We look at what professional career progression is and how to climb the career ladder effectively.
What is Career Progression?
Career progression, quite simply put, is the process of climbing the ladder during your working life. Moving forward, being promoted, finding new challenges, new employers, new opportunities and getting the most out of your career. There are a huge number of aspects and elements that can contribute to successful and efficient career progression and, like most things in life, there are some aspects that we have no control over and that are hard to predict. That said, there are several number of really vital things that we can affect and impact, which can lead to better career progression, promotions in our work and successful career ladder climbing. In this guide, we will explore exactly what these contributing factors are, how we can effectively progress our careers and investigate how we can steer our working life in the right direction. One popular dictionary definition of career progression is ‘the process of making progress to better jobs’ and while some people would consider this to be the case, we define career progression not simply as finding better jobs but as staying in current jobs and roles too, while receiving greater responsibility, satisfaction and success (whatever each individual defines ‘success’ to be). Career progression is not simply about finding a new and ‘better’ job, but it’s also about receiving a pay rise, being given additional responsibilities, moving sideways in a company and can even be the process of leaving a company and starting your venture or company.
How can you improve career progression?
There are a vast number of ways in which an individual can work to improve the efficiency of their career progression and climb the career ladder at a greater rate. Below are a few key ways in which you can do so.
First and foremost, networking is an extremely effective way to help with career progression. We’ve written a guide here about professional networking, the benefits of it, how to network effectively and the best places to network too. Have a read of this to learn more. A big part of career progression is about finding the opportunities, being visible and connecting – and this is all done through professional networking. There are a whole host of ways in which you can network and there are lots of places you can go for professional networking too. The obvious ones include networking receptions, seminars, conferences, trade shows and internally in larger offices.
- Mentoring & Coaching
As well as networking, career progression can be improved upon through mentoring and coaching. A mentor can help you to navigate your way through the challenges of the professional world and give you advice and guidance on certain aspects of your career – such as interview training, industry insights, managerial challenges and a whole host of additional elements too. Coaching is another way in which you can step-up your career progression game. Coaching and mentoring are often closely linked and sometimes confused. We define coaching as more formal and with a greater set structure, while professional mentoring is less formal and more flexible. Both the mentor and mentee should set the expectations and standards for their mentoring partnerships. Whereas, with coaching the coach sets the course, the standards, timings and expectations. Both can be a huge help in effective career progression.
- Training & Development
Upskilling is often attributed to career progression and rightly so. ‘Training and development’ as a term covers a whole host of activities. However, by ‘training and development’ in this instance we are referring primarily to training courses, upskilling and developing new areas of expertise. If there are certain areas in your role, industry or general business insight that you feel are lacking or could be improved upon, then the best way to tackle these is with training. Traditionally, training is thought of as courses but there are lots of different ways to go about this. It could be done through shadowing a colleague who has experience and knowledge that you wish to develop. Or, it could be through e-tutorials and online learning portals. There are several options for training and development and they can all help with career progression. If you’re not sure exactly what you should be doing on the training and upskilling fronts, then the best person to speak with is your manager. Not got a direct manager? Unemployed? Recently graduated? If you fall into one of these categories, look at the industry you are keen to work in and work out which skillsets are important to them. Read through job descriptions and work out which key requirements you don’t feel comfortable with, and then learn them.
- Simply Asking
Another great way in which you can get ahead in your career is simply by asking for it. It sounds like an obvious (perhaps too much so) solution but asking is one of the most effective ways of getting ahead in your career. Speaking with your manager, your HR department and even your company’s directors about how you can progress your career can be a highly efficient way to grow. By asking about career progression, you are showing your employers and those around you that you are keen to improve, keen to develop and keen to climb the ladder. A wise company will only further encourage career development and therefore career progression. Often companies, particularly larger global corporations, offer career development training programmes and schemes but they can be hidden away and only through asking can you learn about them and attend them. So, asking is vitally important and highly recommended!