How to successfully climb the corporate ladder

Talent expert Victoria Sprott gives some advice on how women can get ahead, whether through ensuring they work for companies with the right culture or using mentors to explore career challenges and find solutions to them.

Climbing an imaginary career ladder


The modern workplace is in the midst of change. With increased digitalisation taking the workforce by storm, record-low unemployment levels and a stable job market thriving in spite of economic uncertainties, it is easy to ignore the challenges that are still impacting businesses today. As Robert Half UK’s 2020 Salary Guide showed, the employment market is in need of adaptability and resilience more than ever, as businesses look to plug their skills gap.

This is an ideal time for women in the workplace to take charge of their career development and progression. Companies are desperate to secure top talent to successfully combat a growing skills shortage. Many companies are making great strides towards achieving gender equality in the workplace, while still acknowledging that more work can be done to support to a culture of inclusion for all.

There isn’t a perfect solution that is right for every woman or organisation and there are no quick fixes. However, there are a few steps that both parties can follow to ensure the next promotion is no longer an intangible goal, but a soon-to-be reality.

Champion empowerment

Carving a path for learning and development can be a successful way of ensuring that employees have a clear career trajectory ahead of them when it comes to progression in the workplace.

Setting clear, personalised goals and KPIs against which their performance can be measured allows progress to be more easily quantified when it comes to those important career milestones. In the current “war for talent”, professionals are more than ever in the driving seat of their careers. As a result, they can more closely consider the roles and companies they are looking to work for.

It is easy to sometimes just focus on the ones which are more suitable for their skillsets or goals, but looking into the company culture will provide some insight as to whether it will be right for their happiness at work and their career in the long-term.

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Support and solutions

Finding a workplace that offers opportunities for career advancement is a must for any career-minded female professional. Mentorship schemes also have an important role to play in empowering women’s career progression. The benefit of a mentor is that individuals can adopt informed approaches to enable their career progression rather than repeating mistakes others have made in the past.

It can often be easier to approach a line manager with a solution to a challenge being faced at work – whether that be around improving your work-life balance, managing childcare commitments or improving the working practices to make them inclusive for all. Mentors can often provide the perspective to work through these challenges and help to come up with those solutions.

Having a frank conversation with a line manager about goals and needs at work, for example, more training and development opportunities, might open many doors when it comes to career progression. Showing initiative and being proactive about upskilling will also ensure their skillset does not become redundant, as new technical skills grow in demand every day.

It’s also important for women to champion their own successes as this can make a significant difference when it comes to the possibility of promotion and pay rises.

Career goal honesty

Women need to be clear about personal goals and targets for career progression. Talking to a line manager, or even a sympathetic co-worker, can sometimes provide the knowledge required to confidently approach the subject of progression at work.

Lastly, the value of personal experience and advice should not be underestimated: imparting knowledge to the next generation of female professionals can help women establish themselves as a trusted mentor in the workplace to the next generation, but also encourage them to identify what might be lacking in their own work experience.

*Victoria Sprott is Talent Director at recruitment experts Robert Half UK.

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