Wole Osunmakinde,                 

Polymath Training Facilitator, Philomath Author, Life Coach

Career Advancement, Career Growth, Career Development, or Career Progression – whatever you call it – it is about making a continuous upward movement in a chosen career path or field. A resolve to an ever growing career prospects and progress is a very good one especially if you have many years ahead of you to make it come true. What knocks me off is seeing so many young energetic people all over with such aspiration but not taking the expected or the required steps towards achieving that.

Significant career advancement is triggered and sustained by well informed and deliberate efforts. You have to learn how to shift the gear and turn the wheels of your career to give speed and direction to it. Drawing inferences from a trio of experience, exposure and expertise, I say with much belief that we all can nurture and mature our careers into whatever we dream of them. 

Very often, in my one on one career coaching and in my seminars, what I hear from job holders are series of complains about the boss, the colleagues, the customers, the pay structure, the office politics, the company itself, the industry, the economy – everything! And I am startled! The question is: What are you doing to upturn, upscale and uplift your career? You need to learn how to do that. And that ‘how to’ is what I want to share with you. Many have humbly embraced these ‘how to’ and they are flying in their career. Yes, you too can.


Critical Factors

I want share with you seven things that will make you to move, run and fly your career. I call them ‘Critical Factors’. They not formula but they are simple but effective submissions drawn from experience, exposure and expertise. You sure can handle them.

  • Work for Values and not only for rewards

Your job is not only for you to earn but to learn. It is not just an end to have means. No! This is where many get it wrong. Rather, work for values. The values you simultaneously add to and pick up from your job are stronger and more important than the pay cheques. In fact these values ultimately influence the pay cheques world over. There are seven values you can gain mastery on while holding a job:

  • Skills – Jobs give the opportunity to discover, develop and deploy your skills. Jobs took my skills from inertia to momentum, from elementary to mastery. Jobs will define and refine your skills.
  • Synergy – Working with people turns our individual energy into synergy. Jobs provide opportunities for bonding and teamwork. And in these we all do better. Synergy is a value that can only be experienced while working with others.
  • Systems – Jobs show us how things run and how thing fly.
  • Service – Jobs instil in you the culture of service. It teaches out to deal with customers and clients (especially, your colleagues who are the internal customers)
  • Structure – Jobs expose you to how processes, procedures and protocols are professionally and technically crystallized.
  • Solving – You learn on the job how to resolve issues, challenges, conflicts, crises and more. The ingenuity in you is invoked.
  • Strategy – Jobs show you how businesses are planned, positioned and piloted. You can also learn how to strategically reposition your career.

All these can only be optimized if you choose to work for values and not only rewards. This explains the nobility of sometimes opting for a lower pay job that brings much value rather than having a bigger pay job that has less value content. I bet you, when you gain mastery in these seven values; big pays will find you because better values naturally attract better pay.  Employers all over are in search for one thing – Values.

  • Master your Work Environment

Essentially, there are three prevailing fundamentals in a work environment:

  • Place
  • People
  • Protocols

The Place here stands for the industry type. You have to understand the dynamics and the dominant peculiarities of career navigation in your industry. For instance, I worked with May & Baker Plc and Trustfund Pensions Plc. They are both highly reputable and quoted pan Nigerian companies but the career advancement matrixes in these two are entirely different. This is largely incumbent on the obvious fact that they are different industries. One is pharmaceutical and manufacturing healthcare products while the other is financial and providing Pension services. Again, the leadership and management systems and approach are quite different. These impart directly on careers, career pathways and of course career progression.

Again, because of the peculiarities of various industries, people in them are different. And that also touches on career matrixes. It is true that you, to a very significant extent, have responsibility over your career advancement but it is equally true that the people you work with – boss, peers, subordinates and clients – have some measure of influence on your career progression. They are all stakeholder in your career. You just have to appreciate the peculiarities of the people around you and develop the needed people skills that will both match and manage them effectively. Your career is at stake with people. You must just get it right with people. That is why in my Career Seminars/Trainings, I take it on me to do a whole module on People Skills and People Management.

Organisational protocols are very real. Organizations have unique cultures that define their business protocols, ideals and standards. Understand yours. The policies and protocols of PZ are different from those of MTN; those of First Bank are not same as the ones of IBTC Bank, though they are both into banking. And these include the nitty-gritty of career advancement in each of them. Do not assume anything. I have seen enough people committed ‘career suicide’ all because they assumed stuffs, only to find out that the stuffs assumed were actually aliens to the fundamentals of their recent employment. And too late! Keep abreast the modes, moods, and modalities of your work environment.

  • Acquire Professional Leverages  

It actually took me a ‘naughty’ while before I finally subscribe fully to the glaring realities of professional leverages in career advancement. How would you explain an instance of a holder of First Class B.Sc. Accounting earning less than a Chartered Accountant B.Sc. Mathematics Second Class Lower in an Audit Firm? Obvious! Isn’t it? The ACCA or ICAN or FCA is the professional leverage. It is fair play. Or how would you explain the OND holder but ORACLE & JAVA certified earning almost double of that of B.Sc. Computer Science in the same ICT Firm? Same reason – professional leverage. I wasted time reacting to this obvious dynamics before I learnt to respond to it by accepting the reality and doing the needful. Professional certifications bring elevation and believe me, they can influence your career advancement more than you can imagine. Your professional certifications tell us your sophistications.

This professional leverage reality is also true of professional memberships. For example, I am an L&D professional; I am an active member of Nigeria Seminars and Trainings, a member of Learning & Development Network International (LDNI) Nigeria, I am a member of HR Professional Leverage Nigeria, etc. These amazing professional groups feed me with classified information, opportunities, business intelligence and more importantly, networking. Trust me; your network is your net worth. Apart from these, the fact is that many of us would rather entrust our professional members with key strategic career openings within our influence. Very true! Face it! The message here is simple: Go and get enough professional leverage and watch your career soaring like an eagle. 

  • Loyalty

Each time I facilitate on Career Development in my Seminars or for others, I take my time to talk on Loyalty and Disloyalty. It is true that our qualifications – academic and/or professional – get us the jobs mostly but it our loyalty that will keep the jobs. The drivers of loyalty such as commitment, honesty, consistence, submission, responsibility, maturity, and so on, are also drivers of career advancement. I have seen over and over in my own humble course and in the scheme of things here and there that what a day of proven loyalty can deliver to your career, five years of competence may not. The question of loyalty/disloyalty is one of the strongest questions in the face of career advancement world over. Why do you think we sometimes ask for certain inputs from your previous employers before we finally take you in? Part of it is to ascertain your loyalty profile, and only your current or previous bosses can tell us as much as we want to know about you in that regard.

Exercise: Rate your loyalty/100% on the job you are holding now. Be honest with yourself. Make adjustment.

  • Personal Development

Ageing is not the same as developing; growth is not maturity. The irony of a twenty year old woman and thirty year old girl is real. Your personal development has a direct correlation with your career development. Personal development is the trigger point of personal transformation and career transformation (and even national transformation).  Here, I want you to look at the following simple but amazingly effective things to do to initiate personal development:

  • Attend trainings, seminars, conferences and summits. According to a research carried out on 2500 organisations by American Society for Training and Development (ASTD):

Staff Training and Development increase profit per employee by 218% 

Internal Conflicts and Crisis within the organizations dropped by 35% 

Staff Training and Development increase overall organisational profit by 24% 

Shareholders return is increased by 6% 

Organisations without Staff Training lose capacity by 10%-30% annually 

Organisations without Staff Training lose 41% of Staff within 3 years 

25% of organizations fail because of lack of properly trained workforce   

You may say these reflect more on the employer. Yes, but the trainings you attend add to you first before it reflects on the job. Besides, the trainings go with you when you move on. 

  • Read books. In every career or field, there are ‘Dons’. They are the ‘Masters’, the ‘Legends’, the ‘Principalities’. They have seen it all. They have navigated the paths and have conquered it all. Guess what?  They have put it all in-between the covers of their written books – secrets of the streets, highlights of the highways, excerpts of the express, the scenes and the seen on the seas. It has taken them decades to achieve their masteries but you can spend lesser time and struggle to achieve yours by learning from them and be better positioned in your career and in life generally. You show me the books you are reading now; I will tell you where your career will be in five years. And if you are reading nothing, I can also tell you where you will be in five years.
  • Read reports, reviews, releases, blogs and news in your career field. Nothing limits career progression like ignorance.  Something somewhere is being discovered or dispensed on daily basis that may have some measure of impact you or your career. Find out and advance with it.

  • Choose a Purpose Based Career Pathway

Choosing a purposeful career pathway is making immediate and future plans thoroughly mapped out to convert your potentials (gifts, talents, abilities, skills, instincts) and passion (convictions, clear cut desires, dreams, intuitions, persuasions) from the raw states into the refined states for the benefits of defined ends (purpose) by the means of time  and effectiveness (career). There is always a natural synchronicity between our potentials, our passion and our purpose. And these should be pointers to choices and dispositions when it comes to your career.

As one tolling the path of transformation and personal significance, your aspirations would be guided by a passion to create a difference through the deployment of your unique attributes. And in doing that, sometime and somehow, money will come looking for you. There is a simple program called ‘SHAPE Test’.  You can take to ascertain your core area out of several natural intelligence spheres. All that is required from you is an inventory of your potentials, passion and your past experiences. And you will arrive at one or two of these cores.

When you discover your natural areas of intelligence and begin to advance your career along and around them, it is like a fish inside water. Your genius is displayed with ease. You will begin to advance your career from your ‘power point’. Your career becomes your real world; work turns out to almost be like leisure. You enjoy what you do, you best will come out and the struggles become minimal. Knowing these and a few other things, I purposefully settled for a career in Learning & Development. Now I stand a whole day delivering all kinds of training modules and enjoying every ounce of it. I am a Coach naturally, that is me and I so much enjoy being me and being paid for just being me. Put purpose in your career advancement or put your career advancement on the path of purpose, either way, you are it.

  • Mentorship

Career Mentors give you some momentum and motion you may not achieve on your own. Career Mentor/Coach turns career players into key-players; turn your career pieces into masterpiece; and your potentials to credentials; only if you care to submit yourself to one enough.  Real mentorship juggles you through your struggles.  Even as a Career Coach, I have mentors. These human dynamos keep me on my toes, hot and fresh. Mentors will teach you how to expand your career horizon and yet still keep your focus narrow. Find yourself one and you will thank me for it.

I wish you the very best of luck in your career

Oluwole Osunmakinde       wolemakinde@yahoo.co.uk