6 Sure-Fire Ways to Fast-Track Your Career

By Gerald Walsh ©

We all know people who are quite content working “9-to-5” and collecting a regular pay cheque every two weeks. Now, I am sure most of you reading this blog do not fall into that category. You have the desire to grow both professionally and personally throughout your career and your life, perhaps even stretching for the proverbial “corner office.” For you, growth is healthy. It’s a sign of expanding and developing.

But getting to the top is not a cakewalk. Intelligent, careful planning is needed. Here are a few things you can do if you want to arrive more quickly:

Think like the owner

Fast-tracking your career will be a lot easier if you think like the owner. Instead of asking, “What’s in it for me?” ask yourself strategic questions like, “What can I do to improve the bottom line?” or “How can I contribute to the growth of the company?” You will be of far greater value to your employer if you adopt an owner-like mentality.

Build your presence

Presence is a blend of your smile, physical being, speech, listening skills, warmth, etiquette, manner, attitude, charisma, dress, and passion. Think of a leader you respect. What do you feel when he or she walks into the room? How do others react to that person? Then, think about what it is that these leaders are doing that causes those reactions, and emulate those traits.

Cultivate relationships inside and outside of your organization

It is not just your boss you have to connect with. Make sure you have solid relationships with your colleagues in other departments as well as those in professional associations and community groups you are part of. Being well-known and respected by people is a key ingredient to fast-tracking your career. Aim to be the person others think about right away when opportunities open up.

Find a mentor

One of the finest ways to learn is by watching other people. Professional people do this all the time. Actors learn by watching other actors perform. Athletes hone certain skills by studying fellow athletes. Think about the skills that you need to strengthen in order to grow your career, then, invite people who are experts in these areas to be your mentor. You will be surprised at how quickly they accept. Remember, asking for advice from others is a sign of self-confidence, not weakness.

Expand your skill set

Your career will grow faster if you have a firm foundation of cross-functional skills. Although you may be trained as an accountant, your career will blossom with carefully chosen placements in operations, human resources, sales or marketing. Rarely does a person move through to the top echelons of an organization without gaining hands-on experience in more than one discipline. And, do not ignore the value of building your communication abilities. Individuals with well-developed presentation and communications skills have a distinct advantage over their timid colleagues.

Work hard and produce results

Promotions will come faster if you deliver results. And while you can increase your own productivity by being better organized and minimizing interruptions, it also may mean that you are going to have to work longer than everyone else. The average Canadian worker puts in 36 hours a week, compared to the average business owner who works almost 48 hours a week. That’s a 12 hour difference! But remember: employees are rewarded according to the value they bring to their employer, not just the amount of face time they put in. So make those extra hours count.

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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and writer. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 10,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @@Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn