Talking Points

A happy young professional woman on the phone while using her laptop

A guide to career progression for young professionals

If you search online, you’ll find myriad articles on finding a job, but not many on young professionals’ career progression.

If you’re searching for a graduate job currently, then the article we wrote on acing a graduate job interview should be your first port of call.

However, if you are already settled into a job, then your mind might have moved on to career progression — after all, progression at work usually equals promotions and a pay increase.

You might assume that you will naturally progress — and in some jobs, you might — but, for most, you will need to work for your progress, and in this article, we will explore what that looks like for you.

Below, we’ll take a look at the steps you can take to assist with your career progression.

Decide on your end goal

Firstly, you can’t progress if you don’t know where you want to progress to! So, take some time to think about what you want from your career.

You may already know your end goal — in which case, you need to break down your journey there into manageable steps. For example, which roles will you need to move into on your path to the final role you’d like to settle in? This is called a career path.

If you don’t know your end goal, that is perfectly OK — either give it some thought until you decide or take it one step at a time and see how you feel at a later date. There are no deadlines for career progression, so don’t put any pressure on yourself.

Having said that, if you are keen to progress, then a plan will certainly help.

Be confident

A young professional Black woman looking confident and stood in an office

Confidence doesn’t come naturally to all young professionals so, if you’re not a very confident person, don’t worry — people can’t see your feelings so, if you control your behaviour, nobody will ever realise you lack confidence!

There are many methods to become more confident in the workplace, so read up on them and put them into practice.

Your confidence will organically grow the longer you spend in your job, too, as you will reach a point where you know it inside out.

If you are struggling with confidence, there is no shame in talking to your employer about it — they may be able to supply some training. After all, they want a confident workforce as it benefits them, too.

Make some noise

You might be excellent at your job, but the chances are, your manager won’t notice unless you shout about it.

Managers often manage many people and so your professional skills may go unnoticed for months or years unless you bring attention to them yourself.

So, don’t wait to get noticed; make sure management notices when you do a good job, and also ensure they realise that you expect to be rewarded for going the extra mile — whether that is regularly working late, helping out on extra projects, or helping newer employees to learn the ropes.

If you know what you want your next career step to be, bring that to your manager’s attention too — if you don’t tell them, they won’t know.

Once your line manager knows your goals, they can set you targets to help you reach them.

For example, if you want a promotion to the next level, you may need to demonstrate certain professional skills, go on a course, or learn about a specific tool.

Don’t make enemies

When you have a goal in sight, it can be tempting to do everything in your power to achieve it. For example, if you want a promotion and someone else is after that same position, you might feel extra determined.

A bit of healthy competition is fine but don’t let it get nasty — always remember that you will still have to work with that person after the decision has been made, and they may be the victor!

Likewise, don’t get sucked into any workplace drama or be tempted to play dirty — simply try your best and be nice.

If you fail to land the position the first time, try again at a later date. There’s no rush!

Keep learning

A young professional male architect or engineer who is disabled and sat in a wheelchair

The more you learn, the more useful you are to your employer and customers/clients, so it’s wise to keep your skills up-to-date and be willing to take on new responsibilities in the workplace.

If your employer offers learning opportunities, take advantage of those, but you can also pursue learning by yourself.

By constantly learning, you will put yourself at an advantage should a new job opportunity arise, and you are also demonstrating how keen and committed you are.

Build a network

Take time to develop a network of valuable contacts outside of your current employment — you never know when they might come in handy.

Focus your attention on others in your industry, friends of friends, alumni, and anyone related to the roles you plan to occupy in the future.

For example, imagine you are made redundant or cannot progress with your current employer because there is only one role available, and it is taken.

In your network, you might know a manager within another company who could employ you or put a word in for you where they work.

Don’t be loyal for the sake of being loyal

Following on from the last point, don’t be afraid of moving from your current employer once you are contractually able to do so.

Even where loyalty is rewarded, if you aren’t able to achieve the career of your dreams with an employer, then you may wish to move on.

Decide what is most important to you at each stage of your career and pursue it wholeheartedly — whether with your current employer, a new employer, or in a self-employed manner.

If you are looking for accommodation, then take a look at where young professionals live in Leeds — including Horsforth, Morley, and Brighouse.

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