Finding ways to genuinely advance your career can feel like pushing a boulder up a hill at times. You put your head down and plan and execute but make little to no progress. You’re not alone – over a third of adults (34%) are looking to change their job or career in the next two years, and almost one in five UK workers say they are likely to change jobs in the next 12 months as they seek better pay and higher job satisfaction. If you find yourself among professionals in these groups, there are some effective approaches that can help take your career to new heights.
Think Long-Term, Not Short
The first and most crucial step in advancing your career is adopting a long-term mindset. Short-term solutions may satisfy your itch for change, but they don’t get you closer to your ultimate goal. Your immediate objective – your only short-term focus, if you will – is to maintain solid performance in the role you have now. If you’re hoping to climb the ladder within your current organisation, consistent results will show the decision-makers that you’re ready for the next level. Likewise, even if your aim is to leave the company, strong performance will demonstrate your skill set and capacity to your next employer. However, it’s not only about slogging through the day-to-day while you wait for a promotion.
You already have the ability to forecast what your future role will look like. Get your hands on the job description for your next position. Determine which skills you’ll need to carry over, which skills you’ll need to learn, and which ones you can drop altogether. Then, take advantage of the resources at your disposal (e.g., mentorship, shadowing, conversations with senior partners, etc.) to build out an effective plan that can make you an undeniable candidate for the next level.
Understand the Social Element
Your network is your net worth. It’s a cliché but for good reason.Advancing your career is not something that you can do on your own. You’ll need people who are in your corner to help you ascend into the role you want. Being honest with your manager about your goals is a good first step; they can help you strategize regarding the skills and experience that you're missing and perhaps assign you more responsibilities to help you develop missing competencies.
But you’ll also need the support of your senior partners. Earning their respect is an important gateway to getting ahead of the curve. This involves performing well in the professional context but also ingratiating yourself on a social level. Getting to know the senior partners beyond their work duties can help you connect with them on a deeper level, whether that’s through social events or a shared hobby. These more personal connections also showcase you as a well-rounded professional who can navigate the unwritten rules of higher-level positions.
Learn to Think More Commercially
Another key to breaking through to the next level is gaining a deeper understanding of the client’s needs. By understanding the business and economic implications of your actions, you can move from being a tax consultant to more of a business advisor and thus provide more insightful strategic guidance for your clients. By immersing yourself in the current state of the market, you can learn to forecast trends and predict the needs of your clients before they come to you. This initiative can highlight your industry-specific savvy and your willingness to go above and beyond what’s required.
Though there are many, these approaches can help establish you as a trailblazer who is motivated and hungry for a challenge. Modelling your ambition, and backing it up with expertise, is the most direct path to advancing your career.