There’s no single definition of “getting ahead.” As Hallie Crawford writes for U.S. News & World Report, it might mean earning more money or transitioning into a different department. Regardless of definition, forward progress is something we all seek, and that’s what makes it difficult to obtain. There’s competition, and not everyone can wind up where they want.
One way to boost your chances, Crawford writes, is to think outside the box and be proactive. It may sound tricky, but by following the advice in Crawford’s excellent “4 Ways to Create Your Next Career Opportunity” tutorial, you just might use creative thinking and strategic planning to facilitate the kind of advancement you’ve been seeking. Read on for a summary of her advice.
1. Pinpoint a Need — Every organization has needs that aren’t being met. Crawford gives the example of a company that still uses a ton of paper and would benefit from going green. Identifying needs at your company might take a bit of research, and Crawford recommends looking at industry competitors and seeing what types of things they’re doing. Might any of their successful practices carry over to your organization?
2. Self-Evaluate — After you identify a need, take a good look at your skills and determine whether you’re in a position to address that need. One way to accomplish this: Take a gander at your resume and see whether you have talents and abilities you’re not presently putting to use. Crawford gives the example of a sales employee with a writing background using his or her wordsmithing abilities to craft a companywide best-practices newsletter that might eventually lead to a job in the marketing department. “Next to each entry on your idea list, write down what skill set you have that could make you the right person for that need,” Crawford writes. “If you need more ideas, talk to a trusted friend or mentor.”
3. Design Your New Position — If the company need you’re looking to meet requires the creation of a new position — one you’d be great for — get as specific as possible and come up with a job title and description, a timetable for implementing the position, and a list of what would be required (salary, benefits, equipment, etc.) from the company to get the ball rolling. It’s also helpful to do your homework and figure out how much money this new position might save the company, or how it might boost productivity or pay dividends in other ways.
4. Make Your Pitch — So, you’ve found a problem, figured out why you’re the one to address it, and created a new position that will enable you to get started. Now what? As Crawford writes, the final step is to decide who at the company you should pitch to. It might be your boss, or it might be your boss’ boss. Either way, figure out what type of communication this person responds to (graphics-heavy presentations, written reports, etc.) and tailor your approach accordingly. “If the idea gets shot down, ask why, so you can find out if there’s a possibility to adjust it or if it’s a no-go completely,” Crawford writes. In the event it’s a no-go, she adds, you might consider taking your proposal elsewhere.