So often we talk about career pathways.
There’s no shortage of books, outlining how some of the most powerful business leaders got to where they are. Their networks and habits and mindsets that sent them straight to the top.
But what we don’t often talk about are those first steps. What was the first big promotion that set them up for success for the rest of their careers?
If luck is when preparation meets opportunity, what were the steps taken to prepare those visionaries for when they would ultimately have the opportunity to cash out on their success?
Find out how to get promoted — specifically, getting that first big promotion — to help set up your career pathway.
Pathways Not Pipelines
We were recently chatting with TikTok career influencer Mary Nice, who kind of blew our minds with a nugget of wisdom:
“We don’t have a pipeline problem, we have a pathway problem.”
When we talk about the lack of women in leadership positions, the problem isn’t always failing to hire women at the top — it’s failing to promote women from the bottom up. If your ultimate goal is to serve on a board, or if you have the c-suite in your sights, you may want to start thinking about your first big promotion.
How to Get Promoted
Have you been waiting for your first big promotion to no avail?
If you want to make your next move, you may need to do a little leg work to make your way into the running. Here are some tips on how to get promoted — especially if you’re struggling for that first big promotion.
Ask for a Pathway
One of the hardest parts about making it to the top is that there isn’t always a clear pathway to get there.
Sure, there are a lot of aggressive paths to get to the top. If you’re spending a year at each position before aggressively climbing the next rung, it’ll be obvious to others what you’re planning.
But you don’t need to take a super aggressive approach if you want to make manager, director, or VP within the next 5-to-10 years. And you can’t make your moves in a vacuum, either.
Ask others about their career trajectories. Tell your boss you want to move up (not laterally) and anyone else who will listen. Ask others about their career paths to understand what yours might look like too.
And above all, make sure your superiors know you want to be promoted. You can’t be considered for something you don’t ask for.
If you want to find out how to get promoted, pay attention to other promotions. Whenever someone is promoted at your organization, try to learn how it happened.
While not every career path is a cookie-cutter copy of the next, you may be able to glean some information as to why workers are being promoted over others (and what skills your company values in leadership).
Make an effort to figure out their career goals and how they achieved them.
Develop Soft Skills
More and more employers are requiring workers to gain soft skills, anyway — even the low-level ones. It’s one of the biggest workplace trends for 2022.
If you’re planning on sitting on a board or in a c-suite office, you’re going to need these skills. And since they’re now considered a requirement anyway, why not make an effort to hone them?
Soft skills are often used across industries. Unlike technical skills, these skills aren’t industry-specific. Some of the most coveted soft skills include:
Emotional intelligence Empathy Compassion Communication Organization Adaptability Dependability
When you’re a leader, you need to be able to do your job effectively — while managing teams who work for you. When you’re considering your personal branding, add soft skills to your to-learn list.
Find a Sponsor
No one gets to the top by themselves. Two pathways to promotion that have been utilized for years are mentorship and sponsorship.
Mentorship programs are common in most formal office settings, pairing a leader with a lower-level employee with leadership potential. Mentors usually help their mentees reach certain career milestones.
They may help you get to the next level or through a specific program. But once you’ve met that milestone, the bond may be severed to allow you some space to grow.
Sponsorships are also common and tend to be more informal. Whereas your mentor may only assist you at a certain point in your career, your sponsor may help you get to the top. While this person is usually someone who works at your place of employment, it could be any leader in your industry.
And if you’re struggling to find out how to get promoted? To find a mentor or a sponsor? Join Rise. We can help you widen your network and find mutually beneficial relationships that will elevate you to the next level in your career.