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Career advancement is an integral part of an individual’s professional journey. It is an indicator of development and takes many forms. Improved skills, additional scope, and new responsibilities are among the factors that lead to career advancement. Advancement can happen within your industry or even beyond. My path shows that you do not even need to stay in one industry, as I have moved between engineering and law, to now serve as general counsel at a technology company.
Career advancement comes with a number of advantages: it can increase your job satisfaction and compensation. Professional, new roles can also provide you with a forum to make a more significant impact, and overall, can improve the quality of your life. Ideally, career advancement should happen organically; however, being intentional, preparing yourself for a promotion, and pursuing new things proactively places you in a better position to be considered. You can advance your career in these six ways:
Being excellent at your job is an essential factor for success. Your performance helps others build trust in you. With a proven track record, others will want to work with you and will come to you with new opportunities. I remember my manager at IBM coming to me with an opportunity to take on a leadership role because of the success I had in moving a previously stagnant project forward. I was seen as someone who could get things done, and he saw how my skills could be used in a bigger role. Great work helps to earn the respect of everyone around you, but it is not a one-time thing, it requires continuous effort and improvement.
In addition, excellence at work is not just the work product you create, but how you create it. It is important to be able to collaborate with your colleagues and be seen as a trusted partner.
It is critical to set specific and objective career goals for yourself. Often, these goals are informed by your job description and what success really means to you. In my career, I have learned this lesson quite well: if you know what you want from your career, you can keep moving toward that goal, even if the movement is slow.
Communicating your goals also helps others support you in your journey. They will not only act as witnesses to your progress but also be able to help you find the people or resources you may need to meet goals.
Change is a part of work, from new knowledge and skills to new people to work with. It is valuable to have a plan for seeking out and ingesting new information so that you are ready when the time comes to use it.
Another way to gain new skills is to take on different roles that expose you to different experiences that can enhance your versatility. New skills are not just about your area of expertise but being able to grow beyond that area of expertise.
While it is valuable to gain new experiences in preparation for a new role, social capital is also important. Maintaining old friendships while creating new ones allows you to establish a diverse network of peers and individuals with whom you can talk and exchange ideas.
When working with others, be generous with your time and put effort into creating meaningful relationships, not just “networking” because it is something you should do, but building a relationship because you find it interesting.
At Cadence, we have great resources to help women build a broad set of relationships. I have enjoyed mentoring women at Cadence, and part of that role for me has been to introduce mentees to others around the company that can help them with their careers. Remember, while internal organizations can help you build a network of peers and mentors, working closely with your managers is even more crucial to advancing your career and getting promoted.
To advance your career, it is important to build strong relationships with your managers. Align your goals with your manager's goals, and be proactive in seeking out new challenges and opportunities. Regularly communicate with your manager about your progress, challenges, and accomplishments, and seek feedback to improve your performance.
Building positive relationships with your colleagues and stakeholders can also be beneficial in advancing your career. When I took over the management of the commercial team of Cadence’s Legal Department, I had to work closely with both team members and leaders from both the sales and legal teams. This collaboration enhanced my work performance. Focusing on building trust and respect with the managers and colleagues you collaborate with ends up being invaluable. Be reliable, responsive, and supportive of others, and look for ways to add value to their work. Take the time to understand their perspectives and work styles, and be willing to compromise when necessary.
It's also important to stay focused on your goals and avoid getting distracted by office politics or other negative dynamics. Keep a positive attitude and maintain your professionalism, even in challenging situations. Your hard work and dedication will be noticed by your superiors, and you will be rewarded for it.
Ultimately, building positive relationships with colleagues and stakeholders is not just good for your career, but it can also make work more enjoyable and fulfilling. By investing in these relationships, you can create a supportive and collaborative work environment that benefits everyone.
Your personal brand expresses the deepest parts that make up you. Communicate effectively what your core values, purpose, and strengths are.
With a formidable brand, you influence people’s perception of you. A personal brand speaks to your employers, stakeholders, peers, and prospects. It articulates your competitive advantage effortlessly, selling your brand on your behalf.
While thinking about your brand—and I am glad I understood the impact of a well-defined personal and professional brand—be specific about who you want to connect with, the platform you’d love to reach out to them on, and what valuable aspects of yourself you will share with them.
You have the power to influence your personal and professional development and subsequently influence the advancement of your career, even to promotion. By leveraging the collaborative efforts of exemplary performance, impeccable work ethic, great team membership, and the enthusiasm to learn and improve yourself you can build an even stronger career. Keep working hard and reaching out, and you will continue to grow, both as a person and in your career.
Karna Nisewaner has served as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Cadence since September 2022.