…in less than seven months!
Being a young professional in a startup or corporate environment can be terrifying.
Most of the time it feels like you are randomly stumbling. There are no specific instructions on how to use your experience and skills to advance in the new environment. Of course, if at first, you managed to land a job.
I’ve had the same problem.
Most of the places require seniority and years of experience for you to move through the ranks.
If you take into the account that average salary raise is between 2% – 7% in most of the countries in the world, it doesn’t sound encouraging at all.
That’s why I wrote this article so that you, young professionals, can get the edge.
I’ve analyzed the steps on how I’ve leveled up in an organization, and after realizing that each time I did the same thing, I decided to create a plan for my career growth (and as a consequence, to get a raise as well).
Of course, every company is different from another, but certain things are common. Feel free to take what you can from this article, and apply the tips to your advantage.
So, without any further ado.
Here’s a 5-step plan that landed me a promotion and a 40% raise
Before I list down the steps, I want to mention one crucial thing.
Your professional career depends on your ability to provide value to your organization.
Everything ranging from raises, promotions, perks, bonuses and whatever you can think of, depends on your ability to utilize your experience and skills by providing your company with results (the ones that are required of you and especially the ones that aren’t).
Here are the exact steps:
- Analyze the environment
- Define your exact job
- Have the skills needed to do your job
- Create and execute a plan
- Showcase your results and ask for a raise
- BONUS: Evaluate your actions, get feedback and adapt your plan
So, let’s examine each one of these.
Remember: you are playing the long-term game. There are no shortcuts.
1. Analyze the environment
No matter what research you’ve done and how much you’ve studied a particular company until you are there, you cannot know how things work.
That’s why whenever you join an organization (or if you are already there), stop for a moment and see how it can work to your advantage.
What you should look for is a career growth model (CGM).
A model which defines how does one individual go from one level to another, and what you have to do to get there.
If your company doesn’t have specifically defined CGM, you have to create it on your own. It will require some stumbling in the dark, but you can always get some help from other people.
I usually ask myself the following questions:
- What do successful people in my company do?
- Can I model their behavior and actions?
- Would they be interested in helping me?
Usually, you can find people that have done something you need to do, and you shouldn’t have to do everything on your own.
Maybe even within your team, you have someone who has progressed within the company fast and can give you pointers to get there.
Or even if they didn’t, be sure to spot the reasons why.
Did they step on someone’s toes? How’s their approach to work?
Find the faults, and be sure to pay attention not to repeat them.
The point of the analysis is to give you the clear picture of how your company runs, and what do people do to advance faster than others.
There is one rule I follow:
Give as much value as you get, or more (if possible).
This will always work in your favor.
2. Define your exact job
This is one of the most overlooked things.
Even if your Job description is well defined, you still need to look further into.
Whenever a person on a higher position envisions a position, they always have one particular thing they are looking for more than everything else.
Yes, even if in your JD there are 10-15 things, one has priority over them all.
That’s why you need to ask yourself a question:
What job am I hired to do?
I don’t mean your position or your role. But what specifically are you here to do?
Once you fin an answer, schedule a 15-minute meeting with your boss and ask her/him the same question.
You have to know exactly what is your boss expecting you to do.
For a project manager, it might be to see the project through. It sounds generic; that’s why you need to drill your boss (this does look dirty, but I refuse to change it) until you get that one thing.
This is important because you need the clarity, otherwise it is hard to gain not only results but also motivation for your role.
When you have this defined, you need to go further and ask yourself the following:
What are the high leverage activities in my job that bring the biggest ROI (return on investment) for my company?
If you follow the Pareto Principle, which states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
You will find that you have 1-3 activities that yield the biggest ROI (return on the investment).
Once you have this defined, you can also look for the gaps within your organization.
What are the other things within your company that are not within your job scope, but can be solved with your expertise?
Out of those, pick the ones you can take on that won’t put too much of pressure on your main responsibility.
Once I’ve answered these questions, you have to see whether or not you have all of the needed skills to deliver what you need to.
3. Have the skills needed to do your job
Usually, there is maybe a partial skill that is missing or one skill that you need to acquire to deliver an individual project.
For me to build a framework for a new academy we were launching, I need to learn how to do proper market research and analyze the data.
The good thing about it is that most companies will invest in your training or you can already find someone within the company that will train you.
As someone who studied Adult Education & Lifelong Learning, I love learning, and I think the more we know, the more value we create.
But even if you don’t look at it from that abstract point of view, one thing is clear:
The ones that don’t invest in their professional development, soon become obsolete.
Keep in mind the following:
- Things you can learn that will help you now
- Things you can learn that will help you moving forward
If you are good with the “now” part, try to predict what could be beneficial for you in the future.
4. Create and execute your plan
At this point, you have defined your highest leverage activities and things you need to learn.
Next to the high leverage activities, list down everything you are supposed to do.
Then see how many of those things can you:
Once you have the final list, there are two things to keep in mind:
- Things you can control
- Things you can’t control
For the things, you can control, forget multitasking, and try to focus on them until they are finished.
For the things that are out of your control, try to figure out a plan on how to cooperate with the people you depend on upon.
Set the proper expectations, agree on the channel of communication and always do a follow-up.
5. Track and showcase your results
Whenever you finish a particular activity, whether it be in the scope of your work, outside it, and the results you’ve achieved, be sure to note it down.
I usually have a dedicated note only for that, where I track the following:
- What you did within your job scope
- What you did outside of your job scope
- Testimonials from your stakeholders
- What you learned (courses, books, coaching, podcasts)
Showcase your results and ask for a raise (if they already haven’t noticed).
Show it to your manager or whoever is above you (in my case we could directly talk with CEO or send him an email).
Don’t be afraid to ask for it and never forget your worth.
If you feel that you’ve contributed to larger something, be sure to get rewarded for it.
NOTE: some of you reading this have probably already deserved a well due raise, and if that’s the case, go ahead and ask for your worth.
6. Evaluate your actions, get feedback and adapt
Every once in a while, go through everything you’ve done and do an evaluation.
If you don’t have a process for receiving the feedback, be sure to ask for it.
Do an internal assessment, and do an external one (ask your primary stakeholders).
Once you have the data, see what you did well and what can be improved.
See whether or not you have new goals and things to focus on, and if you do, go ahead and adapt the plan.
See how you can be even more efficient and deliver more value. What other projects you can take and how to approach them.
Put everything in your notebook and get to work.
Each organization has its own set of rules, but these things I’ve listed down are quite universal. They helped me in each organization I worked at.
If I were to summarize my article, this is what you should keep in mind if you want to make a progress in your career.
Three things matter:
- Do a great job
- Fill in the gaps (in and outside of your job scope)
- Guarantee Step 1 and 2 in the future
If you have these things covered, you have a leverage point.
Now all you need to get what you’re worth.
Was my article helpful? How do you plan your CGM? Share your thoughts below!