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Four key steps to climbing the corporate ladder

"Consider what you loved doing when you were a kid."

We all start somewhere. Whether you begin by making coffee or doing data entry for days on end, everyone has been on the bottom of the corporate ladder. One thing is certain: no one wants to stay there.

So, if you are starting at the bottom and have loftier goals in mind, how do you go about moving up? Or, if you are currently studying, what can you do now to set yourself up to accomplish great things later in life?

There are four steps you can take to achieve your career goals.

Step 1: Engage with your industry

‘Cultural fit is one key,’ according to Dr Steve Jaynes, Deakin MBA Deputy Director.  

He recommends gaining an awareness of the culture behind your industry, and working out how well you align or can realign within that culture to achieve your goals.

Step 2: Find a mentor

In the business world, you need someone in your corner.

‘While you have strengths and capabilities, you might also have weaknesses and gaps,’ says Dr. Jaynes. ‘A mentor can help you to develop the right capabilities to navigate promotion pathways.’

Mentors can also be useful simply because they have been through the same experiences – you can learn from their mistakes rather than making your own.

Dr Jaynes is not alone in advocating for mentorship. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson also testifies to the importance of having a mentor.

‘If you ask any successful businessperson, they will always have had a great mentor at some point along the road.’

Step 3: Put your hand up

Showing you can master your job position and take on extra roles is a great way to advance your career.

Dr Jaynes says taking initiative is important, but it must be done strategically by introducing products or plans that work within the company’s goals.

Step 4: Stand out from the crowd

Work out what you can offer that makes you distinctive – and then deliver on it.

One way to clarify your specific value is to reflect on what you are good at doing and what you like doing: Think back to your childhood if necessary.

‘Consider what you loved doing when you were a kid,’ says Dr Jaynes. Making sure your personal purpose and value is matched to the right initiatives at your work will ‘get better results and put you in a better position for promotion’.

Everyone has something particular to offer: reconnect with this and use it to inform your business strategy.

Climbing the corporate ladder is definitely a challenge, but with the right skills, strategies and a proactive approach, the process can be a lot easier and your success more assured.

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