You might think that career advancement is a mechanical process that involves ticking a bunch of boxes. And the way companies write job descriptions and offers makes it sound this way. They’re always looking for people with a certain amount of experience or education along with a specific degree.
But when you look at how careers advancement works in the real world, there seems to be very little correlation between how much experience a person has and what they earn. There’s a big disconnect there.
That’s because career advancement isn’t just about one or two things. It includes a host of factors that employers consider when making up their minds.
In some industries, education is vital. For instance, if you want to go from a regular nurse to advanced practice, you have to get a BSN-DNP degree. It’s part of the rules. The same goes for chartered accountancy and other “professions” that use education for the bedrock for roles. Having a great education certainly helps considerably.
In some cases, therefore, you’ll need to go back to school. That’s not a bad thing, though. Taking a career break is often something that affirms your working life. And once you get the certifications you need, it’s much easier for you to progress towards greater responsibility.
Education is important, but so is your attitude. The way you think about your work can have a massive impact on your overall productivity and success.
Most people unconsciously think of themselves as grunts: slaves who always need to do their master’s bidding. We don’t use such extremes in the modern world. It seems vulgar to our enlightened sensibilities. And yet you see these psychodynamics playing out in the real world all the time. Highly competent people continue working away in low-paying jobs because they have a certain set of unconscious beliefs.
Why does wealth always seem to beget wealth? It has very little to do with returns on the stock market. Instead, it’s an attitude that the people at the top bake into their children. They literally grow up believing that they are the best and have the authority to govern other people. It’s not something that their parents teach them consciously; it’s just an assumption baked into the background.
Changing your attitude towards yourself, therefore, is one of the best ways to advance your career. Once you start thinking differently, the way you see yourself will rub off on other people. Eventually, you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’re effortlessly gliding up the career ladder because that’s where you’re supposed to be. It’s very much a case of mind over matter.
Do people often come to you for information or advice? If so, then your knowledge may be able to help you advance in your career.
Remember, knowledge is a rare thing. The more you know about a particular subject (and the more practical advice you can offer people), the more you’ll become respected. Your colleagues will see your capacities and assume that they qualify you for more senior roles. It’s a curious quirk of collective psychology, but it works and certainly helps get people into management positions.
Spend as much time as possible developing your knowledge, and try to deploy it conspicuously. Use opportunities at work to let everyone know that you understand precisely what you’re talking about.
When it comes to career advancement, time can be a limiting factor. You’re spending so much of your week on the job that you don’t have any leftover to seek new opportunities.
Time, however, is something you need to conserve if you want your career to have a specific trajectory. Don’t assume that promotions will automatically come your way. They probably won’t. Instead, you’ll need to put yourself out there to get what you want. Reaching out to third-party companies is one way to do it. But so too is lobbying in your own firm for a raise, with the continual threat of leaving if you don’t get it.
Remember, people rarely receive pay rises by just sticking with the same company long-term. Instead, the people who get paid the most are those who jump from one ship to another, looking for the best offers.
Conserving your time is ultimately the goal of career advancement. You want to be in a position where you don’t need to spend your entire week working. You want to be able to allocate it how you like.
Getting to that point, though, requires seeking out new opportunities continuously.