Knowing the right people and keeping good relationships with them can open doors you may not have realized existed. In fact, research shows that 85% of all jobs are filled through a referral.

Nurture your network by sending periodic messages, inviting acquaintances to coffee or lunch every now and then, and keeping up with their personal and career milestones.

In addition to one-on-one connection, attend industry events and make it a point to engage with people outside your circle. And follow the old adage of treating others as you’d like to be treated by connecting them to potential opportunities or people whose needs and interests align.

Fourth, continue to educate yourself.

Keeping your skills sharp and learning about the latest developments in your industry makes you an attractive candidate and a valuable employee. Especially now that technology progresses so quickly.

Plus, working on your personal development boosts your career growth, nurtures your confidence and empowers you to take on new responsibilities and step out of your comfort zone.

Fifth, keep all options on the table.

Loyalty and stability were prized characteristics of traditional career growth. However, this is no longer the case. Now, people have shifted to prioritizing their wellness, flexibility, income potential, and growth above employers’ well-being.

If you’re having difficulty finding a role or company that aligns with your needs, consider creating your own. Entrepreneurship is increasingly popular, with 3.8 million new business applications and counting filed in 2022 in the US.

While it may be an intimidating prospect, starting a business that supports your vision of the life you want to live is always a possibility.

Career growth is not one-size-fits-all

Traditionalists still consider it the pinnacle of success to work with the same company for 40 years, retire and walk away with a gold watch. But the tides have changed for many professionals who are willing to expand their horizons and embark on new adventures as they seek fulfillment and a lifestyle that aligns with their goals.

The road is filled with risks, as we’ve seen over the past year, with tech layoffs, failed startups, and an uncertain economic landscape. But the higher the risk, the higher the potential for a reward. And just as we see startups fail, we see others rise above the highest expectations. So there’s plenty to look forward to as you prepare for your next step.

Is it time to strategize your next move for career growth? Book a discovery call, and together, we’ll craft a path forward for you.

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