But what if you are not currently in the corporate world and working instead as an experienced technical professional. How do you take your career to the next level or move into a more corporate environment?
Have you ever felt that you could accomplish more? Wondered what it would be like to be the one making the decisions, instead of following them? Have you ever been frustrated because you lack the knowledge or skills to work in a corporate office or manage a team of professionals? Maybe you wish to become a manager in your current industry or dream of starting a new adventure and chart a completely new course.
In past surveys conducted by The Way Ahead, a publication for the Society of Petroleum Engineers, approximately two-thirds of young technical professionals sought to pursue a management career while only an estimated one-third ultimately make it to the managerial career path.
I can tell you that all of the above scenarios are possible without starting from scratch or spending four plus years and thousands of dollars obtaining an MBA.
Keep reading and I will share the exact frameworks I used to go from working night shift as an aircraft technician to landing a job as a corporate manager using quality management and literally doubling my salary in less than 3 years.
STEP #1: BRAINSTORMING…
Make a list of your career aspirations.
What is your dream job? What does your ideal career look like? What would you do if you had the ability to start your career over?
Don’t just daydream here, put some serious thought into your career goals. Conduct an individual brainstorming session and develop a list or chart to record your results. This doesn’t have to be super formal, just grab a piece of paper and pen or open a Google doc and jot down your ideas. If you like to get a little more involved, you could even search for a generic brainstorming diagram online and use that but its not required.
Don’t worry if you can’t see the path to achieving these goals right now. You will work on this later, but for now you just want to get your ideas down so you have a starting point as to where you would ultimately like your career to be.
Once you have completed this exercise and you have recorded all your possible career paths, make a decision on which path you would most like to follow. You now have a starting point and a clear goal to work towards.
STEP #2: RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH…
Now that you have a general idea of what your future career looks like, its time to really dig in and immerse yourself. Find out everything you can about your desired career. If career advancement is something you have put some thought into in the past then you have likely done some rudimentary research on this already.
When I first started in quality management as an auditor I spent countless hours researching the industry online, participating in quality related forums and read hundreds of articles. I was determined to learn everything I could to better position myself for advancement.
Read online blogs and forums on the topic, and find out what others in this field are talking about. Participate in threads and post relevant questions. What skills are required? What training would you have to take to gain the required skill set? Most people will be happy to share their knowledge and experiences with you.
I recommend you reach out to managers or key people at companies you would like to work for or hiring managers within your current place of employment. This will not only give you priceless first hand insight, but could be a much needed foot in the door down the line.
Keep a record of your findings during the research stage and continue to update it as you go. Take note of the websites you find helpful, blogs you enjoy reading or forums that offer great insights. Make a separate section for courses and training you uncover as well as the method of instruction and start dates. Some courses are only offered at certain times of the year or may only be available in your location at specific times, so its a good idea to keep track of this info or you may miss out on a valuable offering.
For me, keeping records during research sessions is vital in keeping myself from becoming overwhelmed as I am chasing links and processing a massive amount of information.
STEP #3: DEVELOP YOUR CAREER GAME PLAN…
Establish a game plan and map out the steps you plan to take to achieve your goals.
By putting together a strategic list of action steps, you will remain focused and motivated. It will give you a clear path to achieving your goals and help you right the ship when you start to get discouraged and confused about what to do next. Use the information you uncovered during your research and develop your strategies.
Again, as you did in the brainstorming and research stage, keep a record of your plan. This will be a valuable resource as you progress. When you get stuck or become overwhelmed with tactics or lose sight of your next move, go back to your plan and regain your focus.
This is a very important step and should not be overlooked. Set achievable milestones along the way to help with motivation.
STEP #4: TAKE ACTION…
Begin implementing your strategies.
This is where the fun starts! Put your hard work to good use and systematically implement each strategy by following the game plan you have laid out for yourself. Remember to refer back to your plan regularly for guidance and motivation. update it as required.
It’s important to tweak your game plan a little as you go in order to better align yourself as you gain additional knowledge as you progress.
Sign up for the individual courses you identified to be most valuable to your goals whether it be proficiency in Microsoft Office, leadership skills, or business management. Maybe you have identified programs more directly focused to the position such as internal/external auditing or project management.
You should have the logistics of where and when these courses are being offered from your research. Most Universities will have a continuing education program geared towards mature part time students with careers and families. These courses are generally offered in a blended format, partly online and partly in classroom. You can even enrol in a certificate program if you wanted to go deeper into a particular area. Personally I felt it more beneficial to pick and choose the courses that I felt were more directly targeted to the plan I had developed for myself.
Continue to reach out to leaders in your industry and forge relationships that will benefit you now and in the future. Beef up your LinkedIn profile and start networking with people in your industry.
You don’t need to complete everything all at once, but get the ball rolling. You will be surprised how gratifying it is once you complete each step. When I completed a course or training program I could not wait to get started on the next.
In summary, here are the 4 steps to developing an actionable system for your career advancement:
- Brainstorm your ideas and determine your desired career path.
- Do the research and immerse yourself. Find out everything you can about your chosen career.
- Develop your game plan. Put together the steps required to achieve your goals.
- Put your plan into action and execute your strategies.
These are some of the exact strategies I used to advance my own career. I have learned that by breaking things down into actionable steps and systematically following through, anyone can make themselves more marketable to their desired employers.
Would you like to learn more about systems that will help you advance your career from someone who has spent countless hours researching and implementing these strategies?
Just give me your name and email address, and you’ll get access to my private email list, including strategies and tactics I won’t share anywhere else.