Career Advancement Advice: Fact or Fiction?
Posted on Mar 10, 2020
When it comes to the best way to advance your career, there’s a lot of advice out there. Family members, mentors, coworkers, and industry leaders all have different tips to share with you. How do you know what will work for your career? The first step is taking a closer look at common advice and figuring out what’s fact and what’s fiction.
This career advancement advice is FACT and worth paying attention to:
- Education helps you move up at work. Almost half of all employed adults (45%) opt to invest in continued education to advance their careers. Going back to school develops your leadership skills, refines your hard skills, grows your network, and gives you the professional confidence you need to go after more senior roles. In addition to your personal gains, it bolsters employers’ views of you. Employers view employees who go back to school more favorably for advancement because it indicates that the employee takes ownership of their goals, is willing to work hard for those goals, and is a lifelong learner.
- Be a team player. When trying to advance, it can be easy to want to stand apart from your team. This is the exact opposite of what you should do. A study at Stanford University that examined the career paths of thousands of executives found two qualities predicted getting promoted to higher responsibility: functioning well in a crisis and being a good team member. In fact, being a good team player was identified as the primary quality that executives looked for and rewarded.
- Networking is critical. Whether you’re advancing within the same company or looking for opportunities elsewhere, networking gives you a leg up. The more people you meet, the more knowledge you’ll have of job requirements and potential openings. If you’re looking to advance at your current company, your connections can still help by providing a knowledgeable sounding board to discuss new positions or point you in the right direction for additional learning.
- Career planning helps. Think of your career plan as your advancement roadmap. Career planning helps you think through where you want to go in your career and how you want to get there. Revisiting it at least every two years will help you assess whether or not you’re advancing as expected and what you might need to do about it. If you don’t have a career plan now, here’s where to start.
- Staying optimistic is important. Top business executives and psychologists agree that having an optimistic attitude leads to success. This is because optimistic people are more likely to work harder to achieve their goals and advance. When optimistic people encounter challenges on their path to success, they’re more likely to view these challenges as an opportunity for learning and growth rather than a setback.
This career advancement advice is FICTION and should be ignored:
- Stay put where you are. In the not-so-distant past, it was common to work for one company your entire life as you slowly climbed the ladder. Now, there’s no reason you need to work for multiple years at the same company to advance. If you keep getting passed up for a promotion whether it’s due to lack of budget, opportunity, or other reasons, you should consider looking for a role the next level up elsewhere.
- Risk is unnecessary. The right opportunities for advancement aren’t going to fall into your lap. You’ll need to advance yourself by taking calculated risks like going back to school when you want new skills, pivoting to a new industry when your current one isn’t quite right, or taking on the next big assignment to help prove your worth. The key is to make sure all your risks are calculated and well-thought-out. For instance, if you want to start your own company, make sure you test the waters first by starting small with freelancing or a side gig.
- Your next job should check all your boxes. When your job ceases to offer you opportunities for learning and growth, it may be time to leave and look for something else. As long as the next position you’re moving into offers a learning opportunity and more of what you want, you’re moving in the right direction.Don’t get hung up on finding a perfect fit as much as making sure every step you take ladders up to your ultimate goal in your career plan.
- Only apply for jobs if you match all the qualifications. You don’t need to be a perfect match when you’re applying for a job at the next level. The ideal next role for you is one where you know you’ll be able to succeed, but you’ll still have room to advance even further. Men tend to take this to heart and apply for jobs when they meet only 60 percent of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100 percent of them. Simply put, if you know you can take on more responsibility, go for it.
At the end of the day, knowing exactly what will work to advance your career can be a challenging question to answer. But with some determination, optimism, and a plan, you’ll be advancing in no time.