Executives: How to Move Up or Move Out of Your Organization

A shockingly high 28% of people currently employed are actively seeking new employment, and more than 40% are “passively open to new opportunities,” according to Gartner. The research firm also says that since the financial crisis of 2008, some organizations have chosen to remove layers of middle management, which reduces opportunities for promotions.

Compensation also plays a factor in why employees leave jobs. One Gallup poll found that almost half of all employees would consider leaving their organization for a new job if it offered a raise up to 20% or less.

Looking at statistics like this, it is clear that taking control of your career’s trajectory is critical. After three decades as a corporate fast-tracker and six years as a professional career and job search coach, I have learned a lot about accountability versus abdication of career success. I have even been guilty of the latter. Some leaders do fall into the “blame game” trap, so I would like to share my three rules for positioning yourself to get promoted or recognizing when it is time to move on.

Rule No. 1: Recognize that you are who cares most about your career.

Let’s face it: You should care about your career and be the one who steers its course. As such, ask yourself which actions you are deliberately and methodically taking to move your career to the next level. You are not alone when saying, “Yeah, I should care more,” so why not be one of the few who actually makes it happen?

Once you accept accountability, it is time to take the next steps. First, set your goal, then, revamp critical documents, such as your resume or cover letter. Finally, map out your plan. (Rule No. 2 elaborates more on this.)

Rule No. 2: Build your options.

Again, see Rule No. 1: Recognize that no one cares about your career as much as you do. Next time you find yourself complaining about being stuck, ask yourself, “Am I doing anything to change my employment and resulting financial situation?” Most of us rely too much on our boss or our company to guide our career, promote us and assure our happiness on virtually every level. But the days of leaving your career in the hands of others are gone; today, you need to be in the driver’s seat of your career.

Do you know you can act right now to develop career choices? If you are stuck, follow these steps:

  • Research your next career move. Sit down at your computer, and document your findings on the following: target companies, sample job descriptions, whether you know anyone at those companies, who you need to meet with, etc. Write down your plan.
  • Without applying, conduct research to find 10 job descriptions that depict the job you want next, and learn all you can. Fill in the blanks: “I’m seeking a [position] in [industry] in [city]. Examples of companies I would like to work for are …”
  • Block a fixed time in your calendar, day or night, to focus on these job search activities. Commit to your schedule, and don’t let this appointment to yourself slide.
  • Set a target employment date. Ask yourself when you want to be in your next role. How much money would you like to make? What are the steps you need to take to get there?
  • Update your résumé. Start fresh, and research new techniques.
  • Study social media best practices and add your resume to your LinkedIn profile.
  • Learn the latest steps and techniques to excel in your job search — no excuses this time. Be humble and become a learner. Learn by reading blogs, taking an online course, or hiring a coach. Sign up for what best suits your learning habits.
  • Subscribe to local business publications to read the weekly news and learn about the companies in your backyard, sorted by industry and much more. Plus, this gives you access to networking events and gets your finger on the pulse of your local professional market.

Rule No. 3: Take control of your next career move.

Being in control of your career and its destiny is empowering. It will also most likely result in great success, no matter how you define what success means to you. And, whether you make a move within your current company or outside, you might see financial, emotional, and life-changing gains.

Look, nobody said it was going to be easy. And the days of getting tapped on the shoulder for your next career move are over. It is now up to you to tap others on the shoulder. Look at your job search as if the Men in Black “neutralizer” (a device used to erase memories) has been used, and any memories of what you used to do and any out-of-date information about resumes, cover letters and interviewing has been zapped away. The job search has changed, and once you recognize this, you can start your plan. Start thinking, researching, and planning your next career move, even if it’s recommitting to your current role.

In close, with that Men in Black “neutralizer,” I would zap out all the blame and accountability placed on others. It’s your turn to be in the driver’s seat of a new kind of bus. You simply need to learn how to drive it.

This article originally appeared here on Forbes.com.


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