This Week in Positive Change Management : Getting out of the Middle

01182016 No More Middle

This is the time of your when people start looking at how they can have a better New year than last year. Oftentimes, receiving a promotion is at the top of the list. Well, there are certain things that are holding you back. I have four tips that you will get out of the middle and ascend up the corporate ladder.

Focus on your brand and not just a job

Unbeknownst to me, I focused on my brand early and I professionally benefitted from this. When you define your personal career brand, I looked at how my transferrable skills fit in with other positions. It is an egregious error to only identify yourself as your job. This is dangerous because you become confided to that box. Had I been so narrow to only economic jobs, I would still be a GS-11 economist. Once a layoff hits, then you are through. Identifying your transferable skills repositions yourself as a brand because you can work in other areas.  Your career brand transcends your job.

Obtain certification

Certification distinguishes you from the rest. Take my field, project management for example. Earning your PMP certification separates you from everyone else. PMP requires a certain amount of work experience. You don’t see many young or middle-tier professionals with PMP certifications. Furthermore, obtaining certification means that you are a self-starter. This gets you noticed internally and externally.

Expand your network vertically

The one reason why you’re stuck is because all of your networking friends are at the same level. You know everyone you’ve started with me but nobody one or two levels above you. That’s horizontal networking and that’s problematic when you truly want to advance. Find a professional organization and attend the formal functions (Christmas party, annual charity ball, etc.). These events have the board members and senior officials. Once they know your name, they can become your mentors and sponsors guiding your career upward.

Get out of career inertia

I broke out of career inertia by leaving my first fed agency. I saw career inertia upfront. I left my economist position to grow. Although disgruntled, many coworkers stayed because they were comfortable. Now this year, my formal agency is moving out of state. Those same coworkers are going right along with the agency even though they hate leaving DC. Career inertia sneaks up on you. You start getting comfortable then make excuses for your fear. Getting out of the middle means putting yourself in motion.

These four tips will help you lay the groundwork towards realizing this year’s career ambitions.

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