How Do You Prepare for Career Advancement?

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It's a rare individual who begins a new job without any thought as to their career path going forward. Research shows that the average worker only remains at the same job for about four years before moving on. But progressing to a new role and the next level requires some career planning.

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Know What’s Expected of You

Previous generations tended to remain with the same company until retirement, working their way up internal ladders, and that's still an option. It requires a firm understanding of what your current employer expects of you, then meeting those expectations regularly, year to year. There's no harm in asking your supervisor, and they'll probably appreciate your initiative if you do. And you might want to ask about possible advancement opportunities while you're at it.

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Identify Your Company’s Goals

You have your career goals, and your company has its own goals as well. Determine what they are, then work toward both.

Maybe your company wants to reach a certain demographic, such as senior citizens. Do some research on your own time to find out what might lure these clients or customers to come to your company and what they're looking for in a service. Then turn your research over to your boss.

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Take a continuing education or professional development course in an area that's important to your employer. You don't have to trudge off to a brick-and-mortar institution. Online courses should work just fine to enhance your skill set. Make sure your company is aware that you're doing it.

Consider also:How to Choose the Best Continuing Education

Volunteer for work that isn't necessarily in your job description if it furthers your company's goals. Learning new skills is never a waste of time. It marks you as a team player with a solid work ethic, someone who's willing to take an extra step now and again, traits that play a big part in advancement. But don't take time from your regular workload – that always comes first.

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Use (or Build) Your Network

Don't overlook the significant benefits of networking when it comes to career development, both within your company and with others you might want to move on to in an advanced role.

This not only requires making new, valuable contacts, but also maintaining old ones as well. This means staying in touch, even if you're not embarking on a job search right now. Send cards on birthdays or anniversaries. Text or email occasionally with information or news they might be interested in. Stay on their radar. You never know when you might need them, and you don't want to come out of the blue after years of silence to request an introduction or recommendation.

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Consider also:How Much Networking Is Too Much?

Make Your Job Your Priority

Ask yourself who you would promote if your choice was between that girl over there yawning in the corner, or the guy who truly cares about the company's mission, all their other qualifications being equal. You want to be that guy.

This requires showing up for work alert and on your game. You don't want that yawn to sneak out because you were up all night for one reason or another. Get adequate sleep. You don't have to sacrifice work-life balance, but save the hard partying, socializing and hobby pursuits until after your workweek is done. Eat right. Get some exercise. Successful people take care of themselves so they can give their jobs their all.

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The Pros and Cons of Job-Hopping

There's no guarantee that your company will advance you, even if you have an excellent plan for moving ahead. On one hand, frequent job-hopping can look bad on your resume. It can mark you as uncommitted or even irresponsible rather than dedicated.

But the World Economic Forum indicates that remaining with the same company and not looking for new opportunities can mean earning ​50 percent​ less over the course of your entire career. Make a career change if your chances of career advancement in your current job seem small and your position isn't aligning with your long-term goals. The lack of opportunity in your current position might have nothing to do with you, but rather with the company's own goals and management style.

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