By Pauline Millard
Getting your first job out of school is exciting. You feel like your education has been validated and you’re getting a handle on the concept of adulting. After a while -- maybe a year or so -- you get your bearings and the entry level job that you were so jazzed about is no longer much of a challenge. It’s time to move up.
When you’re the low man on the totem pole, convincing people that you’re ready to be not so low can seem daunting. But everyone, even the CEO, was once the newbie somewhere. With a little focus and strategy, you can be moving onward and upward as well.
Let your boss know you’re ready for more. You may love your company, but you don’t want to be someone’s assistant forever. If you don’t ask for something you won’t get it, so it’s important that your supervisors know you’re ready for more responsibilites. (And a better title.)
Ask for guidelines. To move up, you will need to show that you’re ready. Some companies have formal requirements for any jump from an entry level position, such as the length of time that you’ve been an employee. It’s important to know if there are any.
Then ask your manager for specific, measurable metrics that you can shoot for. They should be things like, “Grow sales by 10%” or “Increase social media presence by 25%” Goals like these will serve as a North Star to make sure your day-to-day actions are heading you in the right direction. Then make it a habit to check in with your boss every week or two.
Keep track of what you do. Don’t rely on your manager’s memory. Your boss has a million things going on, and the last thing they are doing is keeping score of everything you’re up to.
Start keeping track of everything you do that brings value to your company or team, from sales you’ve helped close to ideas that were brought to fruition. That way, when you sit down with your boss and talk about why you should be promoted, you will have concrete examples to show them.
Network within your company. There’s more to life than your cubicle walls, and the more people you know, the better your chances will be at moving up.
Networking is just another word for talking to people. Even if you’re young, never be shy about chatting someone up. The beauty of companies is that there are often plenty of perfectly organic ways to go about doing this. Things like office happy hours, volunteer projects and rec sports teams are amazing ways to get to know people. People within a department know long before human resources does about when a position is going to open. It’s a huge advantage if you’re already on someone’s radar.
Network outside of work. More than likely, you're going to have to leave your current firm in order to move up. You'll need to make some contacts outside of work. Obviously, you should go to events and conferences that pertain to your field, and talk to as many people as possible. But don’t forget that activities that have nothing to do with work can lead to great opportunities. In short, don’t be hermit. Be social.
You never know who or what someone knows, so always be kind to people and give them the best version of yourself. That way, if something opens up at a firm where they work, they will be happy -- and comfortable -- pointing you in the right direction.
Keep your skills updated. Lifelong learning is the other key to success. Certain skills may have gotten you the job, but there is always room to grow. Learn as much as you can about your field and stay current on evolving skillsets. Years ago, it was the person who knew HTML who was sought after, then it was the one who was social media savvy. Stay up to date so that you know what skills are in demand. And then learn them.