Advance Your Career Onward and Upward

Much like a shark, if your career doesn’t keep moving forward, it will suffer and eventually die. But unlike a shark, your career may not move forward on its own.

Unless you’re at the elite level in both talent and luck, you’ll most likely have to drive your career forward through intentional strategies, actions, and efforts.

Here are some of the best for you to try:

Recognize the Good Stuff

Start to advance your career by taking stock of where you are now. Identify the most satisfying part(s) of what you’re currently doing. For example, consider whether you like or dislike:

  • The people part(s) – your feelings when you’re first finding out about new people and figuring out your best moves with or for them, as well as the feelings you get back from these people as you interact with them.
  • The thinking and planning part(s) – your feelings when you’re analyzing a new work situation, when you’re identifying steps you can and can’t take to improve that situation, and when you’re planning all you will try to accomplish as well as the best ways you can assemble the resources you will need to accomplish that.
  • The action part(s) – your feelings when you’re implementing the plan: out in the field, down in the trenches, actually doing the work, encountering the difficulties, and surmounting the obstacles that make your work more challenging than a walk in the park.

The goal is ideally to drive your career forward in directions that retain all of the good parts your career currently delivers and also add even more of what satisfies you.

Go Fishing

Continue to advance your career by testing the waters and seeing what other opportunities may be available to you.

As in fishing, you must find suitable places that are likely to contain what you’re looking for. In the context of career advancement, this could be a specialized career path, a company, an industry, or a city that seems to offer a nice range of acceptable opportunities.

One good method is to brainstorm a list of new possibilities you can pursue that would mark a step in the direction you want your career to advance. Explore each one of these possibilities to see how well it might expand on and add to the good stuff your career already delivers.

As in fishing, you need the proper equipment. In the context of career advancement, this could require you to gain more knowledge or experience, obtain a certification or license, or acquire specific tools and skills that enable you to do the work you want to  do.

As in fishing, you must offer some form of bait to entice the opportunities to come your way. In the context of career advancement, this could mean volunteering to do the kind of work that interests you, or taking a step or two down from your current level in order to gain a footing on a new ladder that can lead you higher.

As in fishing, you must be patient about waiting for an opportunity to arise, and skillful about landing each one that does. In the context of career advancement, this becomes easier when you craft the process of casting your bait and waiting for a nibble so it feels as enjoyable as possible. It’s also important to learn how to convert tentative inquiries into strong relationships and solid offers of “Please get involved with us.”

Repeat Until Satisfied

Keep driving your career advancement by working through each of the possibilities you brainstormed. When a possibility seems promising, refine and redirect your fishing efforts to explore it more deeply.

Note that your original list of career advancement possibilities will probably evolve as you work through it. This is because your new experiences will help you find out more about where various possibilities can lead. You’re also likely to develop ideas for additional new possibilities based on your experiences with each of these “fishing trips.”

Remember that your career advancement is more likely to consist of steady progress rather than a handful of major leaps forward. When those happen, they’re great. But when they don’t, you can still drive your career onward and upward through these and other intentional strategies, actions, and efforts.

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