How To Rise To The Top Quickly Early In Your Career
Just starting your career? You might be looking all the way up the ladder thinking, It’s going to take my entire life to get up there. For some people in certain professions, that’s true, and in many industries, the concept of “paying your dues” is still very much alive. But what about those who don’t want to wait five years to get their first promotion? What about the dreamers who see more for their lives than neatly following along those ladder rungs? Here are a few pointers on rising to the top quickly while also deserving that boost.
1. Ask educated questions, and ask the right people.
When it comes to your career, asking the right questions does matter and can distinguish you from others. The key is not to ask questions just to take up space, but to do your research and generate questions that come out of that research. Most of all, make sure to ask the right person instead of defaulting to your boss. That means that if you have a serious question about the start of the company, maybe consider asking your CEO directly. If that’s not possible, ask the next appropriate person who could provide a helpful answer. The point is to have a few well-researched talking points with some big players in your company.
2. Attend every meeting, conference and workshop you can.
Involvement is the easiest way for someone to notice that you’re completely invested in the company you work for. Though you may not have the authority to attend many high-level meetings, take a shot at asking your boss if you could sit in on some brainstorming meetings, and if they say yes, come prepared with ideas… just in case. If you have the opportunity to go to any conferences, seminars or workshops pertaining to your company or even just your industry, take it. You may come back with some verified information that could make your company more successful, and you could be the one to bring the new concept to your team.
3. Master what you have in front of you before asking for more work.
Yes, we know we just told you to get your hands into anything and everything, but that’s on a strict knowledge basis, not a let’s-switch-jobs-from-sales-to-marketing sort of deal. While you should learn as much new and useful information as possible, make sure that the core of your job is mastering the tasks assigned to you before asking to tackle something else. Keeping focused and putting all of your effort toward what’s in front of you will show your superiors that you prioritize getting the job done right instead of rushing through it to get to the next big thing.
4. Get yourself a professional mentor.
Whether you find your mentor through personal connections, past jobs or at a networking event, having one is important if you want to go far (and quickly). You want someone more experienced than you who can show you the ropes, which could give you a big advantage over your peers who don’t have mentors. What’s even better about having a mentor is that this person could help connect you to people who see the potential in you to take on more responsibility. Keep in mind, though, that your sole purpose in finding a mentor should be to become stronger in your career overall and not to use this person for all that he or she is worth to climb the ladder. Genuinely listen to this person and intend to build a solid professional relationship without leeching off his or her knowledge.
5. Know when your experience in your current role or at your company has been “maxed out.”
If we could preach this through a megaphone to the entire world, we would. While it depends on what industry you’re in, you should be acutely aware of when you have put in everything you could and learned everything you could in your role and at your current company. If you come to work feeling like you’ve utilized all of your resources and now feel stagnant in your career, it’s time to move on. For example, if you’re at a traditional company that doesn’t promote anyone for five years but you’ve already learned from what’s available to you in one year, you need to look for more challenging positions — and possibly at other companies. Having this type of intuition can get you farther sooner than those who stay complacent wherever they are.
6. Sell yourself well.
Networking your ass off is going to be crucial to climbing the ladder in a shorter period of time. We’re not just talking about attending the occasional event. Maximize your LinkedIn potential, make sure your online presence is appealing to potential employers and know how to utilize your networking skills even when you can’t do it in person. The key is to have your bases covered in person and online. Internally, make sure your boss knows how hard you’re working and, more importantly, the results of your hard work. There are ways to do this without looking like a huge jerk, so learn those ways and execute them.
7. Be a star coworker.
Above all else, employers and bosses are drawn to positive, contributing members of a team, not those who just like to brag about themselves and try to bypass all the other hardworking members of their company. Make sure that you’re putting your team and company first when you’re on the job.