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5 Ways to Take Your Career to the Next Level

The first sign that it is time to take your career up a notch is the feeling of satisfaction and complacency that comes with getting too comfortable in your present role. Without sufficient challenge, you run the risk of stagnating in your career, depressing your earning power and losing out on advanced opportunities that only come to those prepared, ready and willing to assume new challenges. Here are five ways to advance your career and position yourself for success in the most competitive city on the planet.

Take your career to the next level (Photo: iStockphoto)

Continue your education
And I don’t just mean go back to business school and get an MBA. Never stop learning — formally or otherwise. If you already have a master’s degree, consider additional classes or training. If you have the time and willingness to go back to school, getting up to speed on the latest research in management, trends and best practices can only benefit your already stellar resume. Otherwise, seek out executive training programs that could give you a quick boost — most of the best schools in the market offer outstanding options for seasoned workers.

Join an industry group
The majority of the most successful executives I have had the pleasure of placing in dream jobs are members of at least one industry group or association. Find out which groups the senior members of management are part of and how to become a member. Sometimes, these groups require official certification, passing an entrance exam or something similar, but most just require proof that you are actively part of a particular industry and you are good to go. These groups are great for networking.

Seek out a board membership opportunity
Becoming a member of a board of directors for either a non-profit or for-profit organization is a wonderful way to increase your profile as an executive and community leader. Many well-known and established organizations are constantly looking for senior-level advisors to oversee their activities; but your best bet as a young up-and-coming executive is to find a younger organization that would be open to having you join their board despite relative inexperience. A simple Google search for “board membership opportunities” should open up a few leads.

Move abroad
Living and working outside the U.S. may seem blasphemous to a tried and tested New Yorker (why live anywhere else, seriously, why?), but going abroad for a short-term or temporary assignment is usually a boon to your career. You expand your network and demonstrate to your employer that you are willing to take a risk. This will also provide you with a unique cultural experience that will demonstrate your ability to adapt and thrive in unchartered territory.

Join the front office
Every employee at some point in their career should know what it takes to be part of the front office, the sales team or client coverage group. After all, this is where actual business takes place and revenue is generated. You can certainly carve out a long and successful career in the back or middle office of a large investment bank or corporation, but the highest executives typically are groomed and selected from client-facing ranks in the front office. These individuals typically know the business inside and out and understand what clients demand. Can you make that claim? If not, you might want to consider a change to help develop additional skills that will allow you to rise to meet new challenges.

Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at debra@careersdonewrite.com.

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