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How to: Drive Your Career to the Next Level

By Michelle Yozzo Drake

As a Communication Strategist, I am constantly encountering people who are struggling to find success at work. That makes sense considering we spend most of our waking lives on the job! These people come to me unhappy with the course their career and life are taking and desperate to figure out how to redirect themselves on a path toward satisfaction.

Most of them think that the answer to their woes is to chuck their current job and start fresh in a new industry or a new company. After speaking with them and crafting a clear picture of their skill sets and their current positions, I often come to a surprising conclusion: it's not the industry or the company that's the problem! It's their position in the organization!

Many of these people are really searching for the next level: more challenges, more responsibilities - and not to mention better pay, a more impressive title, and even that corner office.

So how do I help get them there?

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The first thing I tell them is this: TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR CAREER. No one else is going to drive it for you, and why should they? They're busy driving their own careers! But before you think we're all a completely selfish bunch, let me remind you that you do have some helpers within your organization. Your #1 helper? Your boss. Partner with your boss. Sit down and have a very direct, very specific conversation with him or her. Be brave and ask for feedback on areas that you may need to learn, grow and improve in order to reach the next rung on the ladder.

Make sure you tell your boss that you want this information because you want to be able to contribute more to the company. You want your skills to line up with what the company goals are because it's your desire to move up with the company and to move onto his or her senior management team. Show him or her that by helping you, they're not only helping the company, they're making themselves look good, too.

Show that you can handle more responsibility by actively seeking difficult jobs, high exposure projects, and by volunteering to help other departments or teams that may be struggling with a job or a particular project.

Demonstrate that you're good with people. Strong interpersonal skills are really critical in being able to motivate and work with a team. As you move up in the organization, people skills are what become most important. Show your boss that you can motivate, you can work in a team, you can lead AND follow, and he or she will show you a promotion.

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Be innovative. Think of creative solutions to issues in the workplace. Everyone loves a problem solver and it's a great way to put the spotlight on YOU. When it comes time to fill a position in the upper ranks, your boss will remember the pain of the problem and the relief that came with your solution.

Find other mentors in the organization that can help you groom yourself for advancement. It helps to be buddy-buddy with those who have the greatest influence so when you're ready to post for a new job, you've got the right people in your corner willing to speak on your behalf.

Always keep learning. New skills, new talents, new programs, etc. The more you know, the more opportunities you'll have.

Build your reputation, your brand. Promote it every chance you get, but remember: this is a delicate situation. Make sure you do it in a way that's not offensive, that doesn't take credit for work that your team is doing, and that doesn't paint you as arrogant, obnoxious or conceited.

Now, go out there and get yourself a promotion!

For more FREE tips on advancing your career and navigating the workplace, sign up for my FREE e-zine "Lipstick Leadership" at LipstickLeadership.com today! And check out the products I've developed to guide you toward the success you deserve!

�Words without actions are the assassins of idealism.� � Herbert Hoover