Climbing the corporate ladder. Getting ahead. Working up the ranks. All of these terms refer to what human resources professionals call job progression. Simply stated, it means that as you gain experience in your field you should earn more challenging projects and responsibilities. The downside? It's more work for you. But the upside -- better title, higher pay and increased prestige -- is essential for building a successful career.
When the Title Doesn't Match the Work
Job progression means more than getting a fancy new title, however. Chances are, when you earn a promotion, you've already been doing the work of someone higher up the food chain. If you're angling for a better title -- and the salary that goes with it -- you'll need to first increase your workload and level of expertise at your current job. Approach your supervisor and ask for greater responsibility or offer your assistance on a key initiative.
Defining Job Progression for Your Employees
If you are already in charge and have been tasked with developing a defined career path for your employees, get cracking. Human Capital magazine reports that a 2012 Australian study found that two-thirds of finance professionals felt frustrated enough to look for new employment when their employers didn't do enough to define job progression. Long story short? Employees who work hard -- and regularly perform beyond their pay grades -- want official recognition. And the best way to demonstrate that you appreciate their commitment is by developing structured career goals for each title.
A Sample Career Progression Path
Even a job that seems like a dead end might offer an opportunity to progress in ways you never thought possible. For example, a waitress in a chain restaurant might express her desire to become an assistant manager. She then might aspire to become manager and then a regional manager. Alternatively, a corporate employee might speak with human resources about its tuition reimbursement policy. Earning an MBA, for example, might lead to job progression in areas all across the company, not just in the department in which she currently works.
Applying for a New Job
If you decide to take your career path elsewhere, adapt your resume so it reflects your responsibilities accurately. Chances are you earned additional tasks as you gained experience on the job. Even if your title didn't change, note the progression of tasks clearly so hiring managers can identify your valuable talents. This will demonstrate your importance to your current organization, and it will show that you are capable of learning new tasks and working as a team player.
Lisa Bigelow is an independent writer with prior professional experience in the finance and fitness industries. She also writes a well-regarded political commentary column published in Fairfield, New Haven and Westchester counties in the New York City metro area.