The Basics of Career Advancement

-- written by Geoffrey Moss

If your company is taken over tomorrow and you are made redundant, are you confident you can find a new job with a good salary? How do you rate in the employability stakes?

In today's working climate, people must take responsibility for their own careers and plan for their advancement to senior jobs. Take-over bids mean there are fewer top jobs available in an organisation and more competition for them. People are often reaching the highest level available in their organisation at relatively young ages and want to move to greater challenges. Many have limited time contracts and are constantly looking for other opportunities.

If you find yourself looking for a new job, how would you fare? Your main asset should be your employability-not only your expertise but your ability to move between organisations; your ability to work with new teams; your ability to embrace new technology; and your flexibility.

It is important to keep up with new developments in technology and business or you may be left behind and be unemployable.

Organisations look for achievers, with a proven track record; skilled team-builders and leaders; people who can delegate; people with good human relations skills; good communicators; innovators in all areas of business; people with a high degree of computer-literacy; workers with skills in the new technologies; people who can make the hard decisions; people who are cost-conscious; and enthusiasts for quality and client satisfaction.

How do you rate with these skills? Would you be the person they decide to employ?

Prepare for your career advancement. Success doesn't just happen-you have to work at it. If you are ambitious and want to advance in your career you must:

  • Believe in yourself and see yourself as a winner. Accept leadership roles in outside organisations to help build your confidence
  • Get to know the corporate culture and the politics of the organisation.Attend meetings, training programmes and socialise with staff
  • Be prepared to make firm decisions, even if some are unpopular

As soon as you have the facts, don't procrastinate-make fast decisions. Use talented people with the strengths to help you overcome your weaknesses. We cannot be good at all things so team up with people with different outlooks and skills. Find a mentor who can advise you on your career and act as a confidant in times of uncertainty and stress. Many top managers owe their success to listening to the advice of experienced people. Learn to ask basic questions and make a special effort to become a good listener and be prepared to take advice and counselling.

Get honest feedback and evaluate your performance continually. Be appreciative of people who speak their mind and tell you the truth. Don't make excuses even when the truth hurts.

Keep learning new skills and updating others. Experiment with new ways to manage and do things. We learn best by trial and error. Don't be afraid of mistakes but be objective about your successes and failures. Be seen as a loyal, forward-looking employee. Promote and support the organisation that supports you.

Build strong teams and give them your full support. When they are set up don't interfere unless they ask for help. As a manager your main role will be to coordinate teams.

Lead from the front. Be a good role model. Innovate and experiment with new approaches to work. Think beyond the square. Make the most of all the brains you have within your business and all the brains you can borrow. Maintain high ethical standards. Unless you set high standards you cannot expect your staff to follow. Continually improve quality standards while maintaining high outputs. Quality can always be improved if you run an open business and keep asking: "How can we do things better?"

Become a good communicator and a competent chairperson. Unless you are skilled at getting your ideas across you will never be a successful manager.

Build good relationships and alliances in the business and the political worlds. Who you know is often more important than what you know! Join professional societies and network with people in similar jobs. Professional societies set standards and help you network and organise training programmes. Make the most of every opportunity to develop your professionalism.

Plan and enjoy periods of leisure. Make time to enjoy with your family and friends. Take holidays and charge your battery so you return to work refreshed with new ideas.