Movin' on Up: Strategies for Securing Growth Opportunities At Work
You're going to be in your current job for the rest of your life. Does that sentence excite you or scare you? If it excites you, great — you may not need to read this article.
But if it scares you, good! That means you either hate your job (and should quit) or that you have higher goals. All jobs are growth opportunities that can help you get where you want to go.
Want to stay within the same company or at least work towards a promotion? Read for our tips on how to take on more and get more challenges below.
Say No to More Things
It sounds counterintuitive to say no to things if you're trying to advance at work. But we're not telling you to say no to everything. Just say no to the things you truly don't want to do (that you have a choice in) and things you don't have time to do.
Unless you're the first human ever to create an extra hour in the day, putting more than you can handle on your plate is a bad idea. It means that you're going to rush through something to get everything done.
And you know what happens when you rush? You don't do a great job.
In fact, you may do a mediocre job on everything you try to do that day since you're that rushed.
When your boss is looking for someone to promote or even just recognize, they're looking for someone that delivers consistent quality work.
If you want to be that person, don't put yourself in the position where "something's gotta give" to quote the famous song.
When you're not inundated with things you don't want or truly need to be doing, you'll be able to take on the right challenge when the time and opportunity actually comes.
And you'll be able to give it your full heart and effort.
Offer to Work Across Departments
When something comes up that's a multi-department project, those are the kind of things you want to take advantage of. Even if it's just an email that says that blank department needs some extra help while they do this or that for an hour tomorrow.
Volunteering will show you take initiative and it's a chance to make friends and influence people ... to your side. The more people in the company that can stick up for you and vouch for your value, the better.
Plus, you never know where you'll find a friend or a new passion. And when you learn a new skill, you become more valuable to your employer. If someone doesn't show up in that department, you can fill in.
Ask Yourself if This Opportunity is a Stepping Stone
Sometimes you get the opportunity to work on projects at work that you don't really love. And that's all fine if it's going to lead to something bigger.
But other times, you can get the opportunity to work on projects that sound great, but they're not going to help you move forward in your career.
It's okay to have some passion projects or to say yes to something because you enjoy it, but you can't do it all the time.
When you're presented with an opportunity, ask yourself what doors it'll open. Does it give new skills? New contacts? How will it serve you in the future?
Taking 30 seconds to ask yourself these questions will save you from taking on too much work, even if it's work you love.
Have a Strategy
On the same note as the last point, you need to know where you want to go in your job. What's your endgame? If you wanted to keep the job you're in now, forever, you wouldn't be reading this article.
So what is the next position you'd like, even if you think it's currently impossible? How do you work to make that position possible or what positions do you need to get to work up to it?
Some people say that working up the ladder in a company is an old practice, but we disagree. You simply have to be more aggressive and verbal about it now, in this age of skilled workers.
Literally, draw out a map for yourself and figure out how you're going to get where you need to go. If things change, change your map.
Finally, you'll need to be verbal about what you want. No one can or will try to read your mind. When you have things like reviews or evaluations with your higher-ups, let them know (in context) that you're working towards something.
Ask them what you'd need to do to get there, at least in a general sense. They may not bite on this question, because it sounds a little bit like they're kicking the person in that position out.
So word it like, if a person were to move on or up in the company, what steps would I need to take to work in their current position?
That shows that you have goals, but that you're not planning to sabotage that person.
Work for a WHY Not a What
What keeps you at work every day? Other than the fact that you need money to pay your bills and finding another one is a hassle.
Unless you're completely disconnected from the job you're working in, there's some sort of passion or drive behind why you do what you do. Maybe you're passionate about expanding a certain type of access to an underserved population.
Bring that into your work more, try to come from a place of wanting to help, instead of needing to do. You have no idea how that mindset change can completely change the quality and purpose of your work.
Finding Growth Opportunities
The key to finding the right growth opportunities is to know which ones are right for you. And to do that you need to know your goals, your likes, and the reasons you do the things you're paid to do.
If you do that and keep your eyes/ears open for new challenges, you'll be on your way up the next rung of the ladder in no time.
Decided that you want to grow in a different job? Take a look at our career profiles here.