Building a career in the corporate world can seem like an attractive prospect in terms of financial stability and development prospects, but it also comes with some strings attached that people sometimes fail to pay attention to. It’s not as easy to move up the ladder as it may seem from the outside, and you will need to hone some important skills in order to make it in the long run. If you have what it takes, it can definitely be a great opportunity – but don’t expect that simply doing your job and keeping a low profile will be enough to get you through the ranks. Quite on the contrary, you’ll often need to put a lot of work into promoting yourself if you want to be truly successful.
Learn to Market Yourself
The best way to approach this is to treat yourself as a product. It can sound harsh, but it’s the best mindset to have for moving up in a world like this. And what do you do to make a product successful? You learn how to market it properly. Just like any other employee, you have your strong sides as well as your weak ones, so make sure to focus on the former in the way you present yourself. This extends to pretty much every aspect of the job, from the way you write your resume, to the way you talk to your boss, your direct reports, and everyone else in the company (and even out of it). And depending on how high you currently are on that ladder, you may sometimes have to take this outside of the workplace environment as well. Posting memes on Twitter might not be the best way to present yourself when you have an easily identifiable name that’s linked to a public-facing part of the organization.
It’s a competitive world, and one where everyone is constantly doing their best to get noticed. This means that you can’t expect to move up by simply doing your job. Everyone else who’s striving for a promotion is doing that too, but they’re also putting a lot of effort into actually getting noticed. You should do your best to take on tasks that nobody has asked you to do (especially tasks that nobody seems to want to take on in the first place), and be as active as possible with your suggestions. Don’t fall for the trap of ignoring an opportunity just because nobody has asked you to do that task directly. Show some initiative and take matters into your own hands.
Understand Your Job Better Than Your Superiors
Even the best manager can’t always understand every aspect of the job they’re doing – that’s why they rely on their direct reports for that. This is a good opportunity to extend on the above point, and show some proactive tendencies by demonstrating that you’re on top of your game. Don’t be afraid to overshadow your supervisor in this regard. As long as you don’t try to present yourself like you’re actively trying to take their job, this will be seen as a positive factor in your long-term development.
Mistakes happen, and just because you’ve messed up doesn’t make you a bad employee. What does make you one, though, is refusing to own those mistakes and learn from them. Avoiding responsibility might save you in the short term, but it’s going to cause lots of problems in the future when people start to put the pieces together. This also applies to positive factors in your job. If you’ve implemented something major and complex, don’t be afraid to stand behind it and take full ownership of your results. Don’t let others take credit for your hard work, even when it might seem like the safer option in terms of distributing the workload.
Keep Your Resume Presentable
Always keep an eye on your resume and think about how you can improve it. Even if you have a degree, it’s never too late to get an additional one if you think it can expand your range of options. Getting an MBA, for example, can greatly boost your chances in the long term, and it can open lots of new opportunities to you. Just take a look at this article for some tips on how to make the most of that. If your job relies heavily on modern tech, you might want to brush up on those skills as well. The IT world is quite friendly and open to newcomers these days, so don’t be afraid to jump right in if you feel like it can help your chances.
Brush Up on Your Communication Skills
Having the skills necessary to progress isn’t the only factor that will determine your success in this world. You must also learn how to communicate with those around you in a way that favors you and presents you in the best light possible. This can be more difficult than you might assume, especially if you’re coming in from another line of work where it’s not that necessary to constantly think about what you’re saying. If you don’t feel confident enough in your communication abilities, don’t be afraid to take some courses on the matter. There is plenty of information available on the topic online, and it won’t take too much of your time to learn the basics and start applying them in your everyday life. This can also help you outside of work as well, so don’t underestimate the importance of doing it as early as you can in your career.
You’ll also have to keep that momentum going. Even if you’ve made a good impression in the beginning, you can’t afford to assume that this is the way things will continue in the future. Once you’ve got the ball rolling, you must keep studying your performance and looking for ways to improve it in every aspect. That will help you get the most out of your career in the corporate world, and it will also teach you some valuable lessons about presenting yourself to others in general.