You’re more likely to successfully climb the corporate ladder and break a glass ceiling with a thoughtful, long-term career plan. Reaching your more ambitious career goals can take years, and starts with actions you take this year and next. Include short-term professional-development goals to create building blocks for your future advancement. Looking at where you want to be a few months or a year from now and what it will take to get there can help you set attainable goals and reach them.
Your long-term job prospects with future employers will improve if you can show you advanced at your previous jobs, so take a simple step now to increase your chance for a promotion. Jobs without written descriptions often don’t get noticed or even come with annual reviews, decreasing your chances for advancement. If you don’t have a written job description, write a thoughtful, detailed job description for your position. Meet with your supervisor and discuss the topic, asking for input on what she thinks your role entails and how it relates to the position above you. Ask if you can prepare a job description for her approval, then submit it when you’re finished and get it approved.
When your big break comes, make sure you’re ready for it. Identify the next job you want now and find a written job description for it, if possible. Research what skills and experience you’ll need and take steps to get those. Earn certification or begin taking courses so you can demonstrate you have added knowledge recognized by official entities in your organization. Look into night school classes, workshops and seminars. Your company might even pay for your education and you’ll stay on management’s radar as you grow. These are steps you can take now that will pay off for years to come.
Enhance your resume and improve your stature within your profession by joining an association and getting involved. Serve on a committee, write articles for the association’s newsletter, attend networking events and go to the annual meeting to get noticed by your peers and build your career network. Volunteer at nonprofit organizations if you’ll gain experience beyond what you’re doing at your job. For example, many nonprofits need help with marketing, promotions, website work, newsletters, sponsorships, events and bookkeeping. You can get hands-on experience for your resume or a title you can’t get at your current job.
Many jobs require knowledge of some type of technology, including software skills and equipment use. Look at the future jobs you want to hold and learn what technology those positions require. If you want to climb the ladder in advertising, promotions and public relations, learn as much as you can about social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest and LinkedIn. If you’re in finance, learning small-business software programs that aren’t helpful at your current, larger employer might help you land gigs at small businesses where you can be a big fish in a small pond.
Just because you know your company’s product or how to do your job better than anyone else in your department does not mean you’ll get the next promotion. Businesses often hire managers by promoting internal candidates who have the best combination of people skills, organizational abilities and product knowledge. Improve your supervisory skills this year by taking workshops or seminars covering time management, business communications, customer service, leadership and people skills. The sooner you read professional self-help books, the sooner you'll be able to start using these skills in your work and demonstrating to management you're qualified to take on more responsibilities and lead others.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.