You might be lucky enough to have a manager who helps you advance your career, but you might not. Either way, you deserve to have the career you want, and ultimately, it’s your job to advance your career.
Here are four steps you can take to advance your career:
Advance Your Career Step One: Learn about different areas of your organization and become clear on what you want to learn and what areas of the business you want exposure to. You won’t know what to ask for from your manager if you don’t know what your organization does and the opportunities that are available.
Advance Your Career Step Two: Get to know the leaders and employees in other departments. Find out what they do on a daily basis, the initiatives they’re working on, and their short and long-term goals.
If you’re working virtually or in a hybrid environment, you may be wondering how to learn more about your organization and build relationships from a distance? How do you meet with people you never see? Anything you can do in-person, you can do over the phone or via video. It’s nice to be able to walk into someone’s office and ask a question or connect with someone in the hallway or a breakroom, but it isn’t essential.
Reach out to people in the organization you already know. You can make these connections via email or phone. I recommend phone. Tell people you want to learn more about the organization’s objectives and different departments. Ask who they can connect you with. Networking and building new business relationships virtually takes more upfront work than walking into someone’s office, but it can be done. Ask people to make virtual connections for you and then follow up on those connections within one business day.
Remember the job search advice you were given early in your career, to have informational interviews with people doing the work you wanted to do? Getting to know your current organization better is similar. Ask for informational meetings within your organization. And then communicate with the people you’re connected with in the way THEY like to communicate. Tell a person you’ve been connected with that you’d appreciate 15 minutes of their time and ask how they’d like to meet – via phone or video? Then schedule a short meeting via their preferred medium. When the 15-minutes is up, tell the person, you’re watching the time and you respect their time. Ask if they’d like to hang up or continue the conversation? And then honor their request. If you’d like to meet again, ask for another meeting. If there are next steps, make those steps clear and follow up via email, if it’s appropriate.
Advance Your Career Step Three: Ask your manager, your peers, and other organizational leaders who you need a good working relationship with and who can influence your next career opportunity.
You never know who talks to whom and who can influence your future opportunities. Department heads you don’t know well talk to other department heads. Don’t assume that because you don’t know someone well that they can’t influence your next opportunity or lack thereof.
Advance Your Career Step Four: Tell people who can influence your career what you want to do.
Don’t assume people know what you want to do in the future. In fact, assume others have no idea about the work you want to do and the things you want to learn. Tell people, “I’m really interested in learning more about ___________. I’d like exposure to __________ part of our organization.”
Your career is your responsibility. Don’t wait for your manager make your career happen. Take matters into your own hands. Follow the steps above and get more of what you want at work.