So how does one add value to oneself? Here are five steps that will meet all your career advancement needs:
Learning is an ongoing lifelong process, we learn a little from everything we do. Career advancement requires a structured form of learning. If you are aspiring to a higher role within or outside your organisation, you need to identify the competency that role demands and go about acquiring the same. Some of the best-managed companies provide such learning tools to their employees.
Know yourself and where you stand -- it's important if you're planning your own growth chart. We are assessed by others whenever we are interviewed for job openings and promotions, so stay one step ahead and assess yourself first. You need to work on areas where there is room for improvement. If you come from a technology background, for example and you think you have mastered a particular technological tool, go ahead and get certified. This will add a lot of value to your professional standing and will pay off richly in future.
Life's lessons are learned through community interaction and that holds true for our professional lives too. Whenever you get time off from your busy schedule, utilise it positively by interacting with your peers and discussing common areas of interest. If you can't meet up in person, use the Internet -- there are lots of professional networking portals and some of them have large numbers of qualified professionals as members. This informal knowledge-gathering complements the disciplined self-learning approach discussed above.
Everyone needs expert advice and counselling from time to time. We hear about godfathers and political gurus all the time, but unfortunately we do not recognise the relevance of professional mentors, thanks to the job opportunities economic growth has brought to India. There are, however, several intelligent folk who model their careers along similar lines as their seniors and heed the latter's advice in matters involving career growth. Sometimes it's also a good idea to opt for career counselling -- it helps one identify which professional path has the maximum scope for growth and job satisfaction.
Look before you leap
Several youngsters take up new jobs/designations because they offer better monetary compensation. If you are clear about your career growth pattern, monetary return should be a secondary criterion -- first comes future growth potential. You also need to verify offers made to you by potential employers or your boss -- discuss your new responsibilities thoroughly and only if you are completely convinced should you take up the new challenge.