To advance in your career and reach your dream position, you’ll need to progress professionally, climbing up through what is known as the “corporate ladder.” In this article, you’ll learn what the corporate ladder is, why it’s important to your career and what steps to take to advance to the top.
What is the corporate ladder?
“Corporate ladder” is a term that explains the concept of an employment hierarchy at a company, and career advancement when moving from entry-level positions at the bottom of the “ladder” to upper-level management at the executive level, located at the top of the “ladder.” The phrase “climbing the corporate ladder” means to advance within a company from the bottom to the top through promotions. The corporate ladder gets increasingly more difficult to climb since companies typically have a larger portion of entry-level positions and fewer positions in middle and upper management.
How to climb the corporate ladder at work
People climb the corporate ladder to get higher salaries, acquire impressive job titles, take on new challenges and feel more fulfilled. If you are interested in moving up in your company, here are the steps to take:
Make a blueprint
Making a long-term career blueprint will help you focus on getting to where you want to be at the height of your career. Knowing what position you ultimately want will help you determine which steps to take to get there. Expect to make adjustments depending on opportunities that arise for you. Here’s how to begin making a career blueprint:
1. Identify your specific career goals
Look at the bigger picture of where you are on your career path and where you want to be. Envision your ideal career and decide exactly what that dream job entails. You might know exactly what you want to do for the duration of your career, or you may just have an idea of what field you would love to work in, or a specific title you want to hold.
2. Determine the greater milestones you need to meet
Once you’ve determined your dream job, decide which larger accomplishments you need to make to achieve this career. Write down what you imagine or know the larger steps are to achieve the position you want. Include any personal career milestones you want to add.
3. Define the smaller steps you need to take
After determining the larger goals you need to complete, break each one down into smaller steps as short-term goals. Some goals will fit into a clear path from start to finish, while others will end up more flexible and non-sequential in your blueprint.
4. Set yearly performance goals with your manager
Once you detail a plan of action for your career path, it’s a good idea to discuss performance goals with your manager to develop a strategic pathway toward advancement opportunities. Knowing what your manager expects of you will allow you to perform above their requirements. Understanding what they want to see from you to consider you for promotion will also give you guidance as to what kind of work ethic and characteristics to use as your baseline.
5. Prioritize your professional development
After you create a clear, defined blueprint to follow with input from your supervisor, start participating in career development opportunities. This could include on-the-job training, additional online education, formal classes, seminars or mentorship. Seek out tools to help you grow personally and professionally toward your dream job.
Communicate your ambition
Be vocal to your management about your ambition and desire to grow within the company. Opportunities for advancement may not last long, so it’s important to position yourself as someone ready to take on the next challenge and move into a role with more responsibility. Let your manager know where you would like to go within the company, to help you stand out in their mind(s) and consider you when a promotion comes up.
Make sure you work on enhancing your communication skills as well. Growing within a company requires clear, straight-forward communication to ensure everyone understands the needs of the company. When discussing your desires for growth with your manager, be clear about what type of advancement you’re looking for.
Employers are more likely to consider employees for promotions that show their leadership abilities by seeking to constantly learn. True leaders show a willingness to educate themselves and excitement to grow. Commit to learning everything you can about your industry and the higher position you’d like to move into. Seek employer feedback on a regular basis, particularly after each project. Always aim higher than your current position and drive yourself to keep learning more about your work and the work you’d like to do in the future.
Through this on-going accumulation of knowledge, you can show your manager the skills you gained and your expanded comprehension of the field you’re in, which will set you up as an ideal candidate when a higher-level position opens up.
Advancing within a company should come as a result of your hard work and willingness to go beyond your manager’s expectations. Managers identify potential employees to promote by looking for candidates who stand out from the rest by striving for excellence in everything they do from everyday behavior and professional conduct to the work they produce.
Promotable employees possess a desirable “can-do” attitude. They focus on their work and take care of their responsibilities but offer to help do more than what is required of them. Company leaders want to promote employees who show initiative simply because they enjoy their job and want to collaborate and service others.
Seek feedback from your employer regularly, rather than waiting for a quarterly or yearly review. Take notes on your strengths and weaknesses to improve your performance where needed and involve your manager in your efforts. You could also volunteer to take on extra work to help make your supervisor’s job easier. Provided you complete the work on time and to a high standard, you will make yourself more visible as a hardworking individual.
Move on if necessary
You may find that your current company lacks the growth opportunities you desire, in which case, you’ll have to decide to move on and find a higher-level position elsewhere. When job searching, pay attention to new start-ups and rapidly growing companies since they often provide the greatest possibilities for quick advancement. However, keep in mind that more mature companies, though potentially slower to promote, may offer more security and overall benefits for those willing to wait for an open position.
During your search, identify the most important aspects of a job for you and perform thorough research on companies that interest you. During interviews, make it a priority to explain your necessity for additional growth within the company and ask what advancement opportunities will exist for you if you accept a new position.
Stay and invest your time
If you evaluated the growth opportunities at your current job and decided you want to stay and work your way up within the company, then it’s time to invest. Make it your mission to invest in that company to leverage your chances of moving up. Advancement within the same company often provides the most reward and shows your dedication, which can help you advance more quickly than if you switch to a new company every few years. Showing your investment in a company includes:
- Demonstrating a clear passion for your job with an excellent work ethic
- Encouraging collaboration and teamwork
- Stepping up to lead when the opportunity presents itself
- Maintaining a professional and positive demeanor during all interactions with employees, clients and customers
- Being punctual for everyday work, meetings and functions
- Fully understanding the mission, values and goals of the company
Participating in company activities such as social events, charity work or work sports teams also shows your love and dedication for the company and can help introduce you to people who can assist you in your corporate ladder climb with networking.