We often think of career progression as moving up the corporate ladder by being promoted and taking on a new role, either within the same company or by taking a higher position at another business.
But, if circumstances find us staying in the same role for a long period, is it possible to feel that same sense of progression without ever going for a job interview?
How a role evolves
Career Wisdom Founder and Career Practitioner Lois Keay-Smith said it was common for a role to change as things evolved over time, or rapidly in the case of a global pandemic.
“Consider the role of an information technology support person who suddenly had to support many people working from home, or trainers and facilitators who suddenly needed to change their approach, activities and curriculum to suit the new virtual delivery mode,” she said.
“There can also be the scope creep that occurs naturally over time as projects grow and demands increase.
“Roles can also change as other staff leave and you take on extra duties or a broader scope of work, or you may take on other roles and responsibilities over time.”
Ms Keay-Smith said organisations were much flatter than in previous years.
“Your sense of progress may be measured in terms of the impact you are making not only in the role, but in the company more widely,” she said.
“In addition, contributing to your profession - be that a professional association, your alumni or other groups – can enhance your enjoyment and understanding of what you do each day.
“Engaging in continuous improvement of yourself and your organisation can mean that there are always things to work on even if your current role has become rather familiar.
“Looking at the impact of your role through the lens of your different stakeholders – colleagues, clients, customers, suppliers and environment – can help you to engage in some job crafting to further enhance the impact that your role has."
“Your company may be open to a discussion on job crafting and personalisation of your role – particularly in a tight labour market."
“Seek to have a conversation with your manager about how your role could be adjusted to be more aligned with your values, strengths and the skills you enjoy using, whilst making a business case for the benefits that would bring to the organisation.”
Keeping it interesting
Ms Keay-Smith said there were choices employees could make if they felt their role was stagnating.
“Can you make it more interesting by bringing in new technology or innovations, perhaps instigating some efficiency processes or personal productivity?” she said.
“Can you dive deeper into a certain aspect of your role that you find interesting and increase your expertise?
“Is there some further professional development you can undertake?
“How else can you add to the value of the business overall while you are in your current role?
“One example is getting involved in corporate volunteering, mentoring of junior staff or joining project teams to work on something new.
“Looking closely at your career drivers, understanding your strengths and knowing what is important to you can be insightful and create new opportunities such as job crafting a role that satisfies the needs of both you and your organisation.”
Ask for a helping hand
For employees who might feel a sense of powerlessness when their role changes, Ms Keay-Smith said it was important to communicate and ask for support if needed.
“You should not be dropped in the deep end without any discussion, preparation or training,” she said.
“If this has happened during a crisis time, you can ask for support – perhaps external training or mentoring – and access your employee assistance program if you are feeling stressed by the changes.”
Ms Keay-Smith said it could also be an opportunity to learn and to stretch out of your comfort zone.
“You may also discover more about what you do and do not enjoy doing,” she said.
“If some of the responsibilities change the nature and seniority of your work, this can lead to increased remuneration and a change of job title to better fit the evolved role.
“Or it can be a springboard to a new role within your company or another company.
“Ensure that you document your achievements on your resume and ideally have your work title correlate with what you were responsible for – it is easier to get a new role of senior manager when you were previously named a senior manager.”
According to Ms Keay-Smith, as work took up a lot of our time, it made sense to make the most of it.
“Wherever possible, try to do more of what lights you up and plays to your strengths while keeping you engaged,” she said.
“We cannot expect to love 100 per cent of our job all of the time, so it is also important to explore things that make us happy outside of work by having hobbies and interests that refresh us and fill up the tanks.”