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8 Ways to Advance Your Career to the Next Level

It is always refreshing to speak to students, young professionals and mid-career executives.  I find it broadens my thinking, and the group shares great ideas throughout the collaborative process.

At a recent Drexel University Alumni event, I spoke to fellow attendees about how to advance their careers to the executive level.

Here are eight suggestions we shared on advancing careers:

  1.  Know your career objective and pursue it with vigor:  If you are fortunate enough to have found your interests and passions in the workplace, do your best to understand and become an expert in the field.  Determine how you can continue to advance your skills and knowledge on an ongoing basis.
  2. Competence alone won’t advance you in your career:  Speak up.  Ensure you ask for what you need and don’t be shy about “tooting your own horn.”  You need to be noticed for a job well done; don’t assume your boss or other key leaders know what you have accomplished.
  3. Take some career development risks:  It is important that you take charge of your career.  Be proactive.  Have discussions with your boss about what you’d like to do next.  Partner with him or her and develop recommendations on your next steps.  Make it easy for your supervisor to say “yes” and help you move to the next level.
  4. Network, network, network:  You should network even if you are not looking for a new job.  Networking can expand your thinking – learn what others are doing and determine how you can apply that information to your immediate world.  Focus on a life-long practice of developing relationships.  Ensure those relationships are a two-way street – give and get.  That practice will pay you back many times over.
  5. Fake it until you make it:  If you are moving into a stretch assignment, it is important to think positively and reassure yourself that you are capable and competent.  Self-doubt can hinder your confidence and performance.
  6. Establish your executive presence:  Do you dress professionally and look your best?  Do you have good posture?  Do you maintain eye contact?  Do you inspire confidence and remain calm even during the most challenging moments?  It is important that you look and speak the part to become an executive.
  7. Act like a leader:  It is essential to think strategically, have a vision and inspire others with your vision.  Effective leaders are outstanding communicators and excellent relationship builders.  Managers who withhold information are viewed as ineffective leaders.
  8. Emotional Intelligence:  As your mother told you over and over again – be nice to everyone and say thank you!  Employees gravitate towards nice, interesting and engaging people.  They want to be around them, learn from them and be like them.

It’s common for those just getting started or those already on a career path to get “stuck” in doing the same things.  If that is the case, step outside of your comfort zone and try to mix it up.  Try something different.

Hopefully, these suggestions will help you in your current role and, with a little more effort, they may lead you into that promotion you were hoping to receive sooner rather than later.

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