5 Smart Steps To Advancing Your Career

Ursula Ringham

Career advancement is all about being ready, not getting ready when opportunities arise.

Now that baseball season is over (congrats to the K.C. Royals), most sports fans are turning their attention towards football and basketball. The NFL is already in mid-season form and we are starting to see which teams are likely to make the playoffs and take their shot at winning the ultimate prize – the 50th Super Bowl championship.

Some players are having breakout years. It’s obvious that they worked hard in the off-season and in training camp to be in a position to succeed this year. We can all learn from these players when evaluating our own career-advancement opportunities. Being ready for the big game is a daily routine that starts months in advance. Players practice, prepare, and work on their focus far away from the stadium lights because they want to be “game-ready” during the season. You need to think in similar terms when it comes to your own career. Here are my five training strategies to being game-ready for career advancement.

  1. Be wanted

Your brand isn’t built overnight; it takes multiple experiences (two to five more positive than negative experiences) to build a successful brand image. But, like with an athlete’s career, one or two critical mistakes and it could be over. Be actively aware of your brand and work on the attributes that are negatively impacting it.

  1. Be polished

You dress well, your shoes are polished, and yet your resume is underwhelming. Too many people choose the DIY approach to resumes (doing it in Word vs. paying a nominal fee to use a tool like LiveCareer.com). Don’t underestimate the impression your resume makes on your personal brand. It might be the first and last impression. Take time to craft a high-quality resume that represents the best version of you. In addition, invest in a professional head shot for your LinkedIn profile, the digital version of your resume.

  1. Be current

Getting a phone call or email from a former boss, co-worker, or another manager about a career opportunity often happens with little-to-no time to prepare. Is your resume current and ready to email at a moment’s notice? Is your LinkedIn profile current? There are few things worse in career advancement than a resume and LinkedIn profile that don’t match up … and yes, hiring managers will check both for consistency.

  1. Be you

Know your strengths, your likes, and your passions. More importantly, know what kind of work you don’t want to do. If you are good at your job, opportunities will abound. Don’t take one that doesn’t fit your description of what’s important to you. Better to say no and be happy, than say yes and be miserable.

  1. Be a risk-taker

This is more for women than men, because men worry less about failure than women. Take a risk when asked to interview for or consider a new role. Don’t share your concerns about your gaps during the interview process. Save them for a piece of paper or your friends outside of work. During the interview ask questions about the expectations of the role to help you make an informed decision. Never tell them you doubt yourself and your abilities, even if you feel that way. Last, never apologize for yourself. This erodes your brand because it shows you as insecure.

By following these five steps, you will be ready with your A-game for every career opportunity. While you may not get selected and/or you may opt out, you will make a good impression on the interviewers, which could lead to another opportunity down the road.

Are you looking for performance review strategies that get results? See For More Motivated Employees … Get Personal.


About Ursula Ringham

Ursula Ringham isthe Director of Digital Marketing at SAP. She manages social media and digital marketing strategy for the small and midsize business community. She was recently recognized as one of 15 Women Who Rock Social Media at Top Tech Companies. Prior to SAP, Ursula worked at Adobe and Apple in their Developer Relations organizations. She managed strategic accounts, developer programs, edited a technical journal, managed content for an entire website, and wrote and taught course curriculum. In her spare time, Ursula writes thriller novels about the insidious side of Silicon Valley.

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