Climbing the Career Ladder in 5 steps January 7, 2017
Many people have climbed the career ladder, it’s a well-trodden path.
Not by the majority of course: only a small fraction of all professionals make it to the top. But still, thousands have done it before you. You just don’t hear their stories. Yes of course, there are articles and even entire books written about the lives of the most acclaimed entrepreneurs and world-renown executives, but these tend to be inspirational and grandiose.
Nobody has ever written a detailed HANDBOOK… so let me try and do that for you right now.
So I’ll call it…
The 5-stage career ladder climbing method
Or something like that.
(Note that this method focuses on how to improve your status by changing companies. If you’re seeking a promotion within your existing company, the exact way to get it will vary depending on your superiors’ current perception of you and on your company’s policies. It can be a very worthwhile pursuit though, and it’s a topic that is thoroughly explored within my full Accomplished Achiever Blueprint – Free Guide here.)
Countless books have already been written about the lives of the greats, what shaped their character, their business philosophy, etc. So let me cut to the chase and simply say – the moment you realise that you would like to boost your career, to become richer, prouder, more influential, do this:
To get from your current role to your next role, chances are you need to learn something. There are situations in which you feel ready for the next step and you just need to “sell” yourself better, and that will be covered in steps 2 and 3, so you can skip to those. However, have a very honest look at yourself. Is there really nothing you need to learn to cover the next role? Is your boss really that idiotic and can you do a better job than him / her, in every aspect? Do you actually know every aspect of his / her job, day in and day out? Maybe start by answering that last question and go from there.
Sometimes “Learning” really means “Demonstrating”. We often learn by doing and employers know that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour. So taking one course isn’t enough to claim you’ve honed a skill. Mastery takes time and can only be quantified through past success. So as soon as you’ve learned the skill, proactively jump on a project or take on an area of responsibility that will force you to apply that skill – make sure that all the skills you’ve learned have a demonstrable achievement prominently featured on your CV.
2. Research and Network
You need to discover the names of the companies in the field in which you’d like to work. You can do this by talking to people who work in the field, or by Googling the names of companies in the field. Once you have a list of companies, you want to search the company names on LinkedIn or your Country’s leading professional social network, to see whether you have any 2nd degree connections that you can get introduced to. You may even have 1st degree connections you didn’t know about – unless you constantly keep in touch with your hundreds of LinkedIn contacts (which I doubt), it’s very possible that one of your acquaintances has joined your target company without you knowing. (if you don’t have hundreds of connections on LinkedIn, see a previous blog post and learn how to start building your network now)
If you’re applying to large companies, networking can be key, as these companies receive hundreds of CVs every day, and knowing someone on the inside may guarantee that your CV is reviewed and not lost in the pile. For smaller companies, it’s more likely that they’ll carefully review every CV they receive, so don’t hesitate to apply directly through their website. Whatever you do, trust the law of large numbers and apply to as many relevant companies as you can find. To increase your chances though, always apply smartly, which brings me to…
Time to stand out. Spamming every company under the sun with identical versions of your CV, not a good idea. That’s what most people do, you say? Yes, that’s why you want to do it differently, to signal that you’re not most people. So tailor each CV to each position that you’re applying to. Send a Cover Letter even if it’s not mandatory to: it will ensure that your most relevant qualifications and achievements jump out to the employer. If LinkedIn or another platform you’re using doesn’t allow you to upload a Cover Letter, check the employer’s website and see if you can apply to the position directly – typically, employers’ websites allow you to upload a Cover Letter.
They say that looking for a job is a full-time job in and of itself. Yes well, your career depends on it (as do your livelihood and your dreams), so it’s worth doing well. That being said, personalising your CV and Cover Letter for each job offer needn’t be very time consuming: with the right structure, you can tailor them in minutes.
Discipline will be key in this stage: apply to a fixed number of companies every day or you’ll lose momentum.
At this point, you’ll have interviewed for several positions, and you’ll hopefully have received one or more job offers for roles that are either (A) more senior than your current role or (B) more aligned with the kind of work you want to be doing to pursue your Calling. Weigh the offers if you have more than one and pick your favourite.
With every job change, you should aim for a higher salary. Earning more money will make a difference to your life short term. More importantly, if you increase your salary today, your baseline will be higher when you negotiate salary on a future career move. Improving your salary with each job change is very powerful. It’s what will eventually allow you to be the youngest of your friends to buy a house. You’ll also be driving the nicest car and spoiling your family. That’s not something you should apologise for, if you’ve earned it.
You should accept decreasing your salary IF AND ONLY IF the new position is your dream job. Even then, chances are that you can get that same dream job at another company for a higher pay though, so you might want to check tools like glassdoor.com to find out if you can get paid more elsewhere. It might take quite some Patience to start your search again to aim for a similar position with a higher salary, but it’s worth it!
Also, people might tell you that to move to a specific position, you HAVE to take a pay cut. People have told me that, and yet I never took a pay cut, in fact I’ve always consistently increased my salary every time I changed jobs, and so can you. Be skeptical of those who tell you what you can’t do.
Join the new company in your new role, rise through the ranks as much as you can internally, then repeat this whole process.
Each of these steps has its own detailed chapter in my full Accomplished Achiever Blueprint. If applied correctly, they can quickly get you to the point where you’re earning 6 figures or more, setting company strategy, getting back control of your life, and feeling like you’ve “made it”.
Hopefully this post gives you enough ideas to start working on on your own, but if you feel that you’d like help tailoring each of these steps to your own personal situation and goals, then I’d be happy to chat with you. In fact, I’m currently offering Free one-on-one Consultations to help you draw up your own Career Advancement Plan, and identify the quick wins that can help you accelerate your career in a matter of weeks.
So if you’d like, click here to sign up for your Free Consultation, and I’d be delighted to help you set your goals and reach them quickly.