There are many phases to a career. It can be thought of like a beginning, middle and end. In the beginning an individual experiences almost all new learning, skill development and obtaining industry knowledge. The middle (as well as the end) of a person’s career can be a comfortable place to be – for a while. At this point, you may know your industry, have gained skills to do your job well, and have moved up in title and responsibility a few times. However, maybe you have a feeling of being stagnant, or as the famous song says “Is that all there is?” You strive for an executive position or a promotion, but it just doesn’t seem to be happening for you. Are you at that point in your career where you are ready to move on to new challenges, changes that will provide learning and developing new skills?
One of the first things that needs to be done is a Career Audit. This enables you to identify past goals and accomplishments and ask yourself “Am I happy with the end result?”
Next, whether you are considering an external move (outside your current company and/or industry) or an internal move (to a different department or business unit within the same company) you need to create a plan.
1. Put together a list of your skills and talents that are needed for the new job/career/industry. Also , list what you don’t have so you get a more realistic picture of what you need to put in place to make this transition. Examine potential limitations:
a. Do you need more industry knowledge?
b. Do you need to develop different skills or enhance current level of skills?
c. Do you need to obtain higher management responsibilities, leadership of teams, etc.?
2. Focus on what you know and what you are known for. If you don’t know your strengths, how do you expect others to? You don’t want to be your own best secret.
a. Use performance reviews to help you document successes that position you as a good match to a new position
b. Create a special report that outlines several company challenges and sets you up as a solution to those problems.
c. Build your brand and live it! Your title may be VP of Marketing, but you could create a brand image that says you are a “creative genius”.
3. Communicate with executive level management, and build rapport and relationship. People like to work with people they know, respect and are easy to work with. Establish yourself as that person.
a. Convey that you are part of the team and have value to the organization as a member of that team.
b. Show dedication to the project or tasks.
c. Act the part – as if you already have the promotion. You need to speak and act with confidence.
4. Understand the big picture – where the company / products / services / department / business unit is headed and compare goals. Is the paper mill closing and the manufacturing plant being retro-fitted for another product or is the company closing the doors in a few years? Would you be a good fit for the company, save it from disaster or help it phase out?
5. Consider what kind of problems the organization may be facing, such as location in the country or world. The company may have to relocate their offices or headquarters to a different state or country to be more efficient or cost effective. Is this a move you are willing to make?
As an executive, you will want to take advantage of every opportunity to be prepared for a promotion, should it be offered. The issues mentioned here only touch the surface. Start putting your plan into place now to be ready for that promotion tomorrow.