Create Your Own Opportunities at Your Organization

By Harvard Business Review
March 18, 2019

Here are four strategies professionals might consider when there is no clear career path for moving up the ladder.

Join an organization, work hard, move up the ladder. It’s been decades since this old script was a reliable path. These days, companies often have no idea what staffing needs they’ll have in a few years or who would be qualified to fill them. In this context, career progress may only sometimes be linear — and often, may instead appear diagonal or horizontal. 

Here are four strategies professionals can follow to successfully navigate this new terrain:

Make yourself aware of the possibilities: One appeal of the traditional linear career path was that it didn’t take much research. While not everyone achieved the end goal (such as a promotion), it was very clear what it was. In the new workplace reality, individual professionals almost have to take a detectivelike approach, investigating and vetting opportunities.

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Seek out help: Go to human resources with suggestions about professional development programs and conferences you’d like to attend or courses you want to take. HR will often be extremely receptive.

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Don’t wait to hear about open positions: Instead, identify your own ideal opportunities. It’s your job to precisely target the positions that appeal to you most. Develop a strategy to connect with, befriend and court those connections.

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Work to cultivate influential allies: It’s always useful to have a mentor or, even better, a sponsor. Once you’ve landed these key allies, your job isn’t done. As you progress at your company and in your career, it’s essential to keep your mentors and sponsors informed about your progress.

Copyright 2018 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

Topics: Career Planning

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