Decide what it is you want and go after it
The answer to this question is actually quite complex as there are many factors at play here, some are obvious, some not so obvious and some of which may unfortunately be out of your control.
To start with, Qualifications are extremely important and a good place to begin to lay solid career foundations. What we have learned to date at Elk Recruitment is continued learning and gaining strong meaningful up to date qualifications are key to progressing your career especially the more senior you go. Rightly or wrongly most employers in today’s markets expect qualifications when taking on new employees. So if you’re going to embark on a career, identify the qualification that best suits your area of interest and set the wheels in motion to achieve it, but do get advice if you are unsure as to the best way forward.
Your main aim should be to acquire a good solid primary degree in your chosen field. If you are in a technical discipline and you have achieved your technical qualification, try also to gain a qualification in the soft studies to round of your offering such as supervisory management or HR. This will keep you on par with the pack leaders coupled with a certification in possibly Six Sigma or Lean.
Remember the higher you go in your career, generally people skills are just if not more important than your technical ones.
Qualifications are only a foundation or entry point to allow you to begin to progress your career. As you enter employment you will quickly see that the skills you have learned in college on their own are certainly not enough to entitle you to progress ‘You may read volumes on swimming and jump into a pool and drown’.
The working environment is complex and there are a lot more factors to be considered and mastered before you take that next step. Study the environment you are working in and the method used by the organisation to get your assigned tasks done, master your part of the process and approve upon it, but measure, document & communicate the results. Along with other team members, try to learn how to master other areas of the process without of course affecting your current responsibilities and again try and improve upon them also.
What you are trying to do here is to become a practical individual that understands the whole process of the organisation. You want to become an ‘A player’ an asset to the organisation, who does their job effective continually but is always working away in the background to improve results and help out in other areas of the business when required. Do this and you will quickly get noticed, but remember all notice may not be positive.
Probably one of the more complex and important areas of your development to master. But the rule is simple, work hard, help out when and where you can, be genuine and positive in your communication and listen to others. Stand up for what you believe in without causing offence and remember if you need to have choice words with someone do so in private & praise in public.
Is that it?
Unfortunately, not, as we said from the outset some things are out of your control and just when you think that you have mastered all of the above you get overlooked for a promotion. This is normal, get used to it but resilience, commitment, performance and constant focus on your goal in tandem with your practical, academic and people skills will ultimately progress your career. Keep at it, if you keep knocking eventually the door will open to you.