Whether you have just started out, or you’ve been sitting at the same desk for far too long, feeling stagnant in your career can be discouraging. As an IT professional, you have big ideas and valuable skills, so what’s gone wrong?
You aren’t alone.
Many people have felt stunted in their career growth in the past or still do. The good news is that by beginning your search for how to grow your IT career, you’re already showing promise for career advancement.
Seeking career advice is one of the best ways to get started, and it’s one of our tips for ambitious corporate professionals. Need a career advice helpline? Check out these other ten ways to climb the ladder.
1. Never Stop Learning
Can you expect to advance in your career if you aren’t also advancing your skillset? Sure, you may have learned new things and grown in your current position. Those skills, however, are for your current position.
If you want to reach new heights, you need to start preparing yourself for what those heights require. You need to leave your comfort zone and push yourself to become qualified for the position you want. You don’t need to know how to do everything for that position, but you should be able to show competence and ambition.
People offering job opportunities are often impressed when people take the time outside of their careers to pursue continued education. Getting certified in new areas or achieving a degree shows your commitment to your personal and professional growth.
We are all lifelong learners, and the more you embrace learning new things, the more well-rounded you will become. If you are presented with opportunities to learn skills that aren’t necessary at present, you should embrace these opportunities. It could open doors down the road.
Always remember: A skill that seems irrelevant could be unexpectedly valued in a new job position. With this truth in mind, you could be building a very impressive resume.
2. Don’t Undervalue Colleagues
Often times, people shoot for the stars when networking to advance their careers. It’s not a bad idea to show face and get a conversation in with a superior, or even a top-dog, but don’t forget your peers.
One of the most valuable aspects of your career will be the people you work with every day. These coworkers are accessible, empathize with your career position, and are on their own path of advancement. Take time to work on these professional relationships.
You never know where these peers will end up in their careers. If they advance before you do, and they’ve had a great experience working with you, they are likely to help you find open positions or speak highly of you to others.
Even if they don’t advance before you, they can act as another set of eyes and ears for opportunities that may fit you better than it fits them. Every new professional relationship is a great opportunity that you shouldn’t pass up.
3. Shine in Your Current Position
Of course, your peers will not look out for you or speak highly of you if you aren’t a great fit in your current job. It’s great to have a network, but you need to prove to your network that you’re worth the extra effort. If a peer recommends you to an open position, they want to know that their word isn’t tarnished by your poor performance when hired.
In all your efforts to advance, never neglect your current position. Show up early, be competent, stay reliable, and always be focused. Being mindful and supporting your peers in team efforts will make them remember you when it matters the most.
It also never hurts to stay positive, respectful, and honest in any position. You want your peers and your supervisors to feel relieved when you show up to work every day!
Not only will your peers love working with you, but your boss will notice your hard work. They will be more open to offering you promotions or recommending new opportunities.
4. Give More Than You Take
Always walking around with your hand out might score you an opportunity once, but it won’t help your network flourish. If you are always looking for help, but you never provide any help, others won’t see you as valuable.
This principle applies to every aspect of your career. In teamwork, you need to give as much of yourself as you’re expecting your peers to give to a project. If you’re not providing value to your boss, they won’t feel the need to offer anything back to you.
If you’re looking for advancement opportunities, you need to stay on the lookout for opportunities for your peers as well. Offering help and advice to your coworkers will make them more likely to think of you when they come across new opportunities.
Being valuable to others will also help bolster your rapport down the road when you advance. The people who work for you will be happy to provide value to someone they think also provides value and is a genuinely great worker.
5. See Mentorship Differently
Most people have one or two role models in mind, actively or passively, that they want to learn from. If you’re looking for career advice for women, for example, you may look up to successful women in CEO positions.
Instead, challenge yourself to see everyone as a mentor.
In practice, seeing everyone as a mentor means learning from other people’s mistakes and successes. It’s a great idea to ask for a coffee and a chat with some people you know can answer career advice questions, but that’s not the only way to learn.
Live your life, not someone else’s life. Pay attention to those around you, both peers and superiors, and see what they’re doing right and wrong in their positions. It’s always less stressful and time-consuming to learn from someone else’s mistakes rather than making them yourself.
If you receive feedback or criticism, no matter how much it stings or who it’s from, reflect on what’s been said. You may not always like to hear criticism, but there can be a grain of truth in even the wildest of accusations. Mine for that diamond hidden in all of your interactions.
6. Plan Security So You Can Take Risks
Even the most successful people can fall into hard times. Being successful involves taking risks, big and small. This reality doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be prepared in the case of trouble.
Take a cue from some of the richest and most famous entrepreneurs: be money-smart. Save money and invest to ensure both an emergency fund and passive income.
You need to start now, even if you don’t plan on taking risks. Sudden emergencies and loss of income can hit anyone at any time. Knowing that you are financially stable enough to survive, at least for a period of time, can greatly relieve the burden of what would otherwise be a full-blown tragedy.
There are many books you can rent from your local library, buy online, or download for free from people who have figured out the best ways to plan for success.
Having that security will open you up to taking risks whenever those opportunities suddenly arise.
7. Take Responsibility for Setbacks
People who focus too much on the past, including regrets and mistakes, have a very hard time moving forward. If you are constantly putting the blame on your coworkers, boss, or other people in your personal life, you will never be able to address the issues that are holding you back.
If you are frequently late to work, or rarely finish projects on time, you can’t expect to advance in your career. It’s common to blame your kids or your coworkers for these faults, and they may share some blame, but you need to take responsibility for yourself.
Making lifestyle changes to address issues will do much more to improve your work habits than making excuses and blaming others will.
See a doctor or a therapist if your career is being hindered by health issues. Try adding exercise, meditation, or quiet time alone to your schedule if you need an outlet for stress. If you lack energy or motivation, try to pinpoint what is draining you.
Whatever it is, look for solutions and implement them right away.
The longer you wait to take action, the less of a chance your career has at growing and the more time will be wasted being unhappy.
8. “Dress” for Your Dream Position
When people hear the phrase, “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have,” they often think of wearing an expensive suit to a minimum wage position. This phrase goes deeper than the surface!
Not only should you make sure to physically present yourself professionally at work, but you should behave professionally as well. If you want a leadership position, you need to act like a leader in all you do.
Be a player that the team would suffer without and work harder than those around you. Be a mentor for those looking for advice or a role model. Be confident, but remember to stay humble, too.
If you notice issues at work, break away from the notion that fixing them isn’t in your job description. If you want to advance, you should take it upon yourself to offer solutions in the way you would as a superior.
If peers and superiors start to see you as a leader with value, they will want you to advance.
9. Don’t Waste Time
You certainly don’t want to waste time blaming others and focusing on regret, but you also don’t want to waste time that could be better spent. This principle doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ever relax. It means that you should always spend your time intentionally.
If you’re spending time on a weekend with your partner or family, this isn’t wasted time. Think of this time as time spent bonding with your loved ones and mindfully feeding your mental health. Time spent caring for your children is helping them grow and be happy.
When you have free time on your own, you can spend some of that time to heal or improve your physical and mental health. If you have taken care of your loved ones and yourself, though, should you be spending the rest of your free time staring at a screen?
Everyone has unique needs, so you’ll never be able to find a perfect schedule pre-made for you. It’s up to you to prioritize aspects of your life and find that extra time you can spend advancing your career.
If you can wake up earlier, or go to bed later, you can use that extra time to take courses, learn new skills, and plan your schedule.
Every year, month, and week, you should be using the time to focus on your goals and the steps you’re taking to achieve them. Every step you take, big or small, can help add to your resume and improve your everyday efforts at work.
10. Do What You Love
Following your passions may seem counterproductive to your career advancement, but it’s not. Putting time and effort into hobbies, interests, and side hustles can turn out to be way more helpful than you think.
Having passions outside of your profession can help you network and be a well-rounded individual during interviews. You can better connect with coworkers and those offering job opportunities when you can bond over something other than work.
Hobbies and passions are also great outlets for stress, whether you do them on your own or involve friends and loved ones. They can help make life more fulfilling so that you can be your best at work.
Your interests can also lead to new skills that could unexpectedly be applied to your career. You can end up learning new things while enjoying yourself, such as a new technical skill to be applied in a higher-paying position.
Remember that career advancement is rarely a straight line to the top. People often start in one area only to realize they are better qualified in a different area, or they enjoy a different position more. Don’t limit yourself to where you’ve chosen to start. Be open to opportunities that could apply your skills in a new way.
Grow Your IT Career
Once you embrace this professional career advice to grow your IT career, you will start seeing significant changes in your professional life. The best career advice, though, doesn’t stop here.
If you’re looking to continue your steps towards advancement, start your journey today!
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