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Asked by Sam on August 10, 2016

I very much want to advance my career. How do you work your way up the corporate ladder? I'm assuming I need to stand out to my supervisor, but I'm not sure if that's the case or if I need to be on the radar for someone higher up. Or do I need to make moves outside of the company. In addition, what are healthy expectations for promotion/raise timetables?

Answered by Ashley, Hiring Expert at Cardinal Health, on August 10, 2016

When thinking about advancing your career, I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that lateral moves are equally, if not more, beneficial than promotions. If you are early on in your career, lateral removes will be especially beneficial as it will help round out your overall experience and make you a more desirable candidate and employee in the long run.
As you start thinking about advancing your career, it is most important to impress your supervisor first as their feedback will typically be most valuable. By impressing your supervisor, that feedback will in turn fall on the ears of your +1 manager, etc. I would recommend that you start by asking your supervisor for extra work and/or stretch assignments to round out your experience. Are there other teams you can network with?
In my experience, I think one to two years in an entry-level role is a healthy expectation for advancement opportunities. If you work in a larger company, you shouldn't need to move outside of the company to advance your career. This is something you should keep in mind as you are job searching. Can you grow with your current company? If you are going to search externally, can the companies you seek out offer advancement opportunities for years to come?
Best of luck!

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Answered by Lori, Hiring Expert at Cigna, on August 11, 2016

It is great that you are thinking towards your future career goals. With that being said, it is probably a good time for some self-reflection. Where do you see yourself 3-5 years down the road? How about 10 years? Are you in a role that you are enjoying, but you would like to move into a management level? Are you interested in going back to school for another degree or certification? Do you like the size of the company you are in, or would you like one that is bigger/smaller? Do you enjoy your industry or would you like to check out another one? By answering these types of questions, you can help determine your career path. Advancing your career can mean many things. If your goal is to move into a management of people role, then I would recommend asking your manager for additional projects where you can have an opportunity to oversee the process and people involved. When a manager sees what you are capable of, they will want to support your career growth. By taking on additional responsibilities, outside of your current role, you will be seen as a go-getter by your manager as well as other business partners. If you feel like you are no longer challenged and can't see opportunities within your current company that is when I would recommend exploring opportunities externally. The timetable for making a move to a new role is typically 1-2 years. It is in that time period that a person can learn to master their role and be equipped with new skills to move into a new role. Most companies have a mid-year and annual review time so that your manager can discuss how you are doing and what areas you can work on developing, based on your career goals. Take that time to communicate openly with your manager, so that you are both on the same page with realistic expectations. Good luck!

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Answered by Stephanie, Hiring Expert at AT&T Inc., on August 16, 2016

You are asking some great questions here.  Some of the answers are going to be exclusive to the company you work for and the industry you are pursuing.  For example, if you are an actuary, promotions are sometimes directly attached to passing industry specific leveling tests.  If you are an architect, you can expect to make more money as you progress through your licensing.  In a position within an industry with a less specific structure, someone looking to move up would want to think about things like am I meeting expectations, am I exceeding expectations, am I far exceeding expectations.  You can only know the answer to these questions by having an open dialog with your leadership about your work and your goals. 

Being positively on the radar as someone to watch, in my experience, has always been a win.  I have tried to take advantage of opportunities to demonstrate my unique skills and style to my senior leadership.  As an employee of a big company with a lot of people competing for similar opportunities, setting myself apart from the pack has been critical to my success.  I couple that with ensuring I can be counted on to do excellent work, every time.  This formula doesn't fail.

Best of luck!

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Answered by Kate, Hiring Expert at ADP, on August 18, 2016

I love the enthusiasm to grow your career! You want to "work your way up the corporate ladder" the correct way, which takes time, hard work, networking, mentoring and patience. To stand out, you need to get your job done and perform well but also take on stretch assignments and do the job before you get the raise/promotion. You always want to network within your company and industry - share knowledge and ask lots of questions. Try to find a mentor, someone who will guide you by providing advice, positive and constructive criticism so you can grow.  Expectations for a promotion and/or raise depends on the company and role but can range on average for most companies I know of between 18 months and 3 years - remember many times you need to do extra work or seek out additional assignments to grasp additional insight into an industry, job, clients, etc. Be sure you want to work up the corporate ladder for the right reasons - not just monetary - be open minded and accept challenges and work assignments outside of your comfort zone that will help you longer term. Good luck! 

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