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January, 2024

Advancing your career in 2024 – the roadmap to success

Andrew Thornton

Andrew Thornton
AMI Chair
January 2024

During the Christmas/New Year break, many of you will have reflected on your career and where it’s heading.

Now is the time to take action: to advance your career in 2024, you need a plan.

Career advancement comes in many forms: from climbing the corporate ladder to taking on additional responsibility in your current role. Regardless of what you are striving to achieve, it is rarely possible to attain this unless you have a plan to guide you along the way. Creating a career plan will help provide a foundation for advancing your career.

Late last year, I spoke at a conference for senior marketers/marketing leaders. In a working session I was facilitating, I asked those in attendance how many had a career plan in place. Surprisingly, only 2 of the 50 or so attendees raised their hand. Many said they were ‘embarrassed’ to admit it and others confessed to not understanding what a career plan was (as an aside, the following morning, one of the attendees bailed me up – said he had a sleepless night worrying about why he didn’t have a career plan in place. Can I help him?). A similar proportion of attendees admitted that they did not have plans in place for their team members.

The message here is that you need to take control of your career and prepare your own career plan.

To help you, here are the key elements of an effective career plan.

Firstly, you need to define what success looks like for you. Everyone has their own ideas of what success looks like. It’s a very personal thing. Think about what’s most important to you in your career now, and what you want your career to look like in the future. What you are striving for now, may look different than where you want to be in, say, five or ten years. Thinking across various time frames will help you define your version of success (and keep in mind that your personal situation is likely to change through the course of your plan).

Next, you need to establish goals and a timeline. Goals and a timeline go hand-in-hand. Without an indicative timeline, it is much harder to achieve your goals. Without goals, a timeline is simply a schedule. The goals you set give you something to aim for while the timeline keeps you accountable and on track. Goals need to be realistic. But should include those that will stretch you. What are your ‘milestone’ goals? What are major checkpoints in your career progression? To achieve your milestone goals, you will need to break them down in smaller, more manageable short-term goals. Consider the steps you’ll need to take to reach the next level in your career. What skills will you need to learn? Who, in your network, can help you develop? And, will you be able to reach your goal with your current employer?

Feedback is a way to get a gauge on your progress and to make sure you are on track to achieve your goals. If you only have formal (employer) reviews twice per year, schedule a check-in meeting with your manager in between reviews. But don’t limit attaining feedback just from your line manager – seek feedback from trusted peers as they can have a different perspective. If you are in a leadership role, ask your team members for feedback as well. The more diverse the feedback, the more you will learn from it.

Having a mentor can play a key role in helping you advance your career. Seek out a mentor that you believe has the experience and know-how to help you. Or, you may wish to participate in a facilitated mentoring program. For example, The AMI offers an Emerging Marketers Program. Whichever way you go, remember, mentoring is only as effective as the mentor-mentee relationship; compatibility is critical to success.

It’s often not what you know but who you know. A key way to advance your career, no matter what your goals are, is to have help and support from others. Make sure to tap into your network through every stage of your career plan. BUT don’t stop there. Be proactive in building your network. As your career evolves, so too will the mix of people within your network. Do your research and identify opportunities to expand your network – who are the types of people you need in your network that you can learn from and who can influence your career. Attend organised networking events – for example, the AMI offers various networking opportunities across all states in Australia.

Want to dip your toes in the water before diving into a new role? Volunteering for stretch assignments give you an authentic taste for a new role, or new career direction, enabling you to showcase your skill set to others. This is a great way to broaden your experience and build your skill base and show your manager – or other managers in your organisation – you are ready to take the next step.

And finally, being part of a professional organisation – such as the Australian Marketing Institute – is an invaluable way for accessing competency and skill development opportunities, along with networking and mentoring. It also provides access to the latest information and trends in your profession.

Some final tips. When you are thinking about your definition of success, talk to a trusted advisor or your mentor. When you are creating your goals, talk to your manager to see what the possibilities of advancement are. Once you have identified what you want to do next, seek out people that are currently in a similar role and ask them about it. The more information you have the clearer your career plan becomes. And remember, your career plan is not ‘set in stone’ and you can update it with new goals at any time. A career pathway is rarely a straight line from point A to point B; but you need to be proactive and actively manage your plan – a career plan is nothing on paper (or you computer screen) unless you actively work it! Good luck.