There is a growing trend out there for working a shorter work week or even leaving the corporate workforce to work for yourself. But, for most of us, leaving our current job or even shortening our work week is just not on the short-term horizon. Given that stark reality, it would be wise to set yourself up for some upward movement in your current job. Easier said than done right? Well, there certainly are a number of steps that you can take to “set yourself up” for a bump in pay and a bump in respect in the workplace.
I’m a firm believer in the quote “The truly educated never graduate”. Adding marketable skills and training to your resume should be a constant in your life, particularly if your company will pay for it. At my place of employment the company will pay the full price of degree classes, including books, but you would be surprised how many workers don’t take advantage of it. Continuing education has become much more popular in the past few years. In a recent article in the New York Times it was stated that:
“community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, for-profit technical schools, professional organizations and everything in between are expanding their course offerings and retooling their curriculums.”
This expansion of the offerings is more in response to the downturn in the economy and the desire of workers who have lost their jobs to get more training. But, for those of you who are still in your jobs, it is an excellent opportunity to expand the breadth of your knowledge. You would be surprised at the amount of colleges that offer online degree programs. I am currently finishing up another degree that I took entirely online. The major advantage of this type of education is that you don’t have to deal with the logistics of fighting traffic after work and heading to class. The time savings is significant and you can work on your schoolwork at a time that is convenient for you.
Learn How to Speak Confidently
As far as promotions go, a boss will be looking for someone to whom he can delegate uncomfortable tasks to. Oftentimes this may require giving a presentation to a group at a conference or at a company luncheon. If you can learn to get comfortable speaking in front of a group this will help you immeasurably in the eyes of the executives in your company.
Easier said than done huh? Well, there is an international group that was founded in 1924 called Toastmasters whose mission statement is “Become the Speaker & Leader You Want to Be”. As a former president of a local Toastmasters chapter, I can attest to the fact that working on your speaking in front of a supportive group of fellow members will definitely prepare you for presentations or extemporaneous talks you may have to give at your workplace.
Get to Know the Executives of the Company
In a smaller company it’s typically a lot easier to get to know the executives of the company on a first-name basis. Those executives were once in your position and they understand what it takes to move ahead in an organization. Typically they will be amenable to helping you out if they can see that you are working to improve yourself and help out the company.
Try to discover some activities that you may have in common. Golf is very popular in the corporate world and many meetings take place on the golf course. It wouldn’t hurt to buy some clubs and take a few lessons. If you get to know the executives then they may make it a point to ask for your help for information that they may need to do their jobs. These are the opportunities that could propel you to the advancement you are looking for in your career. It is at these times that you may have to put in the extra hours but the payoff may be invaluable.
Stick to Your Guns
Company executives typically want to promote people who have their own ideas and opinions, and the conviction to stand by them. The idea that “Yes” men get ahead is a fallacy. If you feel firmly about a certain topic or strategy related to the workplace, state your opinion and stick by it.
Back your assertions with facts rather than gut feelings. If you show that you’ve done your homework on a topic this will also display to the executives your preparedness and initiative.
Have Integrity & Be Ethical
Dictionary.com defines the word integrity as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” At my workplace we are required on a yearly basis to take “Ethics” courses. Companies are especially sensitive to impropriety in the workplace. An example of this is a company setting a limit on the dollar amount of a gift that a buyer can receive from a supplier.
There is a strict code of conduct within companies that the employees must abide by. Any variation from these guidelines is taken very seriously and could lead to termination of employment. Having a good awareness and understanding of your company’s ethics requirements is extremely important if you are looking for advancement.
If you are still at your current workplace and are looking for advancement it is essential that you prepare for what comes next. Be ready for the opportunities that will come your way. Make people notice you by going that extra mile to educate yourself and improve your personal skills. No one is going to give you anything. You have to go and get it by your actions and your conviction. There are always opportunities in life and, unless you are prepared, they just may pass you by.