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Career Development Tips

How to Build Your Own Career Path Within an Organization

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

Set Aside What Was & Focus On What IsTake Advantage of Resources AvailableNetwork to Gain VisibilityMake Your OpportunityLearn More!

Guide Overview

A Guide to Creating Your Own Career Path

In the “traditional organization” over the last century, many professionals enjoyed a 30 year career, all under the same roof. Having this type of stability within one place allowed people to clearly plot their career trajectory, and recognize what was required to move up the ladder. “In many respects, careers advanced like a conveyor belt, with expected progress to the next interval, so long as performance remained high” says Dorie Clark, Marketing Strategy Consultant.  

Today, only 19% of organizations continue to adopt the traditional models of career pathing. With the rise of both highly paid and low wage tasks being outsourced, the gig economy, automation, and technology, job hopping has become the norm, and the quest for a traditional career path has left many scratching their heads.

So how can modern professionals, searching for some semblance of career stability and upwards mobility arm themselves for this new reality? To start creating your own career path, consider the following perspective

Set Aside What Was & Focus On What Is

Forget about the past vision. While some organizations might still have defined graduate training rotations, leadership cohorts, and development programs, they do not ever guarantee permanency. Rather than getting tripped out and feeling undercut by stability that is no longer available to you, deal with the reality of today. If you want to be successful today, you’ll need to step up and take the responsibility, says Clark.

Open your eyes to the idea that opportunity and creativity are everywhere, and if you’re willing to do the work and take initiative, you’ll find opportunity in abundance.

Take Advantage of Resources Available

Often times, employees will complain that their organization does not offer a learning path towards their success. What they fail to realize, is that opportunities for development do exist, if they take initiative to seek them out. Human Resources and organizations, in general, are often very happy to facilitate opportunities for employees who raise their hands and show initiative. However, “many people don’t know that they ought to be doing that, and rather, are sitting back and waiting, assuming that the old rules apply,” says Clark.

Instead of sitting around waiting for an opportunity to learn something new, mingle with your company’s HR team and learn about what development opportunities might exist. Research any local conferences that appeal to your vision, or even sign up for some online courses!

Here are a few ways to tap into available resources:

Network to Gain Visibility

When building your career path within an organization, an important first step is to gain visibility to what people do. Learn about the different units that exist and understand the company workings. This way, you can start to build out your own directional path into areas that interest you, says Clark. Learn more about what you both like and dislike by networking with different departments, attending town halls, signing up for talks and workshops, seeking out informational interviews, or simply eating lunch in the common area with new colleagues instead of your desk!

Once you have a sense of what piques your interest, give yourself a range of options and opportunities to explore. If you think you might be interested in a certain kind of role, get to know the team, volunteer for a committee, or volunteer for a stretch assignment. Begin to try and do projects that enable you to collaborate more, says Clark.

Make Your Opportunity

In order to create opportunities for yourself within an organization, you’ll need to understand how your skill set can either solve for any gaps you notice within the company, or set yourself apart by raising your hand to do the work that others might not want to take on. Look inwards and gain deeper self-awareness, and then look at the organization strategically to understand how you can add value in different areas.

Create new opportunities for yourself by always ensuring you’re re-training and re-educating. Not only in just your technical skills, but soft skills as well. The value of strong communication and interpersonal skills are gaining more and more weight in today’s modern workplace.

Ditch the tunnel vision linear career path, and embrace the new and unexpected opportunities that come your way. Don’t wait for HR to come to your desk and deliver your next opportunity. Rather, go out, and create something you love every day! And who knows, your next big break, could be just around the corner.

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