Job Advice: Advance Your Career

Show Up!

The easiest way to advance your career is to show up. I don’t just mean show up at 8am with bed head and crumpled clothes—I mean show up! Make an impression, be present. Arrive early to work if you can. If you are already hard at work when most others are rolling in, you’ll not get caught up in water cooler conversation and you’ll look good too. Arriving early will put more time in your day, take away the end of day crunch and potentially give you more flexible hours. More time will make it easier to achieve your goals in a job. Don’t sacrifice sleep—still get some—but wake up early enough to complete all of your routines. Fix your hair, pick out clean clothes and eat a good breakfast. All those things your mother told you? Do them!

Educate & Train

Never stop learning. Though you’ve completed schooling or worked at a job for many years, it is never wise to stop pursuing education. Education could be course through a local college or through your local municipality. Many state offices offer training for their consultants in various topics. If your client is offering you a training session, you are receiving the opportunity to learn the methods and rationale straight from the party that pays for your services. Through education, you may increase the depth of your knowledge or broaden your knowledge to new subject areas, both of which will increase your marketability.

Get Certification & Credentials

Certifications often result in additional letters after your name and additional lines on your resume. These not only look good for you personally, but they make you look good when you are proposed for a role on a project. Both of these aspects are positive in your value to the company you are with and in your marketability to other companies. A certification may indicate that you have passed a requisite exam, taken classes on a given subject, or showed your expertise through practice. No matter what stage of your career you are in, look for certifications of expertise or application—these will come in handy throughout your professional career development. In engineering, for example, such certifications are Professional Engineer (PE) and Professional Traffic Operations Engineer (PTOE). Certifications of other fields include: PMI Project Management Professional (PMP) and Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD). For information on the Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam and the Professional Engineer credential, see here.

Network, Network, Network!

Networking – Perhaps the most important way to advance your career is networking. Ultimately this business world is about people: who you know, who knows you, and who you can impress. Networking through professional organizations, alumni groups and conferences will be your first step to career advancement. Professional organizations typically have semi-annual or annual conferences pertaining to their primary trade focus. These are excellent events to interact with other companies in an effort to promote yourself (if you’re looking for a job) or your company (if you are looking for joint venture partners). In addition to technical sessions, most conferences include a luncheon, tradeshow and hospitality suites—all of which are great networking opportunities. If you are shy—make it a point to introduce yourself to two people at each of the above events—then next time make it three. Collect business cards and make follow-up contact with those that you may be able to partner with. Each networking opportunity should leave you with at least one new contact. If your company paid for your attendance be sure to thank your boss and pass on any contacts you think they’d like.