Working your way up a company is an effective way to become familiar with various facets of a company. Mastering a number of tasks and positions and getting recognized for your competence can be reaffirming of your value to the company. Climbing the corporate ladder requires goal definition, commitment, responsibility, and productivity. With a positive attitude and strong work ethic, you should be on your way to the top in no time!
EditPlanning Goals for the Future
- Define your corporate goal. Your ultimate goal may be to hold a top leadership position in a company or to manage a large department. Be specific about your career goals. Write your goals down and keep them in your desk so that you can remind yourself to stay motivated.
- Ask veteran employees about their experiences. Ask them to explain to you how they worked their way up the corporate ladder. Their advancement paths and strategies might resonate with you and give you inspiration. However, remember that each person’s path to success is unique.
- Approach your co-worker when they have free time. Tell them that you admire their work, and that you hope to increase your value to the company. Ask them: “How do you recommend pursuing a promotion here?” or “How did you work your way to your current position?” You could even praise them for a specific task that they recently completed, and ask them how they went about accomplishing it.
- Remain motivated in your position. Understanding your role’s value to the overall process and to the company will allow you to demonstrate the proper commitment. Maintain a positive attitude; you never know who is paying attention.
- Understand the company structure. There may be multiple departments with various levels of management within each. Familiarize yourself with the company structure by studying its organizational chart and learning the important players in management.
EditMaking Yourself Invaluable
- Demonstrate your commitment. Show the higher-ups that your goals align with the goals of the company. Stuffing envelopes or filing paperwork may seem below your skill level, but remind yourself that your work is important and may lead to company sales. Bringing an executive their morning coffee may seem far removed from your goal of being an executive, but it will allow you to build interpersonal relationships and will help the executive to better perform daily tasks.
- Network with co-workers. Build positive relationships with people at all levels of the company. One of your co-workers may become your boss some day. A colleague with whom you have a personality clash may wind up in a position to chime in about your suitability for a promotion. Treat everyone with respect and fairness, and they will be likely to pay you respect in return.
- Show your appreciation for others. Acknowledge the contributions of colleagues who help you solve difficult problems. When leading others, let them know that you appreciate their individual strengths.
- Greet people warmly. Whether in an elevator with a top executive or standing in the company cafeteria line with an employee from another department, take the opportunity to introduce yourself and strike up conversation.
- Attend company-wide social functions. It might be tempting to skip the company’s holiday event, but attending such social gatherings will allow you to interact with a wide variety of company employees. It will also increase your visibility and your chances of being viewed as an integral member of the company.
- Take on additional responsibilities. Lighten your boss’ workload by offering to oversee a small project. Stay late to master new software, make sales calls, or organize paperwork. Make sure that the additional tasks that you pursue contribute to greater productivity without jeopardizing your relationships with colleagues.
- Avoid stepping on other people’s toes or crossing boundaries. Your goal is not to outdo your supervisor or to highlight the inadequacy of your colleagues, but rather to offer vital support.
EditBroadening Your Skill Set
- Enroll in classes to strengthen skills. Learn the information and skills that you need to progress to the next level in the company. If your goal is to work your way up from administrative assistant to project coordinator to project manager to department director, always prepare for the next job in the sequence of promotions.
- Look for courses offered online, or skim your local newspaper for opportunities. Community college courses can also be a helpful and affordable option. Ask your co-workers or your boss if they have any recommendations for you.
- Take courses offered by the company. Some companies offer training and development programs to help employees gain new skills. When given a choice, use these opportunities wisely by choosing classes that will prepare you for a future role. Your boss will be impressed that you are working to better yourself in order to become more of an asset to the company.
- Learn a new language. Many companies will be more apt to promote someone who is knowledgeable in more than one language, since it gives them an edge over their competition and helps them to get their message across to a larger audience of consumers.
- Find out whether your company has an office or market in a foreign country. You will have a better chance at career advancement if you learn the language in that particular country. If your company has an office in Berlin, for instance, it could help you to learn German. Or if your company does business in Madrid, you may want to become fluent in Spanish.
EditAdvancing Your Career
- Apply to relevant job openings. Many companies tend to promote from within, since they value employees who wish to stay with their company for a long time. Ask your employer if there is an internal job postings site, as some opportunities might be shared within the company before they decide to outsource or open the role to new hires.
- Be sure that you possess the right qualifications and experience for any position to which you apply. Be realistic about your capabilities, and make logical progressions.
- Ask for a promotion. If you have been working hard in your position for over a year, and feel that you are qualified for a higher position, it cannot hurt to inquire about opportunity for promotion. Apply for the job before approaching your boss. Be honest about your goals, and about why you think you would be a good fit for the new role.
- Discussing a salary raise or the terms of your employment with your boss can be intimidating. Describe how you have positively contributed to the company thus far, and how you hope to assist the company in achieving its goals going forward. Create a presentation highlighting your skills and your job performance. Say, “I am the best candidate for the role because…” and then list your assets.
- Have confidence in yourself, and remain open to the possibility that your boss may not be quite ready to promote you. Do not give up; instead, use this as motivation to work even harder so that your employer will realize your full potential.
- Be patient. Plan to stay in each position for a reasonable amount of time. Although the right amount of time is largely dependent on the needs of the particular company, staying in a position for at least 1 year is a common expectation. It often takes that long to master the responsibilities, to contribute value to your company, and to train others before being promoted.