Climbing the corporate ladder is an ambitious task that many professionals hold dear. Unsurprisingly, however, most of those seeking to advance fall short of their ultimate goal.
The reasons for failure are two-fold. Professionals are either too focused on the climb that they neglect the day-to-day, or they’re too passive in their career and end up stagnant.
It’s essential to strike the right balance when summiting corporate ladder positions. This guide gives you the 8 tips you need to climb that ladder successfully.
Tip 1: Start With Goals
Climbing the corporate ladder successfully boils down to being intentional. If you wander aimlessly throughout your career, it will be harder to reach the top.
Take some time to set goals. These should be significant goals, such as milestones you want to achieve 5 or 10 years down the line; you also want to map out smaller goals that will culminate in those larger ones.
Extensively document the steps you’ll take and the outcomes you want to produce.
Corporate climbing starts with intentionality, so don’t skip this step.
Tip 2: Learn, Learn, Learn
Those climbing the corporate ladder are learning with each progression. Once you’ve learned all there is to learn in a particular position, you’re prepared to climb to the next rung.
Rather than checking items off your daily task list, focus on expanding your knowledge. Seek opportunities beyond your job description that allow you to learn critical skills.
Importantly, look for tasks that push you outside your comfort zone. Being a leader means being uncomfortable and navigating unfamiliar situations; the quicker you can get used to that, the better.
Seek to understand all areas of your company and support wherever possible.
You can also learn outside of your job. Volunteering, continued education, and researching online are excellent ways to learn new skills you can take to work.
Tip 3: Network The Whole Time
Never stop networking. Climbing the corporate ladder is often a function of who you know more than it is what you know.
Networking can help you accomplish two fundamental objectives. It enables you to keep connected with people who will watch your progression and may offer you a senior position one day. Networking also allows you to meet interesting people from whom you can learn.
Here are some networking tips for climbing the career ladder:
- Focus on helping others, not yourself
- Don’t dismiss anyone as unimportant; you can prioritize certain people you want to get to know, but don’t exclude anyone
- Add value to your network
- Follow up with contacts often
Breaking into a senior-level position may ultimately come down to your network, so don’t neglect this.
Tip 4: Work Hard and Work Smart
Climbing the career ladder isn’t easy, and anyone who’s done it will tell you it requires hard work. You’ll need to work harder than those around you to stand out.
How much effort you put in daily depends on your timeline. If you want to get to a managerial position as fast as possible, you’ll want to take on more work now. If you’re relaxed about the timeline, you can ease up on the day-to-day.
Corporate burnout is a real phenomenon, particularly in career-driven individuals. Work smart, not just hard. Simplify tasks where you can, automate and outsource, and avoid working excessive hours all the time.
Signs of burnout include:
- Lack of excitement about tasks
- Coping in unhealthy ways (drinking, sleeping all day, binge eating)
Climbing the corporate ladder will be challenging, but avoid burning out. That will set you back in the long run.
Tip 5: Find a Mentor
Why reinvent the wheel? Climbing the corporate ladder has been done before. While you actively network, seek out a mentor.
Mentors should be in a position that you aspire to be in. Look for someone whose track record you admire and would emulate.
Asking someone to be your mentor can be daunting. Here’s how to simplify the asking process:
- Schedule a time to talk
- Respect this person’s time, and give them the “easy out” of being too busy
- Clearly describe what it is you seek from this person
- Acknowledge that you’re willing to put in the work, and their efforts won’t be in vain
- If you don’t hear back, follow up once or twice, but never excessively
Mentors come with various benefits, so when attempting corporate climbing, seek one out.
Tip 6: Don’t Wait to Be Asked
Leaders initiate. Climbing the corporate ladder means demonstrating your leadership potential, and executing on your own accord is an excellent way to do that.
Constantly seek ways to go beyond the job description. Provide feedback and ideas that will encourage others.
You must also acknowledge that stepping outside your realm means you’ll make mistakes more often. We tend to view failures as negative; instead, understand that the faster you fail, the quicker you learn. Treat every mistake as a learning opportunity.
You’ll struggle with corporate development if all you do is what you’re assigned. Prove that you’re a go-getter by taking the initiative.
Tip 7: Match Your Efforts With Company Goals
When your goals match your company’s, your efforts will be more effective. Leaders must serve the company’s ethos and objectives, so you want to demonstrate your ability to do that.
Company goals and strategies may change, so you want to keep up-to-date. Ask your boss how you can better align your work. Doing so will make climbing the corporate ladder that much easier.
Tip 8: Stay Connected With an Executive Search Firm
Our final tip is simple: build a relationship with a notable executive search firm. Climbing the corporate ladder is one thing, but ending up in a position you’re happy with is another.
If you want access to companies and roles where you’d thrive, an executive recruitment firm such as Jennings Executive can help. Their vast network will help match you with the senior position of your dreams.
Even if you aren’t ready for a senior role, getting to know a search firm throughout your career means they’ve followed your journey and can match you that much better when the time is right.
Contact Jennings Executive today, and let’s get to know each other.