Top-Shelf Tip No. 177:

"I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions."

Stephen Covey

Identifying The Right Job For Career Growth

I'm a seasoned marketer and I recently landed a new job. Looking back, I realize this is my sixth significant job change in my career, yet I made this move for very different reasons. Early in my career, I was looking to build a variety of skills. I went from a small, family-run company to a large Fortune 50 organization to then a boutique agency. These were different environments that allowed me to build different skill sets. In my mid-career the goal was all about fitting my job into my lifestyle, while filling in any missing gaps. This led me to have my own freelance business while my kids were young and then later building specific skills in vertical industries. Now, with this latest (and hopefully final) jump, it's about ensuring I reach my end goal as a successful marketer—as a higher-level strategic contributor to the organization's growth.

Most companies will say they offer career growth, but how do you make sure the company fosters growth and that your role has opportunity for growth? Caroline Ceniza-Levine, a career change expert, says there are five ways to make sure before you make the leap. We'll share these in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

Compare the new job to your existing resume. Regardless of the company you're joining, the job itself could be a growth opportunity because it fills a gap in your resume. This could be because of a skill, such as use of a particular software, product development or other skill. The job might also expand your management experience of people, budgets or projects.

Review upcoming projects and responsibilities. During the interview process, confirm the day-to-day responsibilities, as well as projects in the pipeline. Ask how success will be measured and what specific results the company is looking for. Are you challenged and excited by what you hear? Will getting this job done test your abilities and stretch your comfort zone? If career growth is a priority, you want to ensure there is enough variability in the job to keep you challenged.

Look at the people who came before you. Also during the interview process, ask what happened to the person in the role before you. If they moved up in the company, that's a good sign. If they moved into a good role in another company, that's still a good sign. Keep in mind that the issue with your role could be how it's structured or it could be the boss. If you can, ask people who know your prospective boss whether he or she coaches and mentors the team.

Check the overall company's track record for people development. Not just for your role, but for the company overall, look at where people who have left the company have landed. Do people move into bigger roles and brand-name companies? Or do people take lateral moves into roles with the same responsibilities (a potential sign that they were just looking to get out or that experience at that company doesn't propel people upward)?

Confirm how you're defining career growth so you look at the right factors. Let's say you have worked exclusively at large companies but want to migrate to start-ups. A career-growing move might be to take a role at a smaller company, even if it comes with a smaller team and/or a smaller scope. If it gets you into a different kind of environment and proves you can work more hands-on and with fewer resources, then this could be exactly what your career needs.

Make sure you understand what you're looking for in a career move, then ask the right questions to ensure your next step is the right fit.

Source: Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career change expert and the co-founder of SixFigureStart and Costa Rica FIRE. She specializes in helping executives, entrepreneurs and creatives make a great living doing work they love.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

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