Career Development

Where do you want your job to take you in 2017?

By David Cox, SPHR, SHRM-SCP | January 05, 2017

The essence of a career is the opportunity to advance. If you have been working in a job for several years and have not advanced beyond your current level during this period, it could be an organizational issue. You may work for a family business in which most of those receiving significant promotions are family members. You may work for a company with few enough employees that there is simply no realistic opportunity for advancement.

In most cases, the reason an employee does not advance has more to do with the employee than the company. As such, the employee must take initiative to address their own deficiencies to advance or become very satisfied in the same job indefinitely. Consider the following actions you can take right now to begin your quest for advancement:

  • Think about what you want from your career. If you’re just starting out, figure out what you like about your work and what you would rather be doing some day. Imagine where you’d like to see yourself in 2 years, 5 years, and 10 years. If you’ve been working for a while, reassess your career plans. Is this where you expected to be by now? If not, why haven’t you progressed to the level you wanted to achieve? What’s holding you back?
  • Learn new skills. New skills will often help you get on track for advancement. To get ahead in your career, you need to constantly learn new things to prepare you for the next step. Ask your supervisor how you can broaden your skills. Volunteer for jobs that will expand your work experience and give you the background to advance.
  • Find a mentor. Look for someone in the organization who knows the job you want. Ask that person for advice and guidance about what steps you need to take to advance.
  • Discover all you can about the organization. Get to know people in other departments; find out what they do and how their jobs interact with yours and others throughout the organization. The more you learn about what the company does, how it does it, and why, the more promotable you’ll become.
  • Volunteer for special projects, teams, and committees. Getting involved in special projects with cross-departmental teams and committees is a good way to get to know people throughout the company. It’s also an excellent opportunity for others—especially people in the area where you want to work—to get to know you and see what you can do.
  • Become the “go to” person for solutions and new ideas. Establish yourself as a problem solver and a resource for creative new ways to increase productivity, improve quality, and generally expand the effectiveness of your department and the company. Welcome change, and always be alert to the possibility that there’s a better way to do things.
  • Improve your effectiveness in your current job. Even while you’re looking for opportunities for advancement, keep turning in a superior performance in the job you hold now. Don’t focus all your energy on tomorrow at the expense of doing a good job today.

If you want your job to be more than just a job, if you want to get ahead and earn promotions and more money, then you must think of your work in a broader perspective. You need to think about it as a career — one in which you have the power to grow and develop.