Is 2014 the year that you’re going to get noticed by company leaders, secure that big promotion or finally land that dream job? If this is the year you’re really going to supercharge your career, then put a plan in place now to ensure that you’re taking all the right steps to make it happen.
Here’s how you can set yourself up for advancement in 2014 and take your career to the next level:
Set stretch goals
To start, think about what it is you want to accomplish and if you can push those goals even further. “Set stretch goals, but don’t bite off more than you can chew,” says Roy Cohen, career coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.” “For example, [your goals may be] to expand skill-based knowledge, raise your professional visibility, get a promotion or find a new job. This can happen in a variety of ways: by taking classes, getting a certification or writing an article for an industry publication.”
Become an expert
Michelle Riklan, professional résumé writer and career coach, says that whether you’re looking to position yourself for future internal or external opportunities, you can heighten your profile and gain more clout by becoming an expert in your field. “Experts share information and comment on industry news/trends,” Riklan says. “Spending a little time each day to communicate with your network and add your voice and opinion regarding other experts’ materials will increase your visibility, keep you top of mind and create the perception/reality that you are ‘in the know.’” Riklan recommends using sites such as LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook and Twitter to get your name out there and be heard by individuals who may be interested in what you have to say.
Find a mentor
Every company has its internal politics and organizational challenges, so seeking out someone who is well established within your company can help you navigate any potential roadblocks to your advancement. “It helps to have the perspective and protection of an insider who can also serve as a role model for you,” Cohen says. “There are an infinite number of potential landmines in all organizations. Seek out an individual who, by virtue of his or her achievements and success, can offer you insight and feedback.”
Establish relationships with influencers
Beyond finding a mentor within your company, you should also look to other influencers within your industry from whom you can learn. “[Influencers] are people who are in the loop with respect to industry trends, opportunities and career insights,” Cohen says. “Don’t approach them for a job. If you approached me with that request, I’d say no and so would they. Instead, view them as mentors or advisers who you reach out to for direction, perspective and ideas. Make sure they’re busy people … they’re more likely to have dynamic careers and have their hands in a range of initiatives.”
Align your goals with your company’s
“To inspire company/organization leadership that you have career advancement potential, it is best to align your goals with theirs,” says Aaron McDaniel, a corporate manager, entrepreneur, author and speaker. “Do all you can to make your team successful. Understand your boss’s goals/objectives/mission, and do everything to make him or her succeed at it — and make them look good in the process. Being a leader is [about] understanding your skills and strengths and focusing them on the success of the team. When it comes time for promotions — and bonuses and raises — this is the kind of thing that inspires people to believe in and support you.”
Do the work of the job you want
As the saying goes, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” The same idea applies to the work you do. If you want that promotion, do the work of that higher-level position. “Start to look and act like someone who is at the next level up,” McDaniel says. “Dress the part, and find opportunities to exemplify the characteristics of those successful at the next level. Ask your boss [if you can] back him/her up, so you get the feeling of what their job is really like — both so you confirm that it is something you are interested in and to show you can handle the responsibility.”