5 Tips for Advancing a Career

Two men look at a piece of paper while one of the men takes notes

The job market constantly evolves, yet one thing remains constant — young professionals strive to advance their careers. Of those who left jobs in 2021, 63% cited lack of advancement opportunities as a principal reason. People want to be challenged in their jobs. They want to build a career with purpose and drive innovation that changes lives. 

Many people want to reach beyond their current career phase and achieve things they never thought possible, and knowing how to set career goals helps these individuals stay on the right path. Some simple career growth tips can help young professionals work toward a meaningful and impactful career. 

How to Set Career Goals

Career goals are concrete landmarks professionals create and follow to advance their careers. The first step for any professional involves determining what success looks like for them. Everyone has unique career goals, and success means various things to different people. For some, success means pioneering solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. For others, it could mean following their passions. 

Professionals should understand their current position and where they want to be. This insight ensures they work toward advancement that suits their lifestyle and allows them to achieve their professional goals. Career goals often change as people advance through their careers. In achieving one goal, another might present itself. Constantly reassessing these goals helps professionals continue moving in the right direction. 

Goal setting gives professionals a clear purpose and drives them in the right direction. Clear and challenging goals also improve work performance, encouraging professionals to perform consistently as they progress through their careers. Career advancement makes for a broad objective, and specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound (SMART) goals provide additional clarity. 

Setting Long-Term Career Goals

Long-term career goals are building blocks professionals can use to lay out a career plan. Many people write down their long-term goals to check their progress periodically and remind themselves of their “why.” 

These goals depend entirely on the person’s interests and areas of professional focus. However, some common examples of long-term career goals include:

  • Working in a dynamic and innovative environment.
  • Advancing to a leadership position.
  • Mentoring or coaching others in their field.
  • Earning a specific amount.
  • Publishing research.

Once these goals exist, they guide professionals to make the choices that will drive them toward their ultimate career destination. In some cases, they may compel people to change careers. In others, they facilitate working and growing within the same diverse organization. 

Setting Short-Term Career Goals

If long-term goals provide the destination, then short-term goals provide the map professionals take to get there. They outline how to achieve career goals in the present and near future. These goals take less time to achieve, but they give professionals the tools they need to reach their long-term goals step-by-step. Professionals should reassess their short-term goals regularly and add more as they achieve them. 

Some examples of short-term career advancement goals include:

  • Attending a seminar or network event.
  • Learning a new skill.
  • Executing a successful project.
  • Growing a professional network.

How to Advance in a Career: 5 Tips for Future-Focused Professionals

With a robust set of long-term and short-term goals, professionals can start taking steps to advance their careers. It can be challenging to know where to start, but the following tips provide some clarity.

Work With a Trusted Mentor

75% of executives credit their success to  their mentors

A mentor highly benefits anyone focused on career advancement. A massive 75% of executives credit their success to mentors who guide new professionals moving through their industry. Mentors provide an unbiased and experienced view of a career person’s strengths. 

Depending on the industry, a mentor can guide their mentee to overcome career challenges and help them revise their career path. They can also expand their mentee’s professional network, help them find resources and provide motivation for continuous growth. 

When seeking a mentor, professionals should choose someone they’re comfortable communicating with so that they can share unique ideas, push boundaries and try new things in a safe and motivational space. Aspiring career people can find mentors by connecting with supervisors, reaching out to senior colleagues, exploring networking platforms or accessing professional organizations. 

Develop a Strong Professional Network

Relationships with successful, positive people are critical to achieving career advancement. Over time, a professional network can open the door to job opportunities, mentorship experiences, collaboration and professional brainstorming. 

Valued professional relationships go both ways. Developing a professional network provides many opportunities to help others. People focused on career advancement should watch for these opportunities, so they can grow and contribute to their network over time. Some steps professionals can take to build their networks include:

  • Using online platforms: Professional networking platforms like LinkedIn and ResearchGate help young professionals stay connected and updated on industry trends or events. 
  • Conducting informational interviews: Informational interviews allow aspiring professionals to gain insights and learn about an established person’s daily life in a particular career. These people provide a great deal of guidance for career advancement. 
  • Attending networking events: Upcoming professionals should attend conferences, seminars and industry events to expand their networks and build professional relationships. 

Focus on Continuous Learning and Skill Development

Professionals looking to advance their careers should adopt a curious mindset and focus on developing in-demand skills that make them assets in any workplace. This mindset helps them invest in their careers and stay current with industry trends, ensuring they can adjust their goals and stay aligned with their chosen industry. 

Taking advantage of opportunities to grow skills could mean participating in formal employee development programs or obtaining additional qualifications. Professionals should also focus on developing soft skills like communication, leadership and time management. 

In the current workplace, 49% of employees want to develop their skills but remain unsure where to start. Having a mentor and a clear set of goals can help professionals focus on the most meaningful learning opportunities. 

Cultivate a Robust Professional Presence

Aspiring professionals must establish what unique value they bring to their organization and career. With this information, they can build a personal brand and professional presence. They can define their unique value proposition by showcasing their expertise, achievements and personal qualities online and in person. 

In today’s career landscape, a professional online presence helps professionals build a personal brand. Professionals can leverage their LinkedIn profiles, personal websites and other social media accounts to bring their diverse talents into the open. 

Seize Opportunities and Take Risks

One of the most exhilarating things about career advancement involves being fearless, taking risks and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Professionals should strive to step out of their comfort zones, taking on challenges and collaborations that highlight their capabilities and unique values. They should be upfront about their career goals and actively pursue advancement opportunities within their organization. 

Any upcoming professional must seek opportunities to align career choices and values. Organizational culture plays a massive role in career advancement. Many professionals thrive when they find a cultural fit for their personalities and goals. In the right organization, professionals feel encouraged to take risks that broaden their skill sets and advance their career paths. 

Take Your Career to the Next Level With Danaher

If you prioritize career advancement, you must work for an organization that encourages growth and pushes the boundaries of what’s possible. When you join the Danaher team, you’ll work alongside leaders in their fields who support and guide you as you shape your career. You’ll see the impact of your work as you innovate and revolutionize solutions to some of the world’s most critical challenges. 

As a global pioneer in diagnostics, life sciences and biotechnology, we want to help others advance their careers, creating tangible solutions that change lives. Elevate your career with Danaher. Join our talent community and browse our available job opportunities today!

A young professional smiles at the camera