When I landed my first job out of college, I was excited that I could do something that I enjoy doing. Before this, my summer jobs were whatever I could find to help me pay for college, which in most cases meant working in hot factory-type jobs. The only thing that helped me through those hot summers was the thought of me leaving the job in 3 short months.
But once I landed my new “career job”, things were all roses. I was expecting much more from my job, mainly a much higher salary. I was disappointed that I wasn’t making as much as I thought I could be. I talked things over with my Dad, since he was at his current job for close to 40 years. He started as a person on the assembly line in the factory and moved his way up to a departmental vice president. The advice he gave me helped with grow and progress not only in that first job, but in all of my jobs since.
Find a Mentor
If you want to grow in a job, you need to find someone there that is successful. But just as important is finding a successful person that embodies characteristics that are positive. We all know the successful person that isn’t the most ethical one of the group. This is not an ideal mentor. The ideal mentor is the person that you truly look up to. Find that person and see if they will take you under their wing. At the very least, schedule a lunch meeting with them and pick their brains. Be sure to take notes as well as the information they provide to you will be invaluable.
Learn to Network
During my Dad’s career, networking wasn’t that big of a need. Most people did as he did – stayed with one firm and just moved up in the ranks. Nowadays, people change jobs all of the time. The worst thing you can do is make lateral moves throughout your career. This means that you leave you current job for another job. You might be doing different work, but overall, your responsibilities are the roughly the same. You won’t ever make substantially more money until you start moving up the ladder.
Create a profile on LinkedIn and go to networking events in your industry. Keep in contact with those people you make a connection with so that in the event you need a job, you can reach out to them and they will know who you are and will be willing to help you out.
Work on Self-Improvement
Of course, you have to do the work to improve yourself as well. Make it a habit to take on new projects and volunteer for more work. By taking on projects outside of your comfort zone, you will grow as a person. If you need help, be sure to ask for it as well. Figure out what your main weaknesses are and work on strengthening them. For me, it was public speaking, so I joined a Toastmaster’s club. By continuously growing, you increase your chances of being ready for a promotion and the skills it requires more so than if you just punched in and punched out every day.
It takes work to further your career. The people that are in the roles you want to be in didn’t just fall into them. They worked hard and made strides to continually improve themselves and their work. By doing the same you will better the odds of you getting the promotion that you want. It won’t come overnight, but all great things force you to work a little bit so that you truly enjoy the fruits of your labor.