Career Advancement Strategies (With Steps and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 November 2022 | Published 27 September 2021

Updated 30 November 2022

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

In addition to the prospect of increasing your salary, career advancement opportunities can increase motivation levels at work. Career advancement comes in many forms, including training opportunities, promotions and continuing education. Seeking these opportunities can help you develop career advancement strategies that can help you achieve your goals. In this article, we explain the five stages of career development, show how to develop career advancement strategies, list five ways to advance your professional growth and provide tips for accelerating your career progression.

Related: How To Make a Career Plan and Set Career Goals (With Benefits)

How do you develop career advancement strategies?

You can develop career advancement strategies by looking for growth opportunities within your network. Consider speaking with your management team about potential promotions or job openings they anticipate and ask them to consider you for the role. If you are a member of a professional organisation, you can enquire with other members about resources, too. Remember to stay updated on news and trends in your field by following professional organisations on social media and subscribing to their publications.

Related: 15 Key Areas for Development (With Examples and Tips)

What are the five stages of career development?

While every professional has a different timeline for career progression, a general framework describes the stages most people experience throughout their careers. Understanding your career stage can help you create and reach goals based on the next steps in your career. Here are the five stages of career development:

1. Exploration

The exploration career stage involves the choices you make before choosing a career, such as researching career options and pursuing an education. This stage typically occurs in your early to mid-twenties. As you begin to feel confident about a potential career field or prepare to graduate from a university, you may begin developing basic skills and performing more in-depth research on specific roles. At this stage, people may make career decisions based on the influence of professors, family members, friends and society.

Related: What Is Career Development? (With Strategies and Tips)

2. Establishment

Establishment begins during your initial job search for your career. It involves browsing job opportunities, applying for positions and interviewing with hiring managers. This stage usually occurs between your mid-twenties and mid-thirties, and you may accept entry-level or mid-level positions at this early stage of your career path. Many people find the establishment stage exciting, as it gives them an opportunity to develop new skills and become comfortable with their career identity.

3. Mid-career

The mid-career stage involves career stability, progression into more advanced roles or a career change. It typically occurs between your mid-thirties and mid-forties, during which time many professionals realise whether they enjoy the field they chose or they would prefer to work in another role. If you choose to stay in your established career, you may experience job satisfaction with your role or seek opportunities for advancement. If you feel another career path could help you reach your personal and professional goals, you may choose to further your education or apply for jobs in a new field during this stage.

Related: What Is Career Progression? (With Steps and Tips)

4. Late-career

During the late-career stage, many professionals begin thinking about retirement. This stage usually occurs between your mid-forties and mid-fifties, and you might find that your experience in the field allows you to pursue less demanding roles. You may also use your seniority to seek management or training positions that allow you to help newcomers to your field succeed. At this stage, making financial preparations for retirement typically becomes more important than in previous stages.

5. Decline

The decline stage of your career takes place when you choose to retire, which usually occurs between the ages of 55 and 65. Some professionals retire earlier, while others work full-time into their seventies. The type of job you do and how it affects your health may have a role in when you decide to retire. You might also consider your financial preparedness. Some professionals who retire pursue part-time jobs to stay busy and earn an extra income after retirement.

Related: 20 Retirement Jobs (With Average Salaries and Duties)

5 ways to advance your professional growth

There are many ways to advance your professional growth, and they all involve taking the initiative to learn more and seek development opportunities. Being proactive about professional growth and allowing experienced professionals to assist you can help you advance your career. Here are five ways you can advance your professional growth:

1. Find a mentor

A mentor with years of experience in your field can help guide you in your career advancement. They can give you expert advice about the options you have and effective ways you can approach your goals. Find a mentor you can connect with who listens actively to your thoughts, has experience in your field and makes time for you. You might consider asking someone you admire professionally or a professor who taught you in college, or you can choose to hire a mentor to help you advance in your career.

2. Promote yourself

Learning how to sell yourself can help you get the attention of management. It also enables you to compete with others in your field for career advancement opportunities. Here are three steps you can take to become skilled at promoting your strengths:

  1. Tell others exactly who you are. This means that when you promote yourself, you talk about your abilities and the qualities that make you great. This allows you to avoid thinking about your setbacks and instead focus on your goals.

  2. Meet with other professionals. Consider attending seminars, conferences and other professional events. Go on interviews, speak to management and take advantage of networking opportunities.

  3. Emphasise your unique qualities. When promoting yourself, make sure you explain to your peers what makes you different from the competition. To do this, you can describe the exciting projects you've worked on and share great ideas.

3. Take classes

Whether you choose on-the-job training or you take an independent online course, it's essential to continue to sharpen your skills. Show your employer how invested you're in learning new skills and attaining the right knowledge for your role by attending workshops, seminars or evening classes to further your qualifications. If you're unsure where to find continuing education opportunities, ask your management team if they have recommendations. This allows you to find opportunities to learn and shows your managers your desire to succeed.

Related: How To Write a Development Plan (With Example)

4. Create a vision

Besides taking actionable steps to further your career, you can also focus mentally on the direction in which you want your career to go. You can do this by creating a vision board or a plan with steps to help you reach your goal. Having a clear vision of what success in your career looks like to you is important for days when your job feels challenging. You can also write down what you've achieved so far so that during challenging times, you can remember how far you've come.

Related: What Is an Idea Board? (With Definition, Uses and Steps)

5. Maintain a professional appearance

Whether you're in a start-up company or a long-established corporation, remember to dress for the job you want. That means adhering to the style code of the company but also looking polished and professional during work and networking events where you interact with your peers. Maintain proper hygiene and grooming habits so that you appear clean, professional and prepared to work. This shows your managers and peers that you take your career seriously.

Read more: A Guide on Dress Codes for All Business Occasions

Tips for speeding up career progression

Career advancement takes time, but there are some ways that you can speed up the process. Maintaining control of your professional life and establishing clear plans for the future can help you speed up your career progression. Here are some other tips for meeting your professional objectives faster:

Prioritise your goals

You may find it helpful to have many types of goals with different deadlines. For example, you might have weekly, monthly and yearly goals. Establishing short- and long-term objectives can help you succeed in many areas of your career, but consider prioritising those that help you grow at work. For example, if you have both continuing education and hard drive cleanup on your monthly list, you may pursue continuing education first because it's more likely to help you progress in your career.

Related: Career Goals: How To Set, Examples and Tips for Achieving

Stay organised

Keeping your personal and professional lives organised may facilitate productivity and motivation, which can help you grow as a professional. Keep your physical items, digital files and schedule organised at work so you can complete your duties efficiently. Also, consider establishing a healthy work-life balance that allows you to succeed professionally while enjoying your time off work. For example, tell your colleagues and managers you plan to turn off work email notifications when you're spending time with family on your days off. That way, you can take a break from work and feel refreshed when you return.

Deliver value

Working quickly can benefit you, but make sure you emphasise quality over quantity. Career advancement occurs when your peers and managers recognise the value you add to your team and the organisation. Instead of focusing on speed, prioritise the value of your work. For example, talk to management about deadlines you may have difficulty meeting, and explain that you'd prefer to submit quality work that takes longer than mediocre work you complete on time. Even if they insist on the deadline, you show them you care about the quality of the work you submit.

Related: How To Find a Rewarding Career Path in 9 Steps

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