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How to Move up within a Company – Career Progression Secrets

How to Move up within a Company – Career Progression Secrets

This is for the people out there who want to have a bigger positive impact and be more influential within their company. This is not for ‘climbers’ who just want to rise for the sake of rising. This is for people with serious career progression in mind who want to move up using ethical strategies.

In 5 years, I have figured out how to rise to one of the top positions within a government department that has serious competition for the best roles. By rising quickly, I have become the youngest Senior Adviser by far, have doubled my income, and don’t have any particular qualifications.

The strategies I’m about to share with you are about how to take your strengths and turn them into an asset for the company you work for. This is about combining what you love most with some boundaries to ensure that your rise up the ranks is relatively risk-free. Follow this guide to become irreplaceable, with a widely known reputation for performance, integrity and results.

You can ask almost anyone in the Department I work for, and they will have heard good things about me. Not only that, they will know me as a high achiever and solid performer. We’re talking hundreds of people, including some I’ve never even met. Don’t get me wrong, some of them do not like me at all, but I am confident they at least respect me.

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I’m not a better person than anyone else–I have simply learned the steps on how to create a rock-solid reputation, where I’m well known and respected. For the first few promotions, I had to apply 3 or 4 times before I got them. For my last promotion, I pretty much walked onto the job due to my reputation alone. Now, I have other services trying to poach me.

I’m no better than you–you can be in this same situation if you apply the following rules and techniques to build up your reputation. Try the steps below and see how you go.

THINGS YOU SHOULD DO

1. Proactively identify the company’s biggest problems and contribute to solving them

Offer to design and deliver training sessions to staff on how to do something better. Ask your boss and other senior staff what the company needs to fix and then figure out how to help fix it. Just showing your support will help you get the “company-focused problem solver” label, which is an awesome way to be seen.

I once accidentally got sent minutes from a meeting of senior managers, and in these notes they specifically mentioned me as a “secret weapon.” This is how you want to be known. By solving problems no one else is taking on, you make yourself valuable, because you create a role that wasn’t there before which only you can fill.

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2. Support your manager

Know that your boss is always going to pretty much be a mandatory referee for you. This does not mean suck up to them or become their slave. But it does mean you need to recognize that you are paid to make their job easier, not harder. If you want to assert yourself, that’s fine, but in the end, your boss has the final say and you need to respect that.

Having a reputation as difficult to manage will be the single biggest barrier to getting promoted. Bosses love having someone support them, as being a manager/leader can feel like it’s you versus the world. They often have pressures from above you don’t know about.

3. Ask for more challenging work

Always ask your boss to stretch your comfort zone and prepare you for greater things. Tell your boss you have hopes of moving up and are interested in any extra-ordinary tasks that could help you develop. Tell your boss that all you want from them in exchange for hard work and loyalty is the opportunity and freedom to develop. There’s nothing I like more as a manager than having a new staff member asking me to mold them into a superstar.

4. Self-promote shamelessly

Don’t brag, but don’t be too humble and shy either–no one else can be relied on to talk you up. A great way to do this is send out emails to large portions of the company with regular recommendations or tips (not too frequent as to be annoying though). Every job I’ve had, I’ve found a reason to send out a fortnightly newsletter that provides valuable information for others. It’s probably the best way to get your name out there.

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5. Get a coach

Make sure you take every available opportunity to receive mentoring, particularly from people higher up the chain than you. Listen to what they say, and take their advice. They’re more likely to know what you need than anyone else, but even more importantly, they can steer you away from mistakes that may damage your reputation. And making a good name with higher-ups could really pay out for you!

When I apply for a role, my referees are some of the most senior people in the company, and they can all vouch for me because they’ve coached me personally. I went to them for coaching; I didn’t wait for an offer.

6. Always own your mistakes and take responsibility for fixing any mistakes with your name attached to them

It’s OK to get things wrong as long as you own up immediately with integrity, and offer solutions. Not admitting mistakes or passing the blame might work in politics, but in business, you’ll be seen as someone who doesn’t take responsibility and can’t be relied on to take necessary risks safely. Simply say, “I messed up, but I’ve fixed it by doing x, y and z.” If you’re part of a team that screws up, while everyone else is blaming each other you can say, “The damage is done, let’s just own it and fix it.” Show leaderships skills.

7. Take every development opportunity

Show the company that you’re interested in a range of work, particularly anything that will help the company, even if you don’t get more financial reward. With everyone switching careers every two seconds these days, companies must be craving loyal employees they can mold into ideal leaders.

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THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER DO

1. Send emails or other written communication in the heat of the moment

If you receive an email or phone message that makes you emotional, write a reply and then save it in draft. Come back to it the next day (or at least take as long as you’re allowed to respond). Once you’ve cooled off, ask yourself “How can I respond to this in a way that shows I am un-phased and professional in all situations?”

Better yet, try calling or seeing the sender in person. You’d be amazed at how much easier it is to diffuse conflict when you can involve body language, eye contact and voice tone. Diplomacy and conflict resolution are highly sought after skills.

2. Formally challenge a hiring decision

You missed out on the promotion? Tough. Do not challenge it, because even though this may be an option, ultimately you lose. First, you have questioned the integrity of the hiring panel, so now they hate you. Second, you come across as a poor sport who does not accept feedback, so you’re now seen as litigious and “hard to manage.” Third, you’ve now pissed off and undermined the person who got the job and who may very well be in a position to influence how higher-ups see you. You just can’t win, so even when it’s unfair, suck it up and ask the panel for feedback on what you need to improve for next time.

3. Go over your boss’s head (unless you have a really legitimate complaint)

There are some awful managers out there, and if you suspect you are being held back by one, go to your union or another representative before you back-stab your boss to their superiors. If you do get to the point where you need to escalate something because your boss is being awful, do it openly. Tell them you’re going to do it, that it’s nothing personal, that you’re just trying to look out for your career. But really, most people I see doing this don’t have a legitimate beef and just look like trouble-makers. You’re better off trying to get into another team or something.

4. Try to please everyone

The only people who need to be impressed by you are those who will decide whether or not you get promoted. For a long time (and probably still) I had a reputation among my peers as “The Golden Boy.” They made fun of me behind my back because I was always doing a good job, never challenged the Department’s core values, and was always solving problems that had nothing to do with my role.

Nowadays, it’s my job to tell them how to do their job. I’m even coaching some of them! If I had tried to please them I would have never been promoted. The only person you should try to please is you, but you should also aim to impress those who actually matter to your career goals. Everyone else can either support you or get the hell out of your way, period.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2019

11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

Are you looking to move up the career ladder? Or maybe you’re tired of having a “job” and want to start looking for a more permanent career?

Whatever your motivation, you are going to have to learn some new and different hard skills to broaden your opportunities. After all, there’s a very famous quote that says:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

While the insanity part doesn’t really fit here, the overall message is a good one. If you are looking for a different result (career advancement, more money or even a career instead of a job), it’s up to you to make it happen. This is both the good news and bad news!

The good news is that because it’s up to you, you have complete control over it happening. The bad news is that change is hard. Humans are creatures of habit, that’s why we develop routines, and anything that disrupts that routine causes us anxiety. And we will do almost anything to get rid of that anxiety. The overweight person will calm their anxiety by eating that doughnut, the smoker will light up a cigarette to avoid anxiety.

What we want to do with this article is to give you the hard skills you’ll need to reduce that anxiety so you can move up that corporate ladder, make more money or have career instead of just a “job.”

The following hard skills are essential to learn if you want to advance your career. They may not be easy to take up, but definitely worth your effort of learning:

1. Cloud Computing

“Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence and more—over the Internet “the cloud” to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale. You typically pay only for cloud services you use, helping lower your operating costs, run your infrastructure more efficiently, and scale as your business needs change.” Microsoft[1]

There are many different jobs available in the cloud computing world today. They range from architects and developers to data scientists, security pros. Each job is its own specialty and requires a high level of specification for advancement.

This is definitely a hard skill that requires education. But if the tech world and computers are your thing you can make cloud computing a lucrative career.

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2. Data Mining and Statistical Analysis

Again, these are highly specialized fields. Data mining is defined as using large sets of data to look for anomalies and other patterns that can be used to predict future behavior.

Amazon is probably the best known company to use data mining. Have you ever noticed that when you buy something at Amazon, you’ll see a little ad at the bottom that says “customers who bought this also bought…”and it lists 2-3 other items? All of that information comes from data mining, by examining the millions of sales amazon makes they can predict that if you buy item #1 there is a high likelihood that you will buy one of the other items too. T

his not only increases sales for Amazon, but it also serves as a reminder for you that you may need these additional items for your project. This is very valuable information and has a wide range of uses. Although it has a bad reputation and evil sounding name, it is a very useful tool for maximizing productivity and sales.

3. Data Management

All companies today deal with a ton of data! Being able to manage that data in an efficient manor is not only highly prized, but a necessity.

We all have these things on our desks called computers. Unless there is a need for a paper copy, almost all of our data is computerized. Meaning that, in theory it is all at our fingertips. Being able to organize that data so that it’s easily and quickly retrievable is why computers are replacing filing cabinets!

However, just like the old fashion filing cabinet, data management on a computer is only good if it’s well organized. You want to make sure that you are keeping your data well organized so that it’s easy to find when needed. This is a skill that comes easily to some people (are you a person that makes lists? Good!) but with others it will be a skill that needs to be practices. Make sure that this is a discipline you master.

4. Scheduling

Being able to make and keep to a schedule is a very useful tool in both business and life. Effective scheduling means that you can prioritize projects, understand the tools needed to get the job done on time and that you are organized enough to lead people.

An important point here is to write things down! Whether it’s in an old fashion daily or weekly organizer or in a PDA. Have a copy of your schedule available at your fingertips at all times.

5. Financial Skills

These are especially important when looking for that promotion. The higher up the ladder you go, the more you’ll have to deal with things like accounting, budgeting, financial planning and cash flow management.

While you may not need to be an expert at all of these, you should have a good grasp of all of them. This is where taking a few night classes at your local community college is a good idea. You don’t need to become an expert, but brushing up on these skills will help you tremendously.

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6. Research Skills

These are important in all aspects of life, but especially in your work-life.

Are you looking for that first job out of school? Nothing impresses a boss or hiring manager more than someone who has researched the company. Trust me, they deal with people walking in off the street everyday looking for a job, but managers and owners need to see the value in hiring (or promoting) you.

So do your research and have some company specific questions ready to ask. Show that you are interested in working for that company or that position and not just “a” job or the “promotion” because you have seniority or need the money.

If it’s a promotion that you are after, never bad mouth the previous occupant. Instead pick out an example that he/she was good at and explain how you would like to use or expand that policy and how it would enhance the policy changes you’d like to make.

If it’s a new job you’re going for, then make sure to have some company specific questions ready to show that you have done your homework for the new position.

7. Marketing Skills

While marketing a companies products or services has always been a highly sought after skill. In today’s world, it can take on several different forms.

Some of the marketing skills that are highly sought after today include, SEO, Search Engine Optimization, SEM, Search Engine Marketing and marketing campaign management. Familiarity with Google Analytics as well as Word Press are also valuable.

While traditional marketing and branding were focused on advertising and selling. Almost all marketing efforts now a days are focused on the internet.

8. Network Security Specialist

Again, this is a highly skilled position that requires specialized training. But the amount of data that all companies store is significant, and if that data is leaked or stolen, it can costs them millions of dollars in both lost revenue and lawsuits.

So, if you have an interest in network security you will find the field both lucrative and stable.

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9. Communication Skills

At first glance, communication skills may not look like it fits into the category of “Hard Skills” that can help you succeed. But in this ever shrinking world where companies can do business from almost anywhere, communication is more and more important.

Are you bilingual? It really doesn’t matter what language you speak, there’s a company out there looking for someone who speaks that language.

10. Computer Programming

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that computers are going to be around for a while! As both the hardware and software get more advanced, the need for computer programming is only going to increase.

11. Graphic Design

As of 2018, there were 4.37 million new websites launched.[2] A good number of them will fail because they just aren’t interesting enough visually. The use of templates and replicated websites is only making the problem worse.

Part of the way Google ranks sites is through originality, this almost ensures that replicated sites will never get ranked through Google. So the more original your site is, the more likely people will visit and actually spend time there.

That is what a good graphic designer does. Takes your basic idea and turns it into a website that people actually want to visit.

Embrace the Anxiety That Comes with Change

You know it’s going to be there, you know that you’ll want to give up as you’re learning these new skills but, you’ll also know that the end result is worth the journey.

Here’s a little trick when you’re feeling overwhelmed:

Have you ever met an ex-smoker who was sorry they quit? An ex-drinker or drug user that said life was much better before they quit? These people have gone through some of the most difficult challenges humans can go through including weeks, if not, months of intense physical withdrawal symptoms. They did it because they knew that the pain and anxiety they would experience would ultimately get them to a much better life.

Now what was that complaint you had about attending night-school?

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This is the part everyone hates, everyone thinks night-school, adult education and just generally giving up family and/or spare time. While those are certainly possible ways to develop the necessary skills, they aren’t the only way.

You’ll want to check with your human resources department because depending on the company, a certain degree maybe required in order to even be considered for a position. In those cases, night-school, on-line or some other form of adult education maybe your best route.

But as long as a degree isn’t required, then your options are wide open.

Let’s just say that you’re a sales person interested in becoming the sales manager but, the territory you’ve been given will never produce the sales figures that would make you stand out as a good candidate for sales manager. So how about you start your own side business (don’t compete with your company), but let’s say you enjoy golf.

In this day and age, there are plenty of places that will teach you how to sell products on-line and even set you up with your own website. So you start a site selling golf equipment and accessories (don’t worry, you won’t even have to carry inventory or worry about shipping).

Now, when that sales manager spot opens up, you can explain that even though other salespeople had better numbers than you, it had nothing to do with your sales ability, it was more of a consequence of the territory your were given.

And to prove it, you brought in some information about a side business, you started showing that you’re on target for a sales growth rate of 30% this year. And because you had to do all of the marketing for the business, you came up with some marketing strategies that you can bring to the new job (built-in experience).

The Bottom Line

We’ve put together these 11 hard skills as a way to give yourself a “leg up” on the competition. We’ve tried to make this a mixture of both skills that require a great deal of training, and also ones that you can work on and develop by yourself.

We know that not everyone is cut out to be a cloud computing expert, but we also know that working on and having good scheduling skills will make you a much more desirable candidate for the position!

We also don’t want you to discount the idea of a “side hustle“. Especially for people new to the workforce, having a business that you have started and run successfully shows potential employers that you have initiative, scheduling skills and ambition which can put you well ahead of your competition!

As usual, we hope you found this article both enjoyable and informative. If you did, may we ask that you share it with your family and friends through social media. It really does help us and is greatly appreciated!

More Skill to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Kyle Sterk via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Microsoft Azure: Cloud Computing
[2] Netcraft: December 2018 Web Server Survey

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