Once upon a time, there was only one sure-fire way to succeed in your career — climbing the ladder until you’ve reached the top. Today, this is just one of the many trajectories towards career development. As the career professionals at the University of Sydney have explained, career progression is now multi-dimensional, and you are squarely in the driver’s seat. As you personally change with time and experience, your careers goals and needs likewise evolve. It is essential to take the time to re-evaluate your present situation; re-considering what your goals are and whether you’re moving towards them, and what different options are currently available to you. To succeed, it is vital to choose which path towards career development works for you.
Side-Steps and Downshifts
This option for career-progression is severely overlooked. The best way to set yourself up for long-term success isn’t always by taking a step upwards. Taking a step to the side into a different facet of your business, without increasing the seniority of your role, can be an ideal way to expand your knowledge and skillset. This is an excellent option if you’re self-evaluation has identified specific talents you’re currently lacking which could be of great benefit to you in the long run.
Similarly, it can sometimes be incredibly worthwhile to take a step down and follow your interest in an entirely different field. Even if you’re entering into a junior level role, you’ll develop knowledge and skills complementary to your own, making you immensely more employable in the future. This experience will give your resumé a unique edge, often benefiting your aspiring industry in surprising ways. Equally, it will allow you to build a network of connections unlike those of other employees in your field, enabling you to bring something entirely different to the table.
Climbing The Ladder
This well-known structure of progression is still of benefit to many individuals. If you feel that your expertise now expands beyond the scope of your current role, a step-up is always achievable! This may be found within or outside your current organisation. Speak to people working at the level you want to achieve. Learn what skills, knowledge and expertise you may need to thrive in this position and make it your priority to acquire these things. Make a conscious attempt to evaluate the role of your desired position and the milestones you may need to achieve to get there.
We tend to link the idea with progression with that of radical change, when, a lot of the time, that isn’t the case. You may be able to sky-rocket your career by merely staying where you are. This is a great option for people who currently enjoy where they are working or their current position, but want to expand the scope of their role. This may mean learning/mastering a particular skill, applying your existing skills to a broader scope, or putting more weight on select responsibilities. First, it’s essential to conduct as self-evaluation and work out exactly which of these goals you are trying to achieve. From there, you can work out how to put these goals into action. Talk to your manager about your goals and see if they can help you interpret these new skills into your current work. Alternatively, you may find you can work towards these on your own — by taking an online course or reading relevant blog material. Finding yourself a mentor, whether from inside or outside of your current organisation, can be a source of inspiration.
Shake It Up!
No matter how much time you’ve invested in your current industry, you may find that, as you’ve evolved as a person, so to have your career goals. It’s never too late to shake things up entirely. The spectrum for career change is now much broader than in the past. While it may begin with a momentary step back, the end result will almost certainly be worth this shift.
Your current employment
experience and skills may be of benefit to the new vocation you are pursuing. If not, there are many ways to gain additional training and opportunities in different areas; you may be able to do this from the comfort of your current position! Make sure you conduct research into the new industry to ensure that it matches your professional and personal goals. This can be done by speaking to people within the industry or even dipping your toe into the industry through volunteer positions. You can develop a transitional plan with the help of many career professionals. Consider how this change will impact all areas of your life, and consider the holistic benefit of the shift.
At the end of the day, we all need to ask ourselves, “What does success look like to me?” Most of us will find that it differs significantly from the traditional model we’ve grown up believing to be ‘the only way.’ As career pathways become increasingly more flexible, it’s time to take advantage of the various opportunities available to us; achieving not only our desired end goal but also our desired pathway there.