The millennials, who now make up most of the workforce, have a vastly different conception of climbing the corporate ladder compared to their predecessors. While Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers might have thought it prudent to stay with one company until retirement, today’s youth advocate for freedom and flexibility in often hopping jobs.
Modern technologies for boosting productivity, ubiquitous connectivity, and a more competitive labor market (with more people reaching higher education) have eroded the myth of the one dream job.
Climbing the corporate ladder now seems more like navigating an ever-expanding web. And while the mindsets toward work and careers have changed, the principles for progression have stayed the same.
Network and Promote Yourself
This advice will likely come off as cliche to most and might even leave some bristled at the thought. However, in the world of freshly ironed ties and business dresses, you are responsible for asserting your intentions and promoting yourself at work. No one else will do it for you when climbing the corporate ladder.
Note down your significant achievements and keep them in a ready portfolio. It will help keep you inspired and motivated. At the same time, you can show it to hiring managers to highlight your contributions and successes. Learning to communicate professionally will give you an edge when you’re gunning for that promotion or interviewing for a new role.
A few might have winced at the mention of networking in the heading. This an understandable sentiment as some people associate it with playing office politics—an aspect of professional life that many prefer to do without. However, always remember that the game will be played whether you participate or not.
Don’t keep yourself in the dark. Forming genuine connections and fostering professional relationships with colleagues in your industry can open many opportunities and expand your horizons. The people high up on the corporate ladder know how to use it wisely, and you should too.
Find a Mentor and Keep Learning
If you want to make more strategic strides in climbing the corporate ladder, you will likely need to find a mentor in a position you eventually want to reach. It may seem daunting to ask people in much higher positions for guidance. But most leaders will be elated at the chance to help foster talent—especially if you’ve already proven yourself capable.
A mentor will guide you in the right direction and keep your own biases and misconceptions in check. They’ll also be a bountiful trove of knowledge and experience that you can learn from to avoid making the same mistakes they did.
With how fast the modern world changes, you must also make it a habit to learn new things constantly. Read a book. Finish that online course. A vast arsenal of skills and knowledge combined with the willingness to keep learning will give you a measure of insulation from skill obsolescence.
Hone Your Technical Skills and Put in the Work
Lastly, keep mastering the technical skills that make you valuable in your field. Get those certifications, finish that master’s degree—put in the work on those projects you’re assigned. Diligent and consistent effort will always be necessary if you want to move up the corporate ladder.
It would be best if you also learned to focus your efforts. Don’t waste your time trying to do everything. There will always be something you need to be doing at work—learning to distinguish what matters and what doesn’t is an important skill you should get if you don’t want to run around in circles.
Finally, every professional should also think about which rung of the corporate ladder they want to reach. You must make greater and greater sacrifices as you climb; knowing where you want to end before you start will save you a lot of stress and pain.
Some people might want to find the right balance between a high income and the freedom to spend time with their families; others might enjoy reaching the pinnacle of the corporate ladder. Learn where you stand and where you want to stand.