So, do you want to get ahead? Who doesn’t? However, sometimes you have to create the path because if you sit and wait for it to come to you, you may be waiting a long time.

During an employment interview, a candidate will occasionally disclose they’re considering a position as only a “stepping stone.” For example, while working for a graphic design company, I interviewed a designer who said they wanted to join our design team for the experience to use toward working at an advertising agency. This person had a plan and was creating their own path, but they may have missed an opportunity.

No More Gold Watch 

The era of the gold watch is long gone. People entering the job market don’t expect to work for one organization throughout their lifetime. They most likely will have multiple careers. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities within an organization to create your own path.

Brad’s Story 

My friend, Brad, began working at a small manufacturing plant in his early twenties — by the time he was 40, he was assistant plant manager. Then the plant closed. After several months of looking for work, he took a job, near minimum wage, in an outbound call center. At the time, it was all he could find. Almost as an afterthought, the company setup a booth at two trade shows each year with the purpose of brand recognition and lead generation. Brad volunteered to work the shows. He did well, researched other shows, presented the idea of expanding into additional shows to management, and they gave him the go ahead.

At first, he worked out of his car with little more than a table and brochures (his gas wasn’t even reimbursed!). And he did this after completing his hours in the call center and on weekends. Eventually, he was in so many shows, they gave him a company truck and built displays. Four years later, he was promoted to Vice President of the trade show division — a department he’d created — which accounted for 1/3 of the company’s revenue. He made his own path within the organization.

Where Will You Path Lead? 

While there may be nothing wrong with creating a path that includes working your way up through several companies — don’t be blind to opportunities within an organization. Consider the designer who wanted the resume-filling experience; could he have accepted an entry-level position, then worked toward building an in-house advertising department? I don’t have the answer, but I know this: If anyone had asked if my friend would’ve created a new trade show division, and become vice president in four years — I would have said no. Keep your eyes and options open. The path you hope to create may be closer than you believe. So, do you want to get ahead?

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Does your business have a  management training plan? Many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.

Photo by Nagy Arnold on Unsplash