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manager and employee in conversation

So often, people assume that if they just work hard, someone will notice and that promotion will come. Unfortunately, more often than not, that belief turns to frustration when the opportunities don’t materialize, or, when they do, they won’t take you in the direction you want your career to go.

Travis Parman, Chief Communications Officer at AppHarvest made this point loud and clear in my recent podcast episode where he and I talked about the importance of making your career goals known to your manager.

Parman recalls that early in his career, he was “a little too patient” as he moved from one internal communications assignment to another within a large organization. His goal was to move to external communications to round out his experience. It wasn’t until he had multiple career conversations with his boss that he finally had that chance, and he was well positioned to make the move.

In my roles both as recruiter and career coach, I hear many mid-career professionals who want to level-up their career but feel a bit stuck in one specialty area. Here are three things you can do to make that happen:

  1. Get clear on the experience you want and why: In order to help other people help you, being clear on what you want and why will give your boss, your mentors or those in your network context and clarity. Whether your ultimate goal is to become a CCO or the best content strategist, being able to share that vision with others will help them make the right introductions and recommendations and keep you top of mind when an opportunity comes up.
  2. Know your gaps and fill them: Let’s say you are looking for a stretch assignment that will expand your skills in another specialty within communications. The first step is to find out what skills and qualifications you need in order to be considered for that role. Ask your boss for an honest assessment, then together create a plan to start filling those skills gaps so that when the next opportunity comes up, you’re ready to take it on.
  3. Be patient, but not too patient: Parman’s sentiment for patience is on target. The ideal career step isn’t always available in the timeframe we want it to be, so patience is important. But there will be times that growth is no longer possible within an organization. It’s then that you have to make the hard decision about whether to seek your next step somewhere else.

As communications professionals, you know better than to let someone else fill in the gaps and tell your story. Manage your career with the same strategic mindset to get the career you want.