Career Advancement – What Does It Take?

Thoughts of career advancement might have flickered in your brain at the start of the year (when you were considering possible new year’s resolutions), but life happens. Have you given any thought recently to where you stand in regard to your career advancement prospects?

First let me back up a bit and ask, “What does career advancement mean to you?” If you haven’t figured that out yet, this would be a good time to think about it. I believe every serious career-minded individual needs a career management planPlan Your Career on an organization chart to illustrate the importance of envisioning your goal or mission in a job, targeting promotion opportunities and chance for advancement, and that plan should take into consideration what advancement looks like in your eyes. It’s hard to plan if you’re missing key pieces of the puzzle; that is, haven’t defined critical aspects.

Career Advancement – Up, Down or Sideways?

Recently I published a post about lateral moves. Not all advancement has to be upward-oriented. Of course, “down” isn’t a direction normally associated with advancement, but if you’re at the point where stepping back (down a rung on the ladder) seems attractive, it could be part of your plan (“advancing” in the direction you want to go).

So what is advancement, generally speaking? Merriam-Webster offers three definitions:

  1. The act of moving forward
  2. The act or result of making something better, more successful, etc.
  3. The act of being raised to a higher rank or position

Depositphotos_36864547_m-2015The third definition is what probably occurs to most people when they think of career advancement; however, the other two could also offer useful ideas. For example, you could “move forward” in your career or make it better or more successful without necessarily moving up in the organization.

How this plays out obviously depends on factors outside you that you might or might not be able to control. However, if you have a vision of your career success that doesn’t necessarily require moving up the career path ladder, you can certainly plan and execute actions that will provide the potential for advancement in other ways.

What might those ways be?

For example, you might evaluate your situation as it is now–including changes that have taken place over the years–and decide that something you now do only a little of is something you’d love to do much more. If that would require additional effort on your part, such as completing a specialized educational program, Promotion Advancement Opprotunity Man Lifting Career Arrowyou can build that requirement into your career management plan and attach a realistic time-frame to it.

What if Career Advancement Does Mean Moving Up?

If you decide that you need to move up in order to advance in your career, you obviously have some decisions to make. Here are just a few of the questions you might want to ask yourself:

  • What are the potential opportunities in my chosen career path? Does it lend itself to attaining higher-level positions?
  • Is the climate in my current company supportive of my career growth? Does the company have a progression plan in place?
  • Are there limits to what I can do that might affect my prospects for advancement? For example, if extensive travel would be required, is that do-able in terms of my personal situation?
  • Have I done everything I realistically can to prepare myself for possible promotion? If not, what should I do next?

As I often say, you are ultimately the one who will need to decide what does or doesn’t belong in your career advancement plans. What’s most important is that you think it through before you take potentially irrevocable steps.

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