It’s a difficult time to explore climbing career ladder, but there are still opportunities available for people who feel ready to move up. Laying the ground work, doing your research and developing a plan can help to keep your career on an upwards trajectory.
Be clear about what you want and work towards it
If you feel that you’re not being stretched in your current role and are ready to move on, identify what role you’re looking for. Look at the skills and behaviours that are required for that role and see where they overlap with what you’re already doing. Talk to your line manager about your career aspirations, ask them for feedback and any development they feel you need to undertake. Sometimes it’s worth getting a mentor in a different role so you can learn from their experiences. Have an end point in mind and make your way towards it, but don’t think any further ahead than two senior positions or steps up at any one time. Find out what renowned professional qualifications there are within your profession and look into completing them – your employer may even fund you or allow day release if you commit to staying with them. Consider CIPD if you work in HR, ACA for accountancy, Lean Six Sigma for projects – find out what’s the most respected qualification in your field and if it’s possible for you to take it on.
Identify the opportunity and make your case
It’s important to remember that employers don’t just promote someone because they’re doing a good job; they promote people to vacancies created by somebody leaving, or because there’s a change in delivery or scope caused by growth or acquisition. Do your homework and identify the need for the role you want. You can’t create something that isn’t there, so if there’s no budget, a lack of roles and a flat organisational structure, then the only way you can overcome them is by looking elsewhere.
Once you’ve identified the role, you need to make your case as to why you should be in it. Needing more money may be a perfectly valid reason for wanting a promotion, but it’s not going to get you one. You need provide justification to your employer, such as your job changing significantly and involving more scope or responsibility. Ask your manager for a career development conversation and ask them if they think you’re ready for promotion. Some employers only make promotions once or twice a year so if that’s the case you need to find out when that is and make enquires at the right time. One organisation I work with puts promotions through in June and December, and I’m coaching someone who didn’t get promoted in June but is having coaching to help her be ready by December. Also find out when your organisation plans its budget for the next financial year – it’s always best to ask before that’s defined so any potential move can be taken into account.
The type of person who gets promoted is very dependent on the type of role which needs to be filled – is it a subject matter role, or leadership or managerial? If it’s subject matter, then you need to develop your knowledge in that subject and taken on extra training or qualifications. If it’s managerial, employers are looking for people who demonstrate leadership behaviours, influencing skills and stakeholder management. There isn’t a particular type of worker who gets promoted, it’s people who show potential, demonstrate significant capability and are clearly ready to move up to the next level.
Be transparent about your career ambitions. Gain self-awareness through feedback and regular performance conversations. Demonstrate a growth mindset, develop resilience and agility, learn constantly and never stop developing yourself.