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Career Progression: How To Climb The Career Ladder

Maddie Brindley-Slater
6 June 2022
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Every one of us has unique career goals; whether or not you only have a vague idea or you’ve spent a great deal of time considering your long term objectives. If your goal centres around progressing up the career ladder, there are a number of steps you can take to bring your dream ever closer.

What is career progression?

Career progression can be defined as when an individual takes positive steps in the desired direction in their job. Commonly described as ‘climbing the ladder’, every rung of the ladder is a small step towards progress. Ultimately, in-work progression can be achieved through setting bite-sized steps towards your greater goal.

In previous generations (think Generation X), it was common for individuals to rise up steadily through the levels of a business. As Generation X begins to reach the end of their career spans, Generation Y now accounts for 18% of the UK’s working demographic.

Due to changes in the way we work, economic uncertainty and pandemic related job losses, recent studies by the Department For Work & Pensions have found a significant decrease in levels of in-work progression for Generation Y, meaning a shift in the way careers play out.

Despite the differences, the good news is that career progression is still very much attainable! Check out our useful guide to climbing the career ladder below…

Here’s how to achieve progression in work

Understand the current scope

Start by getting an understanding of your current scenario; is there room for development?

Aim to speak with the person you report in to, so that you can gain a solid understanding of where you are currently, plus what you need to do to get from A to B. This is also a great time to gain a foothold on whether there is enough scope to meet your career objectives in your current organisation.

Unfortunately, not every business will be poised to offer up progression opportunities due to a number of factors. If there is no scope for progression, consider your options and whether switching careers is needed.

Set goals & be ready to go above & beyond

It goes without saying that to progress in your career you have to impress! There will be a lot of work required in order to stand out from the crowd, but as long as you’re willing to put in the effort, your hard work should pay off.

One way of ensuring you see consistent results is to create a detailed goal plan, checking in at frequent intervals. Start by writing your short term goals for the next 6 and 12 months, followed by your long term goals for the next 5-10 years.

If you don’t usually write your goals down, there is good reason to do so! Findings by California’s Dominican University show that individuals who write down their goals are considerably more likely to achieve them than those who do not.

As well as writing objectives down, keeping track of your goals not only helps you to remain focused but also adds to the likelihood of success, with studies finding that those that frequently check in on their progress see the best results.

In addition to keeping you on track and holding yourself accountable, consistent check-ins along the way can do wonders for keeping you motivated. This extra motivation can help give you the drive and energy to go above and beyond within your role.

Prioritise personal development

Let’s face it, whilst working your way up the career ladder there is always going to be a healthy dose of competition.

There may arise an opportunity where you’re going up against lots of talent, so having plenty of selling points and a strong skill set will be key. Having a good understanding of yourself, your strengths and your goals will be critical for standing out from the crowd.

To ensure you are at the top of your game at all the key moments of your career, be sure to place emphasis on your continuous development and self-reflection.

Self-development and reflection involve making a habit of brushing up on your skills and being aware of yourself on both a personal and a professional level.

Some self-reflection examples to consider are: how up to date are you with industry news and trends? How do your skills compare with your colleagues? What is your emotional intelligence like?

By continuously working hard to enhance and reflect on your current standing, you’ll benefit from uncovering blind spots. These areas can be the difference between progressing or experiencing a standstill and can be one of the biggest factors to support you on your mission.

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Get support from an expert

Advancing your career doesn’t have to be difficult! As well as following the above tips, turning to external support from an expert with extensive experience is an invaluable tactic.

Working with an online coach or mentor can support your career goals in a number of ways, including the following:

  • Growing your confidence
  • Understanding strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement
  • Helping to improve your CV
  • Preparing you for interviews
  • Setting & achieving SMART goals
  • Work-life balance

If progressing up the career ladder is a part of your long term goals, take the first step to success by speaking to an expert via a Virtual Coffee. A Virtual Coffee is your chance to discuss your goals and needs before beginning your self-improvement journey.

Browse 100+ coaches, mentors and wellbeing experts by sector or experience here.

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