For the past couple of months, someone asks me every day what the next big move should be in their career. I can honestly say there are no big next moves but rather small, incremental day-to-day changes you can make to improve your career and get to the next step.

Seek Forgiveness, Not Permission

The old adage “seek forgiveness rather than permission” works well in a career context. Work hard, take on more responsibility, and, most importantly, do the job you want to be promoted to right now. It’s not about interviewing for your next role/job/title/salary, it’s about performing the new job tasks, taking on the responsibility and doing what needs to be done to get to the next level.

To increase your chances of being promoted, you have to do the job you want to be promoted into while filling the job you are leaving. Find your replacement before you get your new business card. I’m not saying that it’s easy. We are in between major career revolutions and you must be proactive and push the limits of your current role. Don’t wait for permission; if you are proactive, title and compensation will follow.

Five Career Advancement Steps

Below are five things you can do today to advance your career and get noticed:

     1. Interview Others – Interview professionals around you to become a topic matter expert.   Ask questions, get involved in the game, have an opinion for yourself and your organization. You will get noticed by asking questions and, at the end of eight weeks, you will understand the issues have some answers.

      2. Take on a New Challenge – Ask colleagues what they are doing and what their biggest challenge is at the moment. Pick any challenge: governance, privacy, security, risk or compliance – those big five impact all organizations. Look left, right, up and down and put yourself into middle of the circle. Understand the challenges your company faces and do something about it, even if it is just one small thing.

     3. Talk to Vendors – Now is a great time to invite vendors in for a cup of coffee to “school you up” on the latest and greatest technology. Say “yes” to demos when vendors offer to demonstrate new technology.

     4. Be invaluable – Be inventive, insatiable, indispensable, and inquisitive. This traits will help you become an invaluable member of your organization and help you advance in your career.

     5. Become a subject matter expert – Did you know that there are less than 100 subject matter experts in privacy, security and governance in the Am Law 200? It takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to become an expert in a field, according to Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers and Tipping Point. If you haven’t read these books, they are both required business reading for 2015 because it teaches a framework of thinking.

Take the Career Challenge

Are you willing to try one of the career advancement steps above? If you are willing to commit to it and tell us about it, I’d love to have a 15-minute interview with you.   I’m looking for 10 or more readers to take the challenge and share their career tips, journey and advice. Contact me today at David@cowengroup or 212-661-0025.

I look forward to getting the conversation started!


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