Advancing your career is a rewarding journey that requires dedication, strategic planning, and the cultivation of a growth mentality. We have outlined ten actionable steps to advance your career and pave the way for long-term success.
Define Career Success
Begin by defining your career objectives and what success looks like to you. Determine where you want to be in the next year, five years, or even ten years. Having well-defined goals allows you to stay focused and motivated on your path to success.
Here are some questions to help guide your goal development:
- What do I like about my current career?
- What do I want to do more/less of?
- What are the projected career paths from my current position?
- What does success look like to me?
- What inspires me?
Set Attainable Goals
After taking the time to ideate on your career path, it is time to create SMART goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. Defining your goals through these parameters allows them to be clearly defined and attainable. Let’s break those criteria down further:
- Specific: Target a specific area for improvement.
- Measurable: Quantify or have an indicator of progress for your measurable goals.
- Achievable: Specify who will do it and how.
- Realistic: State the results which can be achieved given your available resources.
- Time-bound: Specify your target date or time frame when the results can be achieved.
For example, a common goal in working toward career advancement is “I want to demonstrate my leadership skills.” This resolution is a great start but could use more clarity and definition to come to fruition. Applying the SMART criteria, that goal would transform into “I will demonstrate my leadership skills by volunteering to be the project leader on the next project that comes available. By organizing the team members, assigning roles, and ultimately succeeding, I will demonstrate my ability to get things done and motivate others.”
Seek Opportunities to Upskill/Reskill
Embrace opportunities that challenge you to learn and develop new skills. Professional development helps individuals develop new competencies and improve adaptability, ultimately increasing their opportunities for career advancement.
Our recent research found that only 61% of respondents currently have access to professional development opportunities. If these programs are not available to you, take the initiative to invest time outside of the office to dedicate to enhancing your skillset. Attend workshops, seminars, and training programs to expand your knowledge base and stay updated with industry trends. Another avenue to development is to pursue certifications, advanced degrees, or online courses to enhance your knowledge and expertise. Continuous education demonstrates your commitment to self-improvement.
Embrace Mentorship and Coaching
Having access to a mentor or career coach can provide invaluable guidance and support. These individuals can offer valuable advice, assist in the development of leadership and communication skills, and help you navigate through challenges in your career.
A study conducted by Calibrate found that 79% of respondents are seeking mentorship, while only 21% have dedicated programs for this in their workplace. If your company does not have a formal program in place, seeking a mentor on your own can still be highly beneficial. Before beginning your search, be sure to identify your mentorship needs and clearly define the goals you would like to meet.
Utilize your Manager
Level-setting your career goals with your direct manager can be pivotal in accessing development opportunities and finding an internal advocate for your career growth within the company. To start the conversation, provide your manager with the specific goals you are looking to accomplish and ask what resources and professional development opportunities are available to you, both presently and down the line.
Solicit Feedback and Act on It
While this can be quite challenging at first, having the opportunity to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses can be extremely valuable and propel your professional growth. Everyone has areas in which they could be improving their performance. Welcoming constructive criticism and seeking feedback from colleagues and supervisors affords you the opportunity to identify those areas and gain a competitive advantage. Employ the feedback they provide to improve your skills and demonstrate your commitment to growth.
Keeping track of the goals you have set for your path to career advancement requires a well-organized, detailed system. Utilizing productivity and project management tools such as Trello or Todoist can help automate and optimize this process. These tools are also highly effective in encouraging accountability with the capability to set up reminders, create subtasks, and leave progress updates as commentary.
Showcase Your Skills and Accomplishments
Confidently communicate your achievements to your supervisors and peers. Keep a record of your contributions and use data and metrics to demonstrate your impact on projects and the organization as a whole. Leveraging data can help maximize your influence and communicate your value to leadership as you seek advancement in your current role.
Be Proactive and Take Initiative
Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you; create them yourself. Volunteer for challenging projects, propose new ideas, and take the initiative to solve problems proactively. Working on stretch assignments can result in gaining cross-department work experience as well as the opportunity to develop practical knowledge of a new skillset.
Build and Champion your Personal Brand
How you position and champion yourself in the workplace has a direct effect on the way that your coworkers and management perceive both you and your work output. An influential personal brand is authentic and carefully cultivated, clearly highlighting who you are, your goals, and your greatest strengths. Investing the time to develop your unique brand can help demonstrate and better position your subject matter expertise and set you apart from the crowd.
There are many courses you can chart when beginning your journey to career advancement, however, they all begin with clearly defining your career goals and breaking them down into actionable tasks.
Connect With Us
If you are interested speaking more to our recruiters about professional development and mapping your career path, we’d love to hear from you! Actively seeking a new role? Check out our career center to view our latest opportunities at top law firms across North America that are seeking high-value talent.