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Big goals? How to get ahead quicker in your career

BY: SGI|21 February 2019
BLOG| My future career

Whether you’re a job-juggling ‘slasher’, hustler, a freelancer, ‘gigger’, corporate go-getter, self-employed or in a small start-up, most of us are striving to increase the pace of our career progression. There are numerous ways to do so, from continuous learning to simply being brave enough to raise a hand and ask for an opportunity.

Here are eight top ways to get ahead, faster:

1. Make it clear what you want:

Economics professor Linda Babcock found men are four times more likely to ask for a raise than women. But a more recent Harvard study negates this, finding that women are just as likely to ask, but less likely to succeed. Suffice to say there are lots of contrasting studies, but the bottom line is that if you know you’re ready for more responsibility, put up your hand and ask for it, irrespective of the gender you identify with. Prep thoroughly beforehand and be prepared to prove the consistency of your performance. If your company doesn’t provide you with a clear growth plan, ask for one. If there are no growth opportunities for you, you’ll need to consider your options carefully.

2. Find your niche:

What’s your unique selling point? What differentiates your skills? Find the talents you excel at and nurture these, finding every chance to prove your value in a company context.

3. Set big goals:

Most of us glaze over when someone asks us ‘where do you see yourself in five years’? But, it’s a good question to answer. Get into a Zen space and really think about where you want to be in a month, a year, 5 years… And then, set the goals to get there. Setting the goals will help drive the behaviours you need to succeed.

4. Don’t get complacent:

It’s good to be stretched and it’s often motivating to be a little stressed. You want to be in a position where the challenge exceeds your skills, but, critically, is still attainable.

5. Avoid ‘Peter’s Plateau’:

The Peter Principle upholds that you’ll be promoted to your level of ‘incompetence’ – aka, you’ll keep getting promoted as long as you prove competent, until you get promoted to a level at which you’re incompetent. And there you’ll stay for the rest of your career. To escape ‘Peter’s Plateau’ you’ll need to keep bridging the skill gaps that could render you incompetent. To do so, you’ll need constructive mentorship, the opportunity to learn continuously, the chance to fail often, the skills to problem-solve, and lots of on-the-ground experience.

6. Find a mentor:

Find someone you admire in your industry and ask them how they got to where they are. Think of the current challenges you’re facing and ask them how they dealt with similar scenarios.

7. Get involved in the culture:

Establish yourself as a leader by getting involved and building your visibility across the business. That means volunteering at company events, helping to establish a strong internal culture and always making yourself available to assist others. Be generous with your time and knowledge.

8. Consider a course:

An online course could be a good way to bridge your skill gaps to ready yourself for a new role. If you’re self-employed, online is an ideal way to learn while you earn. If you’re an employee, be sure to alert your company about your desire to study. Firstly, it’ll show the seriousness of your intention to upskill yourself. Secondly, your employer might want to sponsor you as part of the company’s talent management plan.

Read 5 reasons why online is a smart life choice

The Stellenbosch Graduate Institute offers numerous online courses to help foster career progression. For more information, visit SGI.co.za


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