How to Move from an Entry-Level Job to a More Senior Position
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September 2019, by Julie Bouchard
Candidates
4-minute read

While you really like your job, you want to move up the ladder – but how can you make it happen? Here are four expert tips to help you get that promotion.

Moving up to a higher-level position in your company takes time. It also requires a strategy, some planning and considerable personal investment. Julie Bouchard, Senior Consultant, Talent Acquisition, at St-Amour shares her advice on the best ways to achieve your goal.

 
1.    Do your homework

“Moving from a junior position to a more senior position isn’t something that happens in a few months. In the best-case scenario, you shouldn’t expect to be promoted for at least 18 to 24 months, and in some professions – like those regulated by an order – there may be certain predetermined requirements for top-level positions.” 

 

In exceptional cases, you may be offered a promotion sooner if you show a lot of potential within a short time. This recently happened to a young engineer recruited by St-Amour, who was given the chance to become a manager and supervise the work of two technicians just eight months after his hiring. If this happens to you, you should be delighted – but keep your feet on the ground and ask for supervision and support in your new role. 

No matter what, take advantage of your first job to learn about your company, its market and how it operates. Take the time to observe how information is shared and to understand and master procedures. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or do some research to find the right information. This approach will serve you well throughout your career, notes Julie. 

2.    Excel in your entry-level job

All this preparation and effort will help you gain experience and enhance your skills in your current role. Before looking to advance, you should make sure you’re completely comfortable with your responsibilities, delivering excellent results and exceeding expectations.

“A company will only promote someone if they believe he has potential and his skills will be an asset in the short or medium term.” 

 

Here are three things you can do to help you achieve superior performance:

  • Bring added value to your work. Don’t hesitate to go the extra mile when conducting research, to refine or enhance a monthly report or to perfect a method. 
  • Improve what isn’t working (e.g., streamline a procedure) so you can perform your assigned duties at a higher level. By doing this, you’ll also make the job much better for your successor. She’ll appreciate it, which could prove beneficial if you become her manager.  
  • Stay up to date. This means pursuing professional development on your own time. You could, for instance, take part in webinars during your lunch break, develop a professional network so you’ll be aware of what’s going on elsewhere in your field or even take night classes with the aim of obtaining a license or certification. 

 

However, putting in more hours is not a sine qua non for earning a promotion. You should certainly lend your colleagues a hand when you can, but if you spend twice as long as expected on your assigned tasks, people might think it’s because you’re not good at managing your time.

3.    Demonstrate professionalism and initiative

To move up a rung, it’s not enough to gain experience – you also have to demonstrate professionalism at all times.

“If you’re targeting a management position, your attitude needs to be irreproachable. Avoid gossiping about people, stay as neutral as possible, respect the privacy of others and base your actions on the facts.”


You also shouldn’t hesitate to show initiative by accepting some responsibilities that go beyond your job description. For example, you could coordinate a lunch lecture or take part in casual activities, such as recreational sports organized outside of the office, to demonstrate your engagement in the team and the company.

Finally, Julie recommends communicating clearly with your manager:

“It’s important to communicate in an active, transparent manner. If you’re targeting a promotion, it’s highly likely that your manager will be involved in the decision. You need to let him or her know of your intention to advance.”

 

4.    Be a team player

People rarely succeed alone. Be aware of how your fellow team members contribute to the success of your work and projects, and make a point of thanking them. You should make yourself available to help out if needed, without going overboard by constantly offering assistance.

“Listening to others is key. You need to find the right level of involvement.”


You could also share knowledge and information with your colleagues. They will be very appreciative and chances are some of them will return the favour, which will likely prove beneficial to your career development. 

When faced with problems and adversity, stay positive.

“If you have a problem-solving mentality, you’re more likely to attract the attention of senior management than someone who’s in the habit of complaining. You’re also more likely to be entrusted with greater responsibility.” 


Now it’s up to you! 

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