Committing time and effort to forge ahead in your career is crucial. If you don’t, others will readily seize the opportunity to move ahead.
Whether you’re on the first rung of the career ladder or have already climbed a few steps, it’s imperative to chart a course to unlock your full potential in the workplace.
We’ve outlined your roadmap to success, with eight simple steps to propel your career forward.
How to progress in your career
Everyone’s career path is unique, but there are specific steps anyone can take to develop professionally and better their career — whatever their industry.
1. Set career goals
You can’t truly advance until you know where you want to go. Consider your dream job and create a set of goals that will get you there.
You may need help with this task — especially if you’re only at the start of your career — so reach out to your manager, a mentor, or wider network for support and guidance.
Begin with long-term goals and break those down into smaller, short-term goals to create a career path you can easily pursue.
Read up on SMART goals and how to set them, then use them to achieve your career objectives.
2. Communicate openly with your manager
Talk to your manager about your career goals and ask them about opportunities for advancement within the company — there are probably more than you realise.
Once your manager knows you’re interested in professional growth and career progression, you’ll be on their radar for help, advice, training, and any suitable new positions that arise.
3. Request feedback
You may only have formal reviews with your manager once or twice a year, which can feel infrequent when you’re keen to climb the career ladder.
Take the initiative and request informal check-ins between the scheduled reviews with your manager. Use these opportunities to seek feedback on your work and check you’re on the right track.
If your manager says there are things you could do better, you’ll have the chance to improve before your next formal review, which speeds things along.
Whatever your role, we’d encourage you to ask your peers for feedback, too, as they may witness more of your work than your manager.
Managers tend to see top-level achievements, but your colleagues are likelier to see how you communicate, deal with adversity, and achieve many tasks.
If you’re in a management role, speak to those you supervise and ask them for ways they feel you could improve in your role, too.
4. Check your job options
Regularly check for vacancies in your sector both internally and externally. Set a weekly reminder or make it a positive Sunday night habit.
This step almost sounds too simple, but most people are so busy with work and their private life that they forget to factor in time for checking the job market.
Knowing what’s available in your sector gives you a feel for salaries and keeps you abreast of who’s hiring and what companies are looking for from their candidates.
You can decide whether to stay where you are and advance internally or take a position elsewhere to move up in your professional field.
5. Keep learning
Adopting a lifelong learning mindset helps you to advance your career. Keep up with changes within your industry and build out your knowledge to cover future career moves.
For example, if you want your next role to be in management, spend some time reading about various management techniques and watching other managers at work. Take note of how they communicate, lead others, solve problems, and work within the wider team.
You may disagree with how a manager handles a situation, but even knowing this can be an important lesson and help form the type of manager you aspire to become.
Look into Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to identify potential areas for skill growth and speak to your manager about it, as CPD benefits you and your employer.
Bridge knowledge gaps with any development and training your workplace provides.
Cultivate a habit of reading books, listening to podcasts, and following thought leaders in your field.
By investing in yourself professionally, you position yourself as a valuable asset and open doors to new possibilities.
6. Embrace challenges and take risks
Career progression can be boosted when you step outside of your comfort zone.
Seek out projects that stretch your abilities and showcase your potential. If no opportunities exist at work, create one — suggest an initiative and take ownership of it. You’ll gain valuable experience and visibility within the company.
One opportunity often leads to others, so don’t be surprised if your name is put forward again.
If you’re shy or lack confidence, you can take a risk by speaking up and sharing your opinion in team meetings, suggesting creative solutions to problems, or offering support to others.
Taking these risks will build your confidence and get you noticed.
7. Use your network
Nobody can progress at work without the support of others, so nurture your professional network, and it will be there for you when you need it.
Use LinkedIn to grow your network and connect with colleagues, others in your industry, and experts in your field.
See your network as an investment — be generous with your time, introduce people who can help each other, and congratulate others on their achievements.
You could also attend industry events and join professional associations and groups to keep up with industry news, building your network further.
Nurturing your network can lead to unique possibilities for growth.
8. Take note of achievements
Make a note of your career achievements in a document and add to it every time you complete a training course, learn a new skill, present at an event, or receive positive feedback.
Achievements can quickly be forgotten, so this document will be enjoyable to look back on and helpful when you’re in a performance review or negotiating a pay rise or promotion.
If you apply for a job elsewhere, a list of professional achievements will save you time and effort with application forms, cover letters, and interview preparation.
If you’ve enjoyed reading our helpful tips for career progression, you’ll love our blog post on why volunteering is beneficial for your career, too.