Photo by Armand Khoury on Unsplash

3 Basic Tenets of Career Progression

An often-asked question that I get during discussions with team members and mentees is, what it takes to progress to the next level in their career? While this question is simple on the face, there is no prescriptive answer to it. The context, available opportunities and most importantly the journey to the next career level is unique to each individual.

However there are still few general patterns that if well understood builds a solid foundation for career growth.

Here in this article, let me take you through some of these aspects that have worked for me and my mentees, over the years.

You need to understand the changing nature of responsibilities with changing career phases. Look at the next career milestone that you aspire for carefully and get a sense of the required responsibilities. You can leverage your mentors or take help of job shadow opportunities for this.

Understanding the responsibilities will help you to evaluate whether you really want to progress in that direction or not. It will also help you to know the skills that will be needed.

The following table gives an idea of the changing responsibilities with changing career phases of a typical IT engineer and the key success criteria for each career phase. How well you handle the responsibilities at each phase will have a strong bearing on your career progression.

Changing responsibilities of an IT engineer

It’s extremely important to understand that there is a difference between skills and knowledge. While you may know several things theoretically, applying them practically is what differentiates you from the others. And skills are key to career progression.

The following questions will help you to spot the difference and act on it.

How do you gain knowledge?

Reading (blogs, articles etc), attending classes — youtube/udemy/github/orielly etc.

How do you gain skills ?

Volunteering your time and do the work required to gain the skills. You need to get your hands dirty.

Remember “No skills without action”.

This is about how in a day or a week you manage your time to deal with multiple responsibilities. It’s the ability to wear multiple-hats and seamlessly switching between the hats as needed.

Career roles are no different than life roles. Every role that you play decides your worth. It is thus important to ask yourself these pertinent questions — What can I offer? What value-adds can I bring to the table? And most importantly, is the role aligned with your core self?

A career growth or progression is not only about climbing the corporate ladder and finding a new designation, but realising where you stand in the organisation in terms of personal brand value and whether you are at peace.

In the end I would strongly recommend reading this wonderful piece on technical and managerial career ladder.

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