About the Episode
Wanting to advance our careers but seeing no positions available at the next level in our organizations can be extremely frustrating! Rightfully so! We want our careers to progress AND know there is the ability to do so. Having the ability to advance upwards is absolutely critical to this!
So, how do we handle when we don’t see options at the next level? It’s a very common question, and one that actually has many answers to it! Join me as I explore how we can advance our careers even when we don’t see that next level being readily available in our organization.
Hello, everyone, and welcome back again to another episode of the G.R.I.T. – Give, Recognize, Implement Time® podcast. I’m your host, Steve Nathenson, CEO and founder of Strive for More. And I want to follow up on the last episode that we talked about in terms of advancing our career in terms of what do I do if the next level isn’t available within my organization? Now, as we grow upwards and we advance our careers, positions become more limited. There’s a lot more individual contributors than there are say, managers than directors than vice presidents than C-suite. The top of the pyramid, if you will, does get smaller. There’s less things available. What do we do? Part of the answer is, as we well know, there’s not only internal options that are open, but there’s external options for us as well. When we look at growing our careers and we want to continue to go upwards, and if there isn’t options available internally, we certainly can look externally as well.
Now, as a brief aside, we are going to focus a little bit on external first, but we’re going to focus more on what we do internally as well. But externally, one of the big advantage of going externally is there’s a benefit to jumping for more money. Universally across the board, it is easier to get a greater raise going external to a different organization than it is internal. Right, wrong, or indifferent, that’s just universally across the board, one of those roles of thumb. Part of what we consider when we’re advancing our career and going upwards is the additional money something that is an absolute must for me? And that blends into something we’ve talked about before is these three buckets. The importance for us, what are we looking for in terms of roles and responsibility? What are we looking for in terms of culture and fit?
And then what are we looking for financially? These can very much come into play. Internally, when we advance our career, typically organizations are going to have, say, pay bands, right? A range of where we fall and then a step by step progression for us in terms of where those pay bands go. And we typically have individual contributor tracks. We typically have manager tracks. If we’re going from, say, a principal engineer up into management, there may be a bigger jump because we’re going into that pay band, but still with the cross connect, they may not jump you to as much as perhaps you would externally. It definitely can be a factor. Also, as we’ve grown our career and we come towards, say, the ending half of it, or even closer to retirement, part of it can be what is the legacy that I want to leave?
Maybe I don’t want to jump ship. Maybe I have enough money for my current salary. And that’s a non-factor for me. Part of that can be then as I grow and advance my career, have I been able to lead that kind of legacy that I have wanted to do? Does it require going to that next level? Can I do that in my current role and level? These are great questions because we don’t always have to advance our careers upwards. We’ve talked about that before. It’s completely okay to stay where we are if that’s what we want. As we grow and we move upwards, these are some great questions to ask. Now you may very well come back and say, you know what, Steve, yeah, I want that vice president title. That’s the last title I want before I retire. Then by all means, let’s go for it.
It comes back to what do we want? In that internal option, how long are we willing to wait? Maybe currently you’re starting to get that bug. I’ve been in my role for four or five years. I’m ready to move upwards. How long can we wait for that to open up? There may be folks in that role that are ready to retire within the next one or two years. Yeah. You know what? I can do that. I can wait. Or maybe they’ve all got 10 years to go and no one’s showing signs of leaving. It is a great question because if that’s the case, and let’s say we’re in a smaller organization, maybe there isn’t going to be anything that opens up soon. And maybe, say, that 10 year timeframe is past how long I’m willing to wait to get to that because maybe that’s when I’m ready to retire or I want to make an impact sooner than that. Part of this question is how long are we willing to wait?
One of the other factors that’s also a role in it that we talked about last time is this image and this exposure piece. Have we heavily relied on that enough to be able to step into that next level when it does become available? Or perhaps when the organization is growing, is there a business case to carve out, say, a new vice president position for a new business unit? And we set ourselves up for success in having a really good chance of getting it because of the image we’ve created and the exposure that we have to the folks who are going to be spearheading that effort. That’s another thing that I think is foundational. When we don’t readily have a new spot available, there are ways to create one for ourselves. And if we foundationally have the reputation or the image and we’ve foundationally have those relationships with the people who can make that happen for us, the exposure, the opportunity, then it’s easier to take advantage of it.
Those are our options available to us. If there’s no changes or shifts in the organization, and we’re a smaller unit, let’s say, and let’s continue with the example of vice president level, it doesn’t look like anyone’s going to be going anywhere anytime soon. Maybe the question is, if I want to get to that level, I have to jump externally. Or if it’s a reasonable timeframe, maybe I can wait it out. And perhaps there’s a question of maybe I’m okay here and I’ll see how it goes over the next year or two. But at that point, that’s my point in no return, if you will. After two more years, if something doesn’t open up, then I know I’m going to go external. Within that timeframe or even currently perhaps there’s opportunities to grow a new business unit, to carve out a new position.
Can we create a business case that supports that? So just because the position doesn’t exist doesn’t mean it can’t be created, but typically businesses look for a very specific and valuable business case that allows us to create that position and supports the necessity for it. That’s actually one option that is available to us. If we are, say, a larger organization, perhaps out of our own business unit, there’s other vice president options available. That’s another thing internally is I may want to look outside of my org, if you will, my business unit, my business line, depending on terminology in your organization. And that could be an option too. We don’t always have to stay within that same chain of command, if you will. With all of that being said, if that doesn’t become an option, then the external looks a little bit more enticing.
There’s a lot of different options for us in terms of how to advance our career if something’s not readily available at the moment. And a lot of it can be there’s internal and external options, which one am I willing to explore? Which one of these three buckets that I talked about, the roles and responsibilities, the culture and fit, and then the finances, are really important to you? And as we move upwards in our career and become closer to that retirement, I think that legacy question is also very important. What kind of legacy do I want to be? What position level allows me to do that? How far am I on it now? That becomes a good question for us that can also dictate whether we even need to advance the career or not, or help us figure out what role and responsibilities are going to allow us to finish creating that legacy that we want to leave. Time. Time’s another factor. How close to retirement are we? How long are we willing to wait for something to open up?
And then have we been able to build the image or the reputation and the foundational relationships, the exposure, to have opportunity to be able to put a business case forward for a new position? And if all that’s still available and we come to that point of no return we discussed, then perhaps it’s time for me to look at external. There’s a lot of different options. There’s a lot of things that come into consideration. It’s always going to be personalized for you, so there’s no right or wrong answer. It’s what we always feel is best for us. And that’s perhaps the last point that I want to lead with. With all these different options and ways to advance that career, when seemingly there’s no positions left, it really comes down to what you truly want, when you really want it, and what’s reasonable for me to do it and the important factors in my life that are going to help me dictate which way do I go? Until the next time, remember, if we never try, we never will. If we never ask, we’ll never know. Be the movement in your life.
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