When you think about your career, where do you want to be in five years?
Chances are, you didn’t say, “I want to be right where I am.” You’re reading this article, after all. If you have any ambition (and that’s a good thing), you think about advancing your career. You have goals for yourself. You know what you dream of doing. But getting from Point A (your current role) to Point B (your dream job) may be a little less clear.
The good news is that you can influence where your career takes you. You don’t have to stay where you are forever (unless it’s your dream job!). Here are several actions you can take to give yourself the best opportunity to take that next step on the career ladder.
- Do excellent work.
Right now. Where you are. If you are just doing the bare minimum, don’t expect your supervisors to reward you with a promotion. Go the extra mile to make your work stand out. Get it done on time—or even early. Don’t be sloppy or haphazard. You know the difference between doing your job and doing your job with excellence. And your boss knows the difference, too.
- Solve problems.
When you see something that’s broken, don’t go to your boss and tell them about it. Your supervisor may be in the middle of putting out another fire, and your observation just gave them another problem to deal with. Not the best way to get on your boss’ best side.
Instead, when you see a problem, find a solution first and (if you have the authority) fix it yourself. Even if it’s “not your job.” Even if it’s not in your job description. Then tell your supervisor the situation and how you resolved the issue. This shows both initiative and ownership.
- Keep learning.
You were hired for your knowledge, experience and skill set in a particular field. That doesn’t mean you can’t expand on what you know. Stretch yourself. Think of an aspect of your business that interests you, even if it’s not connected at all to your current job description. Learn about it. Take a class. Teach yourself. Ask questions. Observe how others work. Watch videos online.
If your company encourages continuing education, find conferences and other learning opportunities and request to attend. When you return, offer to share with other team members the best practices you learned. If you’re constantly learning and growing, you become more desirable for new projects and job positions.
- Chase ideas.
At Ramsey Solutions where I work, one of our core values is having a self-employed mentality. That means we all have a stake in the success of the company. That mindset also gives us permission to think outside the box and chase new ideas for how to reach our audience and how to serve them better. Recently, we announced that The Dave Ramsey Show would stream live on YouTube, giving people another way to interact with our company.
Take this self-employed attitude to your job. Don’t assume that the workflow is the most time-efficient or that the technology is the most useful. If you have an idea, explore it. Read more. Talk to people. Do research. Ask yourself the same questions your supervisor would if you were to take this idea to them. Once you’re reasonably sure it could be successful, take the idea to your boss with an organized, detailed plan.
- Volunteer to do extra.
One of the mistakes many team members make is to look like they’re overworked and stressed-out. The intent is to show the boss that they’re working hard and have so many responsibilities that they add value to the team. Can I tell you something? That’s not what your boss is thinking. They’re thinking you can’t get organized and don’t work efficiently.
To put yourself in a better light with supervisors, volunteer for extra projects. If you think you might have something to contribute, offer to help. That means you’re willing to go the extra mile for your team, especially if it’s not related to your current job. And help out with company-wide projects. That puts your name and face in front of VIPs in your company.
- Be a professional.
How you present yourself can raise (or lower) your boss’ opinion of you. I’m not just talking about outward appearance, although that is a factor. I’m talking about your behavior. Don’t gossip. Ever. Always pass complaints up to your boss (and compliments all around). In fact, we have a no-gossip policy at Ramsey Solutions, and we take it seriously. It’s one of our core values. Nothing good comes from flapping your gums to someone who can do nothing about it.
On a related note, stay away from office politics. You know what I’m talking about! Some businesses are a minefield of politics. Don’t talk to this person. Get on the good side of that person. Make sure so-and-so knows your name. It’s maddening. It’s unproductive. And being smack in the middle of it could be the reason you’re looked over for a promotion.
And a note about dress: I know that many businesses have adopted a more relaxed dress code (we can wear jeans and T-shirts). However, just because you don’t have to wear a suit doesn’t mean you can fall out of bed, put on a wrinkled shirt and a ratty pair of jeans, and roll in looking like a college student who overslept.
In the end, the best way to move forward in your career is to work hard. Complete tasks with excellence. Do what’s expected—and more. Find ways to contribute to projects. If you become the go-to person for remarkable work, you’ll find your career going to remarkable places.
What steps are you taking in your career to get a promotion? Let us know in the comments!