It’s common for new graduates to enter the jobs market with high hopes for a rapid career progression. After all, that’s why you spent tens of thousands on your education. That’s why you studied to midnight and worked all those unpaid internships. Yet it can be hugely disappointing to find that first jobs rarely progress to anything beyond entry level. Unless you are on a clearly defined graduate program with a respected employer, you might be stuck on the first rung for a while. If you’d entered that job as a school leaver, you could have been earning all this time!
Don’t panic. There are plenty of barriers to promotion, even for graduates. But that doesn’t mean you can’t overcome them. Starter jobs may be mundane and time may pass slowly. Because they’re not challenging and you can complete tasks quickly, it means you can seek out additional duties. You can speak to senior colleagues and try out other entry level positions. Gain a detailed overview of the whole company. This is hugely valuable. And finding out the answers to company problems could be just the thing to get you noticed.
Of course, it’s not just slow progression we need to be wary of. There are colleagues that can hinder your advancement too. If you feel that certain employees are behaving inappropriately, you should seek the advice of a sexual harassment attorney. This is regardless of whether they have any say in your promotion opportunities. But if you have a boss that just won’t give you the break you deserve, you should feel confident about going over their head. Speak to the HR team about progression opportunities internally. Ask them what you need to do to be considered. Confirm you can report back to them with the evidence indicators you need to qualify.
Despite having a great degree, it is essential you adopt a lifelong learner’s attitude. Subscribe or borrow the trade magazines for your industry. Enroll in seminars and lectures about your field of interest. And definitely continue to add formal qualifications to your arsenal. You may not want the expense of a graduate degree. But there are hundreds of great short courses that you can take online, at your community center, or as a weekend attachment. Your employer may fund them as part of your personal development. Be sure to bring something back from each one that can support the business. With the best qualifications, you are more likely to be promoted over a lesser qualified colleague.
Is it all about brown-nosing? In a way, yes. Social etiquettes are definitely required if you want to be considered for an internal promotion. However, flirting is definitely not the way to get ahead. Common courtesies are essential, and an interest in the people on your team is good. Be friendly, polite, fun and professional to be seen as the right person for advancement.
The company you work for could itself be a barrier to promotion. You may need to take on a more senior role in a different firm to get the pay rise and advancement you’re looking for. Be brave, and do what it takes to get where you deserve to be.