Posted September 25, 2014 by

Want a promotion? 5 Tips to Move Your Career Ahead

Robin Ryan

Robin Ryan

“People lack initiative” says this Senior HR director sitting across from me. “They come to me and say ‘what do I need to do next to get promoted?’ It seems so obvious to me and yet they can’t see the opportunities in front of their faces.'”

Is she talking about you? Do you just expect your boss or HR to lead the way? You must take the lead in managing your own career. Managers and mentors can advise you but the real work starts with you. Here are 5 ways to move yourself and your career forward.

1.    Explore the BIG picture. Take an hour and explore your field – your professional association is the best place to start. What are the new trends? Where is the future headed? Next, consider what is developing in your own organization. New products. New business development initiates. Any special department projects? You need to understand these pieces to make a more informed choice on where to point your career.

2.    Identify what your next two career moves are.
Start with being sure these are jobs you’d be happy doing. Name the job titles and then review the job descriptions for both jobs. Ask HR to email them to you if they aren’t available on your company’s internal employees’ website. Do you need more training to land these jobs? Note what that is and how you can obtain it. A lot of training is available on-the-job or through your company. For example, if you want to move into management check out which leadership programs your training department offers. Many colleges offer online courses and degrees so map out what education you’ll need to make a move up.

3.  Is this a good fit for you? When you explore future career opportunities always ask yourself: will this new job maximize my best talents and interests? If not, write out why. You won’t be happy in any job you have little interest in. Do some more research. Begin with jobs that require extensive use of your talents and will expand them. Pay extra attention to new products, services or areas being developed and the jobs supporting or leading them.

4.   Look around. Getting noticed often means being visible and doing more than just your job. Volunteer for an important committee or task that upper management cares about. For example, maybe your company is working on diversity or plans a new major IT overhaul. Volunteer to represent your department. You’ll meet new people especially managers. Pick something that might stretch your skills or where you will learn something new. Exposure is key to adding to your personal network and demonstrating your willingness to take on new challenges.

5.   Fix something. Is there something that could be done better? Supervisors love it when you take charge and streamline or improve a process or system. Consider what you could work on. Maybe it’s reorganizing the files. It may be writing a “how-to” manual outlining  the best practices operating procedures for a complex task, process or system or a guide new employees can use. Maybe you offer to train new hires. Come up with an idea or two and run it by your boss to be sure you are compatible with what your supervisors priorities are.

By Robin Ryan, Author of “Soaring on Your Strengths”

Career Counselor Robin Ryan provides individual career counseling, job search, resume writing and interview coaching services to clients nationwide. She is the bestselling author of 60 Seconds & You’re Hired!; Winning Resumes; Winning Cover Letters; Soaring On Your Strengths; What to Do with the Rest of Your Life; and Over 40 & You’re Hired.  Robin Ryan has appeared on over 1500 TV and radio shows including: Oprah, Dr. Phil, Fox News, PBS and CNN.  Website:

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