Getting a job is one thing and climbing the corporate ladder is another ballgame. It takes talent, strategy and hard work.
It is common to find folks who have occupied the same position for over five to 10 years! That is called career stagnation. You risk being vulnerable to your current employer as your transfer price (extra pay to leave your current job) lowers due to real or perceived limited experience.
The three secrets for your career progression are (i) Training, (ii) Exposure or Travel and (iii) Networking
Does your job provide you with opportunities to gain new technical and life skills? Every business is now driven by technology. Without adequate training, you risk being obsolete. In addition to specific work skills, you must attain general skills. It is good to learn about your company’s bespoke technologies, policies, and processes, etc. However, such training won’t make you special or improve your transfer price. Your job should give you critical skills like leadership, communication, and general ICT security. Note that success in your career should error on being externally driven than internal. I mean, your employer’s major competitors should know of your existence in terms of the business they lose due to your brilliance for example as a top designer or marketing team leader.
Tip: check your corporate strategy and see which product or department is identified as high growth or cash cow. Ensure you are in that department. For example, if you work in a bank, being in on-line and mobile banking department is a good bet. Banks are being threatened by new technologies like mobile money, m- banking and e-banking. They are looking at integration. How is your current job helping your employer fix their worries and future growth priority areas? If you are in audit, which skills are you gaining beyond the traditional to ensure you can provide assurance in such new areas? Keep being relevant.
Exposure or travel
They say, seeing is believing. And they are right. By far, the best education is when you travel and see how others do it.
Before my first visit to Kampala city, a neighbor who had just returned to the village for New Year’s holidays told us a story of “a door which opens itself when you get in front of it.” We told him off to stop lying. Considering the underdevelopment in our village, we could not visualize a thing like that.
You can imagine how my minds were ‘opened up’ a year later when I visited the city for the first time and went in front of a door that indeed opened itself for me! I was surprised and almost ran away thinking it was a magician wanting to swallow me. Exposure is the best teacher. It made me believe that everything is possible.
So, how is your current job giving you opportunities to travel the world to see and believe? As an ICT security expert, I have travelled and seen how what many think is impossible is possible with technology. I know how easy it is to hack into most of the corporate systems remotely which their CEO’s or IT folks have convinced themselves that is impossible. I have seen how someone can take over your emails, read them before they arrive in your inbox and decide which ones you can receive! The point is your job should give you an opportunity to travel to other countries and companies to study or benchmark.
This will increase your exposure, expand your networks and give you more opportunities to showcase your talent. If you don’t see travel opportunities coming your way in your current job at least once within three years of working, seek advice from your supervisor. Get off your chair and seek the opportunities to travel!
And lastly, network.
Does your job give you opportunities to meet new people? Networking is about expanding your social circles. As Charlie Tremendous Jones once said, “you will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” And guess what, he is damn right.
Identify the places where your company’s and competitors top honchos retreat, and be there. Let them see your face often. People give opportunities to people whom they know and can trust.
In my next issue, I will show you how to exploit the opportunities once you get them. There are folks who are always traveling but don’t know what to do when they are out there. Also, know how to make the most of your training and gaining from your networks. You may find my book on Amazon.com a great resource. Read it!