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The only way is up?

Kate Neser

‘How do I position myself so that I’m in line for a promotion, when the market finally starts opening up?’

There’s no doubt that getting a promotion in the current public sector market is going to be challenging for a while yet. But does this mean that your career just stagnates for the next year or so? What are your options? Right now, there might not seem to be any options at all.

But there are the slightest indications that the market is easing – restrictions are lifting, people are transferring or having the opportunity for performing higher duties. There is no doubt that at some point, opportunities will arise again – maybe not promotions at first, but slowly the market will start to re-balance, and opportunities to move positions, to work on taskforces, to act when people are on leave, and finally there will be positions advertised for permanent filling again. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen (eventually).

Recognising this, many people are still asking the question – “How do I position myself so that I’m in line for a promotion, when the market finally starts opening up?”

The same rules apply as ever, they might just need some more deliberate effort.

Keep up your professional development

Start with a skills and capability audit. Look at both your strengths and your weaknesses. What do you shine at, enjoy most, add value with? Make sure you capitalise on these. Sometimes the best way to get feedback on these is to ask others, as you may not be fully aware of your strengths if they come so naturally that you don’t feel like they are a skill.

Also check on your skills or capability gaps. Where do you want to or need to develop? What feedback did you get in your last performance review? What have you done to address any areas of development, and how successful has it been? Do something that takes you out of your comfort zone.

Look for opportunities to deploy your strengths or improve on your weaknesses – are there opportunities to volunteer for committees, or undertaking a task you wouldn’t normally be responsible for – maybe some planning work, or budgeting, or managing a team project?

Look for outside opportunities

In this environment, where you may be frustrated at the lack of opportunities for promotion, or even to move sections, it may be productive to look outside of the work environment. Your intention could focus on seeking opportunities to address the frustration, or more deliberately develop skills outside your comfort zone. I know for a fact that community or sporting organisations are always keen for volunteers to help out, and have enormous opportunities to develop skills in managing projects, teams, committees or finance. It may also be a good opportunity to meet others in areas that you may be interested in working in when the job market eases up.

The other really great option is to try out that study course that you’ve been thinking about for a while. Anything from a certificate course all the way up to that MBA you’ve been meaning to get around to. It will give you something else to think about as well as giving you that piece of paper that might make the difference on your CV for the next job opportunity.

Stay on the radar

In an environment where there are strict rules about advertising positions, sometimes opportunities arise just from catching up with people from different work areas – a way to find out that someone is going on maternity leave or other opportunities may open up.

So keep up your networks – start having one coffee catch up a week with a different colleague each week, someone who has perhaps moved to a new area or that you know from outside work, ask to attend meetings that you might not usually be included in, attend the regular ‘lunch & learn’ events or social committees get togethers. Look for opportunities to network that suit your style – don’t feel like you have to attend events that you won’t enjoy, or that don’t create opportunities to really connect with someone.

And finally, stay positive.

At these times, it can be hard when you might be so frustrated at being stuck in a job that you are not enjoying. But it is really important to maintain a positive reputation. So revisit your list of strengths, and make sure you are seen to be using them. Don’t buy in to the office gossip grapevine. Be part of looking for solutions and solving problems, and not one of the group that likes to whinge about the problems or blame others. When people are looking to employ someone, the people who are known for being negative are unlikely to be top of the list.

These times are tough, and I’m not trying to suggest that the future is all rosy, but eventually the cycle will come around and job vacancies will start to appear again. The more you can do now to position yourself when the market starts to open up, the better.

What is one thing you will do to update and improve your CV?

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Kate Neser

Kate Neser is an Executive Coach with the Centre for Public Management, coaching people to find the pathway to fulfil on their full potential in any area of work, whether it be developing their leadership potential, managing people or seeking the elusive work-life balance. As a former senior executive who managed the role working part-time with young kids, she is passionate about challenging some of the beliefs held in workplaces that get in the way of people living the life they dream about. More about the Author

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