The construction industry is brimming with opportunities for advancement. From onsite leadership to management, there are lots of different ways to develop your building career.
It can be challenging to set yourself apart in such a competitive industry, but there are a few strategies you can implement to fast-track your career growth.
Here are some actionable steps to improve your chances of a promotion.
- Set Clear Goals
- Keep Learning
- Keep Your Options Open
Set Clear Goals
Planning where you want to go in your career is a vital first step in mapping out your progression and how you’ll get there.
Your plan should include more than just that next step – there’s no point in taking a higher paying job or a better sounding title if it doesn’t then lead you on to other opportunities, especially ones you want (versus those you don’t).
A five-year plan is a great starting point.
Think about where you want to be in five years. What role do you picture yourself in? What would you like to have accomplished by then? Work backward from here, and create key career milestones to help you know whether you’re on track.
Be aware though, your mind may try to trick you into believing your goal isn’t attainable. It may start spouting all the reasons you won’t get promoted or you won’t achieve your goal. This is just your mind trying to keep you safe inside your comfort zone. But it’s lying to you! The key to planning & achieving your goal is to be aware that your mind may do this and not listening to its wile stories.
You may also find yourself stuck because you think you don’t know HOW to plan & achieve your career goals. Again, don’t let your mind fool you with this. Follow these simple steps to find the way, so just decide where it is you want to go and the ‘HOW’ will unveil itself.
While developing your own skillset will always be a crucial part in landing that promotion, it’s true that expanding your network can play a role, too.
Start within your own company. Who can you speak to that’s already working in that position, or a similar job? Ask to meet with them over a coffee if possible. If the first person you approach says no, keep asking other relevant people until someone says yes.
Once you meet with them, ask them all about their own career progression. How did they get where you want to go? What sort of skills and experience did they have that you may need? What sort of mentoring/networking did they do to help them achieve their goals?
It’s not ever necessary to re-invent the wheel on your own. Take the insights and learnings from the successful people that have gone before you on the same path you want to travel and start doing it yourself.
Don’t be afraid to build your network outside of your company, either. LinkedIn is a great tool to connect with people working in your ideal role. Sending a connection request can seem a little daunting, but remember – if you don’t ask, you don’t receive.
Sharing your goals with others is also a way to open up opportunities for yourself. If you keep your career goals too close to your chest, no one will ever know what you want, so how can they help you achieve it?
One last note on networking in the construction industry: as one of the largest employing industries in Australia, you’d think people wouldn’t know of each other, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone knows everyone in construction, and the higher up the ladder you go, the closer those connections become. This means you better network, network, network! Get yourself known in industry. And never underestimate the power of asking for or talking about what you want at the same time because you may just connect with the person who knows someone who can give it to you.
When it comes to choosing who to promote, employers usually aren’t looking at who’s been at the business the longest or who’s the nicest person on the job site. They’re looking at who delivers consistent, high quality work.
Showing initiative beyond your job description demonstrates to your employer that you’re a motivated team player. Be the person who puts their hand up for extra work or who comes up with innovative solutions to problems facing your team. Be vocal enough & helpful enough to be valuable to your employer and your team. Solution focussed go-getters are held in high esteem in construction.
It’s key to set sustainable habits, however. Don’t overwork yourself or set standards that you’re unable to maintain.
Improving your knowledge of your role, company or industry is a surefire way to stand out from other potential promotion candidates.
This learning can take many forms. Perhaps there’s a short course you can do over a weekend, or maybe you can complete a Diploma online around your day job. Ask for learning opportunities within your company. There are often leadership, environment & tech courses (to name just a few) that are offered within many Builders, and if not at yours, you can research outside training/courses and ask your employer to put you through it.
Upskilling doesn’t always have to come in the form of qualifications. Finding a mentor – someone who’s done or is doing the job you want – can also help you to identify the areas you need to work on. Only take advice from someone with proven success, though.
Learn from as many people as possible – both successful and unsuccessful. Implement the successful steps and learn what to avoid from the unsuccessful ones. Ensure you stay true to yourself though. Only take on what feels right for you from other people’s experiences, otherwise, you may end up living someone else’s dreams rather than your own.
If the only times you chat to your boss are on break or in a formal performance review, you could be missing out on key opportunities to develop your career.
When you communicate openly with your employer about your goals, often they’ll do what they can to help you achieve them. Talk about what you want as often as you can!
Communicating with your team is just as important. Participating in team discussions demonstrates you take your role seriously, that you’re a team player, that you’re solution focussed and that you have worthy ideas to share.
Just remember, communication is all about quality over quantity. Don’t make contributions just for the sake of it – try jotting down some dot points before meetings, so you feel prepared to engage in the discussion.
Keep Your Options Open
If you’ve been implementing these strategies, you should be well placed to ask your employer for a promotion when an opportunity arises.
Come armed with your achievements and how they’ve positively impacted the business. An understanding of the new role’s requirements will help you to tailor what you say and prove that you’re ready for the responsibility.
If you’ve been exceeding expectations but that promotion doesn’t seem likely, it’s time to consider opportunities elsewhere.
Approach your job search in the same way – frame your achievements around your suitability for the role you want. This will help to demonstrate for a potential employer that you’ve done your homework and you’re ready for the challenge.
It’s not hard to plan out the pathway to your dream role and score your next promotion but it certainly can feel like it at times. With these simple steps as building blocks it breaks down the feeling of overwhelm by giving you a clear ‘how’ to do it.
And remember, your mind can be a tricky little sucker, so be ready for the negative self-talk it’ll likely dish up. From there, it’s all about following your own plan. And when you get that promotion, simply use this strategy again to climb that next rung, and the sky will be your only limit.
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