Started From The Bottom? How To Work Your Way Up: Step-By-Step

There is something to be said for finding an entry-level job with a company you want to work for and then making your way up the career ladder. Not only will you learn a lot about the workings of the company (which is a real asset as your career grows), but you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have been recognised and rewarded for your efforts. However, you will need to be committed to your career, dedicated to the employer and of course show that you are a capable and productive employee. That said, promotion is never a bad thing, so you can use many of the same tips here to work your way up until you decide it is time for a sideways move elsewhere! Here’s how to do it:

  • Get An Entry-Level Job

This is not always as easy as it sounds – depending on your career goals. You could find an entry-level job in an industry that interests you or with a company that you would like to work for, but it is best to try and match you starting job to your career goals if you can. Sure, there are examples of people who have gone from cleaning to managing marketing departments, but it is easier if you find an entry-level marketing position to give yourself a head-start. At least that way you’ll get started in the right place to progress.

  • Study Your Path To The Top

The first part of this is in knowing where you want to go in the company. Once you have a specific goal to aim for you can set about working out how to get there. Look at the structure of the company (most have an organisational chart or something similar you can see as an employee), and then start doing your research into the company. Check out the company website to find out about its values and try to speak with more senior employees to find out how they made their way up. Of course, make sure to be polite and personable – these people may be useful contacts to help you later!

  • Learn Your Job

Learn your job well. Not just how to do it on a day-to-day basis, but also how it fits into the larger vision and structure of the company. Your job may seem small right now, but if you can see how it fits in with the overall structure you will start thinking like a boss rather than an employee. Remember executives need to be able to see the bigger picture – and so should you. Of course, it goes without saying that you should always do your job well and with a smile (even when you may not really feel like it).

  • Relationships!

This may be the single-biggest factor (aside from not making a mess of things) to help you rise to the top. You need to build good relationships with everyone else in the company. That’s right – everyone - or at least everyone you meet. You don’t have to like everybody or hang out with them socially, but you should treat everyone with respect and be friendly. Compliment others and acknowledge their help ,and don’t try to steal someone else’s ideas or work. You should also try to attend company-wide functions (Christmas party, etc) – they are a great chance to meet people from across the company, but be careful not to get drunk or make an idiot of yourself!

  • Do More

Now you have the grip on your own job look for opportunities to do more. Taking on extra responsibility to help out your boss and make their life easier will always reflect well on you. Don’t step on the toes of others by taking things away from them, nor do you want to draw light on anyone else’s failings. It is your job to shine in your own right, criticising or calling out others just makes you seem small minded and petty. Remember, your goal is always to be well thought of, don’t let doing more get in the way of that!

  • Train!

You will only improve by gaining new skills. If your work has a training program, take a look to see what courses you can take to progress to the next level in your career. Of course, an apprenticeship provides a platform for on-the-job learning, but if you already have a job you may have to search out the learning opportunities yourself.

  • Apply For Promotion

You can’t just wait around and hope that your boss will take notice and offer you a better job. No, you need to go out there and grab the opportunities as they arise. Apply for jobs that are being advertised within your company – making sure that you have built up the necessary skills and experience from your training and doing your own job (and those extra responsibilities) well. Of course, your next step needs to be realistic, so don’t think that you can go straight for that managing director role right away. However, there should be a logical line of progression that you can follow to the top. You will, however, need to stay in each position for a reasonable amount of time. What is deemed ‘reasonable’ varies from company to company and by industry to industry – but generally-speaking 1 or 2 years should be long enough for you to have built up the skills and experience needed to look to the next level.

Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive, and you will need to tailor it to suit your particular career goals or employer. While there are other pieces of advice to help you get promoted, there can be a time where there simply isn’t anywhere for you to go – in which case you may need to look elsewhere to grow your career. If this is the case, just take these same steps and keep going!

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