At some point or another you may find yourself in in a position that isn’t quite living up to your expectations. Perhaps the job description promised responsibilities that haven’t transpired, your exciting remit is gradually becoming entangled in red tape, or you find yourself seeking in vain that supportive culture that was sold to you at interview.
These are times when it’s easy to brush off the CV and start considering pastures new. But from our experience, the professionals who stand out are those that have been promoted internally at their current firms and who stay the distance to work hard to change things, rather than the ones who move roles on a regular basis to ensure promotion.
It is also worth remembering that the onus is on senior BD and marketing leaders to ensure that their teams deliver commercial value. At a time when firms are facing huge fluctuations in market forces, there is a real need to have everyone in this critical team fulfilling their potential.
This, in turn, means there’s a great incentive to address your concerns and, if a role is not meeting expectations, or has fallen into a rut, change things for the better. But you will also need to step up to the plate to define your reservations and be ready to propose a good alternative. Most of all, you will need to be proactive.
Change from within: Steps you need to take
- Find out what the career structure is for your firm internally. What do you need to do to get to the next level? What, if anything, is stopping you from climbing to the next rung on the ladder?
- Use your appraisal to your advantage – not just a process that needs to be completed or a box that needs to be ticked. It really is a two-way process. If there is no clear career path where you are, perhaps suggest helping to devise one that could benefit you and the whole team.
- Be good at networking internally. If you haven’t already done so, make an effort to get to know people across the firm, not just in your area or discipline. Be aware of what’s happening within your firm and look at opportunities to work with others and share knowledge. If people don’t know who you are and what you do, it won’t help your cause!
- Be willing to take on extra responsibilities. If you see an interesting project you want to get involved in – offer to help.
- Don’t be afraid to specialise. Carving yourself out a niche in a particular area can be a strong driver for faster career progression at a time when specialists are in high demand.
- Look at internal secondments to see if you can add to your skills base. See if you can work for a different practice group/sector, or even a different discipline. If you want to get more bids or CRM experience, for example, offer to take on an interim post, like a maternity cover, if you see something advertised internally. Find a partner champion in your office who can help back your cause. Put a business case together. We have many examples of where these things can, and do, happen.
- If you are part of an international firm, see if you can work in London or a different region/country.
- If you see a trend within a particular sector that is a focus of your firm, try to build your industry knowledge. This will only add value, not only internally but externally as well.
- If you see a gap in the market or in your team for a particular project/initiative, discuss it with your manager – put a business case forward for it.
- Don’t be a jobsworth. Get a reputation for going the extra mile by taking on duties that don’t fit into your job spec.
And, finally, don’t be afraid to ask. Management may be facing issues that are beyond your control to fix. But at the same time, you can’t really blame the leadership for lack of career progression if you don’t tell them the direction you want to go and ask them to help.
Taking all the above into account, if your curent role has truly hit a dead end, and you have decided your only alternative is to look for a change in direction or advancement externally, remember that even this can be an opportunity to understand better what it is you really want from your career. Knowing where you want to go will put you at a distinct advantage as you head into the job market.
The market may be full of uncertainties for 2017, but there will be opportunities too for those in marketing and BD who can help cement and grow their firm’s position.
In Part III, we will explore how you can exploit changing times to find and secure the right job to drive your career forwards.