In business, those who typically “get ahead” have three main traits in common: an impressive range of experience, the right educational degree for high-level employment and esteemed professionalism that stands out on a daily basis. Sure, people enjoy stories about nonconformists who drop out of college and manage to start highly successful businesses. But the truth usually involves a few hidden facts, such as the bohemian’s well-connected, wealthy family. Unfortunately, for most of us, the key to success lies in pursuing a straightforward track and rising to the top in a more conventional manner.
Make Lateral Movements to Increase Skills and Contacts
Because the world of business is becoming increasingly complex, lateral movements are often necessary to secure a wide set of skills. There are several benefits to seeking new employment at the same pay grade:
- In many fields, it is an asset to have experience working in several departments across multiple companies.
- There is an opportunity to build valuable skills that will be an asset later in your career.
- A new team will broaden the social business network.
- A lateral move may help with finding a supportive manager who will push promotions, getting you to a new level.
- The resume will show diversity in work experience, initiative and self-confidence.
For those engaged in a career in which executive work requires a broad range of skills, lateral moves could prove to be indispensable in a steady climb up the corporate ladder.
Pursue Certifications, Trainings or Advanced Degrees
Over the years, while advancing in workplace experience, it is critical to continue pursuing higher education. These days, many professionals gain a master’s degree before entering the business world, but five or ten years later, that advanced degree may be somewhat dated. Or, it may not fit an adjusted career goal in a precise way. There is no point in pushing one’s way to the top only to experience anxiety over a missing or obsolete degree. Make sure to have the degree that is standard for the desired position. If the degree has already been attained, but is dated, use certifications or advanced training to satisfy any qualifications you do not excel at.
Be the Problem Solver and the Go Getter
With solid work experience and a conclusive education, the final part of the equation is this: be a go-getter. Choose to be a positive person who solves problems and goes after new challenges. If the team has to work late to achieve a deadline, make sure to put in that extra time. If there is a chance to take on a new project that will clearly benefit the company, take it on. If there are people within the department who are not easy to work with, be the person who manages to skirt any difficulties they create. Use challenging situations to highlight leadership qualities and other soft skills. Be the one who stands out as the go-to person.
Make the Climb to the Top
In today’s business world, the upward climb may seem more like a zigzag route. We are fortunate to live in a time when there are so many opportunities for learning and pursuing new objectives. Use the years spent climbing to the top to fully experience life. Executives enjoy challenges and seize new opportunities. Embrace this mindset at every stage along the ladder, and success can surely come your way.
Pete Kontakos contributes articles about leadership training and online colleges.