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Being a working parent doesn’t hold you back from progressing your career – and you’ll get better job satisfaction from seeking new opportunities and challenges at work. We look at some ways in which you can help yourself achieve your career goals.
Much too often, we sit back and expect to be recognised and rewarded for the work we do. But truly successful people take full ownership of their career and create their own opportunities.
That doesn’t mean becoming an unscrupulous corporate climber that stamps all over their colleagues – far from it! Progressing at work is about earning the respect and support of the people around you.
There are a number of habits and behaviours that will really help you harness new opportunities and develop your skills….
Making vague internal statements about wanting to progress is not a helpful approach. You need to narrow down what you want: is it to be promoted to the next level, to transfer to a different team (which team?), or to move on to a new organisation? It’s crucial to decide what your objective is before you set about trying to get there.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to do a good job. Keeping things quietly ticking along is what your manager wants you to do – it makes their life easier. In reality it frees them up to deal with the poorer performers – who get much more attention.
It’s important to find a way to highlight your successes, share your excitement at overcoming a challenge, and express your interest in getting involved with new initiatives and developments.
Good people managers will want to hear about your career plans and help you to achieve them. Helping to advance others makes them look good too! Put regular time in the diary with your manager to discuss your own development and how you can progress in your chosen direction.
No-one is going to develop your career for you. Your colleagues and seniors will help you identify the skills you need to learn or work on, but it’s down to you to make it happen. Find a training course you’re interested in, study for a management qualification, sign up for free workshops. Make sure people know you’re doing it – and why.
Networking is always cited as a good thing to do – and it’s hugely undervalued. What it consists of depends on your role and your career aspirations. In many situations, networking means raising your profile within the organisation.
Generally, it’s less about standing around in awkward breakfast meetings, and more about building work ‘friendships’ with people in different departments, partner organisations or in your local area. It can even include chatting to other parents in the playground!
Many companies recognise the value of linking employees up with mentors. A mentor is usually someone senior to you that can give you both general guidance about how best to develop in your chosen direction, and feedback on how to handle specific situations at work. Usually well networked themselves, they can help you build useful relationships in the right places. You can either ask whether mentoring is an option through your company, or seek out an approachable person yourself.
Finally, don’t expect miracles. Once you’ve set yourself a career goal you won’t achieve it overnight. But by acting on the guidelines above and staying positive and open to opportunity at work, you’ll get there!