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December 18, 2013
From Entry Level to Executive: 3 Steps That Will Enhance Your Career Progression
 
The new year is coming soon! When you set your goals for 2014, be sure to include your career path in your list. Many people set personal goals and, unless they are very unhappy in their job and are ready to make a career transition, completely forget that aspect of their life altogether when goal setting. We tend to only focus on our career when something is wrong or when we want to make a change.
 
It is just as, if not more important, to establish career goals even if you plan to remain in your current industry or position, to ensure you achieve what you want to remain fulfilled, challenged, and successful. You career is not something to leave on auto-pilot. Just as any other investment in your portfolio, it requires management.
 
Begin to think about this now over the holidays. Is your career where you want it to be? If not, what goals do you want to set? The goals can be anything from financial goals to a new skill set you want to learn, a promotion, or broadening your job description so you are more challenged. Write down anything that comes to mind, then revisit the list to finalize it and narrow it down to three goals for next year. Once you establish them, under each one, come up with two action steps you will complete in the new year to move toward the goal. The advice below will help you get started moving up in your career, whether it is to the corner office or something completely different:

Get the lay of the land: Especially if you are out of the loop in your industry, which many people are, take an hour to research what is new and important in your industry and regarding your role within your field. Online resources enable you to easily perform research you could not before and have changed the landscape of career management in a positive way. We have more at our disposal than ever before.

Here are some steps to take: 1. Review colleagues’ LinkedIn profiles in your area — what specific skills or education do they have that you don’t? These are areas you may need to improve. 2. Look on Glassdoor.com for salary research to get a sense of your salary range and if it is commensurate with the marketplace. 3. On your home computer, take a peek at the job boards and relevant openings similar to your position, simply to see what is out there and find out what employers are looking for. 4. Attend the next association meeting for your industry and make a commitment to attend those at least once a quarter to learn about new trends in your field, but also expand and maintain your network should you need it down the line for your job search, or for help or ideas on your next project — to help you move up.
 
Assess your value: Based on the research above and your current skill set, education, and experience level, think about how valuable you are to your employer. Or how valuable you would be to a current employer. Do you need additional education? Is everyone else in your industry up on a certain type of software that you are not yet? Is there a skill set you currently possess but don’t use often so you have become rusty? Put that down to take an additional course next year.
 
Remember not to dive into education haphazardly, especially expensive classes. Clearly determine what education will bring value to your career and your portfolio. Vet it out and evaluate it first to be sure it is worthwhile by asking people in the industry, asking your boss, and looking on LinkedIn at your peers. An MBA, for example, will most likely garner you a higher salary. A certificate in Human Resources can move you up as well, but it varies depending on the industry, so vet it out for your field specifically. And realize specific education is not always needed or required to move up. Sometimes experience may be more valuable.

Find a mentor: Identifying someone in your field who can help you with your progression is critical. Having someone to bounce ideas off of who has more experience than you do in your industry and takes an interest in your growth is an incredibly valuable asset to nurture. The mentor can be internal or external to your organization. In some cases, an internal mentor can be more valuable  because they understand your company and what it takes to move up. Start there. If you find an external resource as well, go for it. There is nothing wrong with having two mentors, just ensure you manage them both effectively by utilizing their time wisely and giving back as much as possible.
 
Career change or climb the corporate ladder? Decide what your next step is: If you are wanting more, you need to think about whether a career change is the right thing, a different organization within the same industry in order to secure a promotion, or simply that you want to climb the corporate ladder. It depends on your situation and goals. Think outside the box. Sometimes a lateral move to a larger, growing organization where you can gain unique skills can actually be a step up. If there are no opportunities for upward mobility at your current company because it's a flat organization, or you're already at the top, you may need to make a career move to a different organization or even a different industry to move up. Sometimes you can move up by switching to a different company where you can obtain a higher-level position. Consider and evaluate all options. And don't forget to look in your backyard as well; if you don't ask for that promotion or next step, you'll never know!
 
Click here to watch a video from certified career coach Hallie Crawford about how to develop greater satisfaction in your current career.

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Guest Blogger Hallie Crawford is a certified career coach and founder of HallieCrawford.com. Her team of coaches help people find their dream job and make it a reality. She is regularly featured as an expert in the media including the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and US News & World Report. Visit her website at www.HallieCrawford.com for more information about her team's career coaching services. Set up a Complimentary Career Strategy Session with Hallie Crawford to get advice on your career goals. *Mention you saw us on Talent Zoo and receive a free bonus if you purchase a product or sign up for coaching.* http://www.HallieCrawford.com
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