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From entry-level employees to senior executives, no one wants to feel like they are standing still at work. They want to be moving forward, taking on new challenges and responsibilities, earning more money, and acquiring new skills.
That, in a nutshell, is career progression. For most people, their goal will be to climb the professional ladder. Financial reward is one chapter of the career progression story, but it is not the whole book. It is also about taking on roles in which you feel passionate and motivated.
While exciting new opportunities may sometimes crop up out of the blue, finding them will more often require you to put in the work to further your own career. Here, we will show you how to do it.
Most companies have some form of appraisal system. It may involve annual reviews or quarterly check-ins, but the purpose is ultimately the same:
It can be easy to treat appraisals as something just to “get through”, to simply nod along and say the right things. But they have a key function in career progression, so you should absolutely engage with them. Take feedback onboard and discuss future development targets.
Career progression is not something you can tackle alone. Clearly, you need support from your line manager and other business leaders. Additionally, it can be helpful to get advice and guidance from a coach or mentor.
While they are similar, there are some differences between coaching and mentoring:
Both can be invaluable partners in helping you to overcome professional challenges, figure out how to reach the next level in your career, and succeed with important tasks like preparing for interviews or understanding your development options.
As with appraisals, most employers offer some form of training and development. Internal training will often focus on the practicalities of the role, such as how to perform specific tasks more effectively. Additionally, your organisation may encourage staff to take part in external training sessions and courses designed to teach you new skills or tackle common challenges in new ways.
While it may be tempting to simply wait for training and development opportunities to open up for you, a little proactivity can pay big dividends. If there are areas of your job that you struggle with, or new skills you are eager to gain, you should discuss it with your line manager.
You do not necessarily need to limit yourself to training that is directly related to your current role. If you are keen to acquire a skill or capability that will help you progress to more senior positions, you may still be able to persuade your employer to sign you up for a relevant training programme, provided there is a business benefit to doing so.
Remember, career progression is not just about earning more money; it is also about finding new roles that make you feel fulfilled. To do that, you need to define your career goals and figure out how to achieve them. The best way to do this is to create a career progression plan that sets out your current position on the career ladder, the place you want to get to, and all the points in between.
Of course, nothing is set in stone, and you will almost certainly have to adapt your career plan over time. Surprising and compelling opportunities may come along, or your priorities may change. But keeping one eye on the bigger picture will ensure you are always heading in the right direction.
If you are looking for further career guidance, you can browse our latest articles here. If you are looking for your next role, you can set up an introductory conversation with one of our expert consultants here.