- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
For some of us, jumping on the career treadmill and slowly but surely working our way up the ladder success isn’t enough. Many of us want to fast-track our careers and achieve the success we’ve always dreamed of ahead of schedule. After all, with enough drive, aren’t you supposed to be able to do anything?
Today, let’s look at how you can fast-track your career by prioritizing a few key areas.
IDENTIFY AND FOCUS ON YOUR STRENGTHS
First and foremost, you have to identify and focus on your strengths if you want to fast-track your career. No one is the best at everything, which is part of why effective leaders learn how to delegate to specialists in their fields. They don’t try to micromanage every aspect of their company or become masters at every skill they may need to dip into from time to time.
You probably already have several inherent strengths based on your personality, college education, or personal history. Identify them and lean into those strengths hard, particularly if they apply to your current career situation.
Focusing on your strengths allows you to showcase your skills more impressively to your boss and will result in better bottom lines for your department, company, or workstation. For instance, if you’re excellent when working in customer service, prioritize assignments where you deal with customers and create glowing reviews for your organization.
FIND A MENTOR
It’s also important that you try to find a mentor ASAP. This is often easier said than done, but a mentor at your organization (or even in your industry) can open a lot of doors for your career.
For instance, many mentors can give you career advice as it relates to promotions or new work opportunities at competing companies. A software industry mentor might be able to provide key insight into how you can best rise through the ranks in that industry. It may be smarter to look for promotions at competing companies rather than grind through for a higher position at your current company.
Alternatively, a mentor in your company can introduce you to the CEO or other higher-ups. This isn’t a one-way ticket to a promotion, but it is an opportunity to showcase your skills and become more noticeable than you otherwise would as a regular cog in the business machine.
Plus, a mentor can help you hone the skills that are relevant for your company or point out which strengths you should prioritize.
Look for mentors in fellow alums from your college, your direct superiors or more experienced coworkers.
LEARN TO UNDER PROMISE… BUT OVER DELIVER
If you want to fast-track your career, you’ll need to impress your superiors. The best way to do this is to set their expectations wisely.
In other words, under-promise when it comes to results without, of course, promising so little that your superiors will be disappointed or irritated. Then try to over-deliver on those results. You’ll appear much more competent and able than otherwise, and won’t accidentally put too much work on your plate so that you burn out.
This strategy is one of the best ways to demonstrate your willingness to go above and beyond while keeping things manageable.
A great example might involve the sales numbers for your department in a retail store. Try to set a reasonable expectation for your managers, then boost your efforts and your staff’s motivation to blow those goals out of the water. The key part is that you’re able to set the expectations the whole way, so you are in control of the situation and the eventual result.
Leave the gossip at the door if you want to fast-track your career. Although some industries and companies no doubt have CEOs or other managers who seem to thrive when they’re churning the rumor mill, try to avoid this whenever possible. There are many more managers and CEOs who prefer a no-nonsense business demeanor and who dislike excessive gossiping at work.
This has additional benefits for fast-tracking your career as well. Those who gossip typically aren’t seen as very trustworthy over the long-term. They have difficulty making friendships that will last the length of your entire career.
But if you avoid gossip, it’ll be much easier to find business partnerships within your industry that last for a long time. People will trust you to get the job done without talking about them or other workers behind their backs.
BOOST YOUR BOSS
Fast-tracking your career isn’t just about you; it also usually involves making your boss look great. While this sounds counterproductive, it’s actually key if you want to grab a quick promotion. Bosses are human beings to, and if you have a superior who is facing a difficult quarter, try to make things easier on them.
More than likely, your boss will see you as a fine candidate for promotion if you make their job easier as well. While there’s a little bit of personal interest involved in this decision, it’s also true that most managers will see helpful employees as excellent candidates for promotion. Is it self-serving? Maybe a little bit, but it’s also ostensibly good for the company.
ARRIVE EARLY AND STAY LATE… WITHIN REASON
One last thing you can do to fast-track your career is always try to arrive a little bit early and stay a little bit late when there’s a big assignment due at work… Within reason, of course. It’s never a good thing to burn out or spend all your available time at your workplace. Such a practice is a recipe for poor mental health and may make you seem obsessed rather than a good candidate for a manager’s office.
Still, arriving to work a little bit on time so you can get your desk in order and check in with your boss before your officially clocked in goes a long way toward showing the right kind of initiative. Similarly, sticking around for an extra 15 minutes to wrap things up properly instead of leaving things half-finished is a surefire way to show your superiors that you know how to get the job done.
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Thought leaders & celebrities share their tactics for success on the Lisnic podcast by Lisa Teh & Nick Bell