It can take time to position yourself well enough to take the next step in your career. That’s why it’s always important that you have a career plan and start to address your next steps long before you take them. Sometimes, taking the next career step will mean moving to another company, while others may find that they can get higher within the organization that employs them. The key to ensuring that your career plan proceeds according to your time scale is research and planning. If you fail to develop an understanding of both yourself and your next position then you can easily lose out to competitors. Here’s what you need to focus on.
Address Skills Gaps
A career next step will inevitably mean more responsibilities and new skills. If you lack the skills needed to competently fill a role then you need to take time before you apply for your next step and invest that time in learning the core skills. These will often be highly specialized depending on the position you intend to apply for, but there are a wide range of additional skills that can help you leverage your way into a new position. Communication skills are vital, but you should prioritize the development of your negotiation skills. Learn how the negotiation strategy of providing an alternative to negotiated agreement can work in your favor, and you could even have more success when it comes to discussing your salary increase.
Act Like You Belong
This strategy simply refers to acting like you are already in the position that you are aiming for. In the real world, that means learning how those that are already working in the position that you are targeting should become part of your network. Networking is vital in the workplace and can go a long way to smoothing the pathway before you make your next step. The more that you associate with senior individuals, the easier it is to build the perception that you belong. Get seen, get involved in conversations, both online and offline, and make sure that you start building relationships long before you start your first day in your new role. Of course, you mustn’t let your performance levels drop in the process. You will have little chance of a successful next step interview if your workflow is already being negatively affected by your career goals.
Many people that take part in internal interviews make the mistake of thinking that they have an in-built advantage. That’s no longer true, and employers have a wider pool of talent to choose from than ever before. If you have an internal interview planned, make sure that you take a step back and evaluate the company from a fresh perspective. Treat the interview itself in the same way that you would an external interview, but remember that you do have the advantage of knowing cultural expectations and team goals. For those that are interviewing with a brand new company, the trick is being aware of exactly what benefits you bring to the table. Think about the main reasons why your prospective employer should hire you over the other candidates in the waiting room, and think more about what you offer in terms of skills and commitment.
Wherever the next step in your career takes you, make sure you take your time to address any skills that you don’t currently have, and start spending more time on your networking — the more that you prepare, the more likely that you will be able to position yourself better.
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