Career Advancement

How to Move Up at Work

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Career advancement, when we discuss it within the context of career development, refers to the upward trajectory of an individual's  career. One can advance in a single occupation by moving up from an entry-level job to a management position, for instance. This growth may come after one gains experience, completes additional training, earns a degree, or receives certification.

Advancement may also come in the form of a career change from one occupation to a related one that has greater responsibilities.

Usually, the advanced position requires more experience and additional education. One example would be a physical therapy aide who goes to school to become a physical therapy assistant. Another is carpenter who becomes a construction project manager after getting experience and a degree.

Why You Need to Know About Advancement

When you are exploring an occupation, it is a good idea to learn what advancement opportunities are available to people who work in that field. If you are someone who needs new challenges and increasing responsibilities, you will become bored if your career lacks the opportunity to grow. Your boredom will likely lead you to become dissatisfied. Eventually, you will have to make a choice about how to proceed. You can resign yourself to spending your days unhappy with your work, or you can change your career. Making a transition to a new occupation isn't easy—it takes time, energy, and money—and therefore many people are stuck in a dissatisfying career.

When reading a description of an occupation, look for information about advancement opportunities. You can also conduct informational interviews with people who work in the field about which you are thinking. Choose individuals who have a lot of experience. Ask them how their careers have progressed since they started working.

How did their entry-level jobs differ from what they are doing now? Inquire about what they expect to be doing in the future. Do they have hopes of climbing the corporate ladder or are they worried they are in a dead end job?

Also, ask the people you interview about their aspirations. Not everyone who has the opportunity to advance will take advantage of it. Remember, also, that the presence of the opportunity to move up, doesn't necessarily mean you will have a boss who will give you the chance to grow. To progress in your job, you may have to find a new job that offers you mobility.

How to Advance at Work

If you are employed in an occupation that offers advancement opportunities and your employer is amenable to promoting from within, there are some things you can do to help things progress. You should:

  • Ask your boss to assign more challenging projects to you. This will let you demonstrate your willingness to take on more responsibility and give you a chance to prove that you can handle it.
  • Regularly check in-house job listings for higher level positions. Make sure you qualify for them before you apply.
  • Offer to help out others, including your boss, with difficult projects. Doing this will show that you are a team player.
  • Ask someone with more experience, for example, your mentor, for advice. She will be able to give you helpful pointers. Getting guidance about matters such as advancement is one of the best reasons to have a mentor, so if you don't have one, try to establish that relationship as soon as possible.
  • Find out what additional training and certifications can help you advance in your career and then pursue them if you can. Learn about your employer's tuition reimbursement policy. Your organization may foot the bill for your continuing education.

Is Anything Wrong With Being Happy Where You Are?

Not everyone strives to advance in his career. Some people are happy staying right where they are, and nothing is wrong with you if you feel that way. It doesn't make you lazy or unmotivated. It is possible to work as hard, or harder, in an entry level positions than in a higher one.

You may know that you aren't management material and that's okay.

You should be aware, however, that a lack of desire for career advancement, doesn't necessarily mean you won't become bored with your job. If that happens, you can consider making a lateral move within your organization. This involves moving from one position to another with different duties but a similar level of responsibility. Unfortunately, this may mean your salary probably won't increase either.