As a coach and mentor, I am often asked how one can advance their career. While I am a huge supporter of education, going back to school is not always the answer. Sometimes, the best way to learn a new skill to advance your career or simply move up within the company are out of the box solutions.
Volunteer in roles different from your job. No matter how many hats you wear, your current position can limit your ability to show off and/or develop new skills. Rather than focusing on getting all your work experience through a paying job, volunteer. One of the best ways, and easiest, to broaden your skills and experience is to volunteer. On your resume, list your volunteer experience just as you would work experience. List three to five bullet points showing the impact you made in that role. Be sure to talk about these experiences in your cover letter and interview.
Take webinars, seminars, read, and listen to podcasts. Traditional education is amazing and extremely valuable. But it is also time consuming and expensive. Depending on the skill you want to learn and where you are in life, these may be better ways to expand your knowledge.
Teach. You never really know something until you teach it. This is so true. I was a great grant writer before I decided to teach grant writing. Once I started teaching, I became an excellent grant writer. I had to understand grant writing well enough to explain it to others, which taught me a lot of nuances I had missed.
Ask your employer for additional responsibilities. One of the best ways to advance is to show, not tell, your employer about your skills. Schedule a meeting with them, and present additional responsibilities you would like to take on. Set a timeline for this project, and set a meeting to check in with them at the halfway point and end. Not only will your employer be impressed with your initiative, but you will be able to give them concrete evidence of what you are capable of.
Speak up. In meetings, with your leader, speak up. Stop being the quiet one. Start making it a point to contribute. You have great ideas. Share them.
Don’t share your ideas with co-workers. People love to rain on other people’s parades and to steal their ideas. Speak up in meetings, but don’t share your ideas beforehand.
Look at who you are hanging out with. My grandmother always told me I was judged by the company I kept. This is so true. One of the best ways to spruce up your professional image is to choose who you spend time at work with carefully. Strive to be everyone’s friend, be pleasant, but don’t get caught up in the drama.
Advancing your career is as simple as you believing in yourself, creating a plan, and implementing it. Remember, sometimes you need to change employers in order to move up. Your loyalty is to you and your career. Never be a sell out, but never compromise your dreams either.