What is Career Progression?

See that career ladder in front of you?  It’s got 8 rungs.  You’re on the bottom one.  You’re wondering how to get to the top rung? 

When faced with a ladder like this, most people’s natural response is to work out what they have to do to reach the next rung up.  And then the next one.  And then the next.

In the best companies, the advice for how to climb this ladder is really clear and obvious.  Some steps will be harder to make, but the information is there and readily available.

And so it begins.  People begin to strive for the next rung up and that becomes their (sole focus) goal.

This is the pattern in professional services firms like for lawyers, financial services, accountancy etc. 

There is a prescribed pathway that your shiny new professional qualification demands that you follow. 

Trainee > Newly Qualified > Junior Solicitor > Senior Solicitor > Associate > Senior Associate > Junior Partner > Partner.

The words and names will be different between firms, but the premise is the same.

But not everyone wants to follow that prescribed career ladder.

• Some may feel that at Rung #4 (say), they’re quite happy where they are.
• Some may get to Rung #2 and then choose to switch to a similar ladder and go from there.
• Some may reach Rung #6 and then decide to swap to a different ladder completely and start from the bottom again.

Great, fine, you do you.

But this ladder stuff is very narrow minded.  I encourage you to think about career progression as something other than job title, status and financial reward.

Because that’s what the career ladder delivers.

Junior to Senior.

Part of a team to managing a team.

£40,000 > £80,000 pa

But what if you see career progression differently?  As a mix of job skills development, soft skills development and personal development.

If your goal then becomes to

a) learn 3 new technical skills that are relevant for your role
b) become more self-aware, empathetic and emotionally intelligent
c) help out in your local community and learn the guitar

… who’s to say that you’re not growing and progressing?