In April of 2019, I was promoted to Content Marketing Team Lead. Then in December, I was promoted to Content Marketing Supervisor, which basically means I have control over our content/digital strategy, assist with project management, and oversee a cross-functional team of writers, automation specialists, and web developers.
In less than two and a half years with my company, how did I advance from an entry-level position to a senior position with people working below me?
As marketing guru Set Godin said, “You can learn a new skill, today, for free. You can take on a new task at work, right now, without asking anyone. You can make a connection, find a flaw, contribute an insight, now. Or not.”
It’s this philosophy that has taken my career growth to the next level.
Sure, I could give the classic monotonous list and tell you to “be a team player!” or “keep a positive attitude!”. But that really isn’t it.
Conceptualize why you really want this new role. Personally, it had little to do with money, titles, or pride. I wanted to prove that the semi-irregular work habits I had set in place for myself were actually effective.
And after everything I’ve tested, learned, and ultimately implemented, I can honestly credit my promotion to two high-level habits.
1. Practice What Your Preach OUTSIDE Of The Office
Put in 8-hour days. Cash checks. Complain about your job. That’s a soft attitude, and it’s how many people approach their careers. You may not realize this, but it’s glaringly obvious when someone doesn’t really care about the work they’re doing, showing up to punch in and punch out every day.
It isn’t enough to bank on longevity and connections for career growth within your company. You need to take real action that is relevant and quantifiable.
The moment my career took a drastic turn for the better was when I decided to allocate a chunk of my free time outside of the office to learning and writing. I read marketing/growth hacking/advertising books and blogs instead of stumbling around YouTube. I turned off the TV and started writing on Medium to hone my craft. One day I decided to take a Google Analytics certification for fun. Another day was Content Marketing on Hubspot. I even began practicing negotiation and strategy in a low stake’s environment on Fiverr.
All of these activities proved to be incredibly beneficial in their own ways.
For example, after the very first article I published reflecting on my experiences one year after graduating, I had multiple people come up to me at work and exclaim “we need you to write like that here!”.
One of these individuals was my direct boss which opened up a conversation about where I should be taking my career, eventually leading to a promotion.
Don’t go through the motions in the office and then shut it off at home.
Working outside of work shows you are engaged, interested, and willing to better yourself and the team.
2. Pursue New Projects, Unhindered By Fear
“If you’re not making some notable mistakes along the way, you’re certainly not taking enough business and career chances.” — Sallie Krawcheck
Employees are commonly misguided to fear making mistakes. I’m not saying to intentionally miss deadlines or turn in a project with poor grammar, but the value of pushing yourself to the brink of failure in your career at different moments is that it reveals your limitations.
The pressure of the unknown forces you to structure your time efficiently, identify and prioritize what matters most to you, and weigh the trade-offs of your decisions.
I spend a lot of time reflecting on where I’ve been and where I am now. Day one out of college I was riding my bike to an internship. Now I own a car and have a real influence on a rapidly growing tech company.
Nothing would have changed had I remained complacent. I owe a lot of my success to the ambitious actions I’ve taken to keep moving forward. Of course, there were missteps along the way, but each one provided an invaluable learning experience.
Last year I was presented with an opportunity that would require a lot of work in an unstable and unproven division of our company. I had zero experience with healthcare and small doses of client-facing practice, especially from a marketing lead standpoint. There were many moments where I had to take control of situations and make decisions without letting the fear of failure influence my judgment.
Since I started, we have successfully launched a website, built a reputable partner network, and acquired our first multi-million-dollar accounts.
So push yourself to the brink of failure- you’ll be seriously surprised how much you’re capable of.
We like to blame our boss, lack of experience, and organizational structure for hindering upward mobility.
But have you done everything in your power to make other’s notice how valuable you are to the organization?
Do you put a majority of your free-time towards career development?
Do you pursue new projects or wait for someone to drop them on your lap?
These are the differences that separate an ordinary employee from an extraordinary one. Trust me, making these changes will be worth it in the end.