If you’re a young professional who’s determined, ambitious and eager, it’s highly likely you won’t be satisfied with where you are now forever. This is just the starting point right? You want much much more, but how do you get there?
Standing at the bottom, the career ladder to the top can seem like an overwhelmingly long way up. Here’s a guide to getting ahead from Mike Bonsall of AP Executive, a specialist international recruitment company:
1. Have A Plan
Like all great journeys, you must start with a plan. It can be hard at this stage to add great detail to ‘the plan,’ but it’s your chance to map out your path. If you know where you want to go, it’s going to make it an awful lot easier getting there. Setting a timescale to your plan also provides key performance indicators to measure yourself against. However, it’s the end goal that’s important at this point; the key milestones will be worked out along the way.
2. Get Educated
This doesn’t mean you need the best of University education to get somewhere in life; you don’t. Drop outs such as Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and John Lennon are all proof of this. However, if you do want to reach the top of your career ladder, you need to be educated in your field. Ultimately, you want to be an industry expert. Continuing your professional development is going to get you there. Read trade journals, stay on top of the press, take short courses, or enroll at a University. Do whatever it takes to get to the top of your game.
3. Have Something To Give
Whatever your position in a company, junior, supervisor, or senior manager, make sure you always have something to give. Ideas that will help improve the company are going to help you take a step up that ladder. It doesn’t mean you have to be constantly churning out ground breaking ideas, but improving processes, increasing efficiency, introducing better practices are always going to impress those above.
4. Work Hard
This should go without saying, but if you want to make it to the top of the career ladder, you’re going to have to work for it. Most people who got to where they are, did so with blood sweat and tears, so expect more than a few late nights in the office, assisting at company events, and networking on your weekends. If you are a dedicated professional, your reward will come in the satisfaction as your hard work begins to pay off.
5. Have A Strategy And Goals
No matter how far up the career ladder you are, you should always have a strategy and goals in place. Your strategy can provide you with direction in your current role and ensure you’re moving in the right direct. Your goals, whether daily, weekly, or monthly will help you achieve your strategy. Reviewing these on a regular basis will help you (and others around you) see how far you’ve progressed.
We’ve all heard the saying, ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,’ and when working your way to the top of the career ladder this couldn’t be truer. It’s who you know that’s going to get your foot through the door, and one step up that ladder – that’s why networking is key. Make an effort to get yourself to as many industry events as possible, research who your peers are, and make it your business to know who they are.
7. Keep A Record
Keep a record of your achievements, your work and your progression. Portfolios are excellent for showcasing your work. They can be used as an example to your boss as to why you believe you deserve a promotion, or in an interview to get you the next job on the path to the top.
8. Have A Good Attitude
If you want to make it to the top, your attitude is everything. It’s not going to be easy, in fact, at times it’s going to be unbelievably difficult. If you don’t have the right ‘can do,’ ‘go get them’ attitude, you’re likely to fall at the first hurdle. To make it to the top and be the best, you’re going to have to act like the professional you aspire to be at all times.
9. Take Responsibility
When you are at the top, you will have hundreds of decisions to make and many people you are responsible for. In preparation for the top of the ladder, make sure, even as a junior you take on full responsibility for your actions. This will impress those around you, as they’ll see that you’re not afraid to tackle issues by yourself.
If you can’t communicate you vision and your goals to your leaders, they’re not going to know what you want or how fantastic you are. To make it to the top of your game, you need to communicate clearly, it doesn’t matter if you’re shy; the loudest people often aren’t the best communicators. You just need to be able to clearly state what you want to achieve and put your plan in to action.
11. Be A Leader
If you want to be at the top, you have to be prepared to lead. There’s no point in having hundreds of great ideas and a mind blowing strategy if you’re too scared to take the troops forward. You have to want to lead, to delegate where required and make the all-important decisions that could be fatal. You have to be the brave one at the front.
When you break the career ladder down, step by step, it doesn’t seem that daunting does it. Go get them.
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