How to take control of your career and get ahead

Tue, Sep 13 2016

ManpowerGroup recently released research revealing that 59 per cent of young Australian workers are actively looking for their next job opportunity, earning themselves the title of the ‘continuous candidate’. In fact, this group of employees are four times as likely to think advancement corresponds with changing jobs, and doing so, often.

In the face of a talent shortage in the PR industry, this research got me thinking. Is the onus on the employer or the employee to ensure career development and progression? To me the answer is – both. Yes, the employer has a responsibility to ensure its staff are challenged, learning and progressing. But it’s also up to the employee to recognise the role they play in their own career development.

To aide retention in our agency, we’ve focused on making sure our staff are working with us towards a common business goal, and we make sure they are rewarded accordingly. But more importantly, we want them to feel empowered to not only shape and influence the direction of the agency, but also their own career.

Actively looking for ways to develop skills is an important element of career progression, something I have learnt first-hand as I’ve build my career from Assistant Account Executive, to agency General Manager, and business owner.

Via istock

Here’s some of my top tips for career progression:

1. Know what you want to achieve and think ahead

Clearly identify your own goals, whether you’re an account coordinator, a manager or director. It’s always a good idea to look one or two steps ahead in your career to make decisions on specific career aspirations. Sometimes it’s the less obvious career move that can fast-track your career.

2. Don’t accept feedback that doesn’t help you grow

Tactical and specific feedback is a crucial part of development for any emerging or established communication professional. Otherwise how else can you accelerate your career, add value to your employer and achieve your own goals? From my own experience, its unhelpful in a performance review to hear “you’re doing great, keep doing what you’re doing.” The difference between a good manager and an excellent one is someone who provides specific feedback that helps you develop, and who connects you with the people and opportunities that bring that to life.

On the flipside, as hard as it may be to receive “constructive feedback” look at it in a positive way to help you “kill it” in your job role.  Being 110% successful in your own job means you will get that promotion, no problem.

4. Put your hand up

That may be putting your hand up for new projects, being proactive suggesting “value-add ideas” for clients, or looking for opportunities to make your boss’s life easier.

Remember the saying, ‘the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary’. Getting ahead is ultimately about going above and beyond and that means hard work!

5. Know when to stick or twist and be honest about what you want

Understand that career progression isn’t always about moving on. Don’t just jump ship for a role that is essentially the same but offering you a pay rise, look for an opportunity that’s going to help you grow or develop new skills. That might be where you already are.

Don’t be afraid to admit you’re ambitious and make sure your direct manager knows where you want to be long-term. If you’re great at your job, the chances are your current employer will want to keep you and will help you create the role you want where you are.

5. Negotiate your value to get what you want  

An interesting point that many established PR professionals might relate to is when the power shifts. Suddenly it’s not just you that’s out there to impress, but you find the employer looking to win you over. Then it becomes important to make sure you do your due diligence by researching any prospective employer to make sure your values are aligned, and go armed to negotiate or create the role that you want.


About the author: Gemma Hudson is National General Manager & equity partner of independent communication agency WE Buchan, which is part of international agency, WE Communications.


Take control of your career by attending the PRIA National Conference, Communication Innovation in Sydney - 14-15 November 2016

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