In a candidate-driven job market, workers often look outside their current company for new opportunities. But this might not always be the best path forward. Here’s some advice to advance your career from a veteran executive recruiter.
April 20, 2017 – Ted Pryor, managing director with Greenwich Harbor Partners, recently took a phone call from a young professional seeking career advice. She works at a major private equity group for its chief of staff. She told the recruiter she works nights and most weekends and was having a difficult time meeting her career goals.
She seemingly had it all, thought Mr. Pryor. A great education, solid work history, and she had striking command of three languages, including speaking fluently in Chinese. What on earth could be holding someone like this back?
As the recruiter pushed for more information, he discovered this young woman was feeling trapped in a highly demanding job that lacked any clear career path forward. She was beginning to think about a job hunt and wanted Mr. Pryor’s advice. He ascertained that the private equity firm might support her in job hunting internally and he advised starting there.
“It’s always better to find an alternative job at your current company if you can,” said Mr. Pryor. He suggested the following five golden rules of career advancement to the young woman, but they apply to just about everybody in the midst of considering a job or career transition.
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Golden Rule No. 1: Get Close to Customers
If you are not selling or servicing customers, then you should be supporting people who are. If you are not selling or servicing in general, you should be marketing, measuring results, developing products or solving client problems. If you are not facing customers or supporting people who are facing customers, then you are overhead and risk being expendable. A year or two working at headquarters or in the office of the chief of staff, as in this case, is great experience and can give a bird’s-eye view of the organization. But don’t get locked in there, said Mr. Pryor. “You should transition to a customer-facing function as soon as you can,” he added.
“If there was only one golden rule of career advancement, this would be it,” he said. “Progressive companies have 80 percent of their resources focused on serving customers or supporting the front line. Legacy companies are often inward-focused with lots of time spent crafting memos to ‘go up the line,’” he said. Ambitious professionals should work to be in customer-oriented functions.
Golden Rule No. 2: Become an Expert
The modern world pays for expertise….