There is enormous mobility in today’s job market. This applies to all generations, but it is especially true for millennials. According to a Gallup Poll, half of millennials don’t expect to be at their current company in one year.
There are many reasons for this mass shift. Some involve restructuring and layoffs by companies, a situation that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. But other reasons are individual: Many employees are leaving their companies in search of new job experiences and to achieve career goals.
While the grass may look greener on the other side of the job fence, you might also consider advancing your career by staying with your current employer. Your dream job just might be waiting for you in your present firm.
I recently spoke with Emily He, Oracle’s senior vice president of the human capital management cloud business group, who has great advice about how to build your career internally. She says now is the perfect time to look to your present company for your next career move. “The global pandemic has given companies new priorities,” He says. “This has opened the door to new opportunities for employees and lessened the need for job-hopping.”
Here are six things you can do to get that next big job in your company:
1. KEEP YOUR HEAD UP
The starting point for finding opportunities is to notice what’s going on around you. This will enable you to see how people perceive you and know where your strongest relationships are.
Early in my career I joined a large bank as manager of executive communications. I had a small staff and met with each separately shortly after I was hired. I still remember one woman whose advice to me was, “keep your head down.” I asked her what she meant. She explained: “Do your work, and don’t get involved with the things around you. That way any problems will just fly over your head.’”
Doing so meant that she had no advocates, no colleagues who would vouch for her, and no conversations that would raise her profile. Unsurprising she was never promoted. Keeping your head up is far better. Spend time talking with your colleagues, building relationships, and discovering your advocates. Show others that you are an asset.
2. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK
A second way to build your career internally is to network. In fact, when you’re looking for a job in-house, networking is very similar to networking externally.
“Networking is a huge factor in finding new opportunities within your company,” says He. “When looking inside an organization, it’s really about getting to know your colleagues, both within your teams but also across other departments. As you build connections with people you don’t traditionally work with day-to-day, more opportunities—and many that you never even thought of—will arise.”
Oracle Human Capital Management has a cloud-based tool called Connections that helps with networking. This platform “allows everyone in an organization’s network to connect, engage, and learn about each other,” says He. You can use that platform to find the positions and people that will lead to that next opportunity within the company.
3. VOLUNTEER FOR A PROJECT
When looking for a promotion, it’s helpful to find a project that will raise your profile and showcase your talents.
To get noticed as a go-getter, look for ways to assist with or lead an initiative that will bring you company-wide attention. “A worker who proactively seeks opportunities to expand his or her skillset (by volunteering) is likely to catch the eye of internal managers,” says He. So raise your hand to help out with an important project, or simply create a program that builds upon your strengths.
One vice president I know hosts a luncheon every year for clients and executives on International Women’s Day. She speaks to the women at the beginning of the event and invites an outside speaker. She has earned tremendous cachet within the firm for her initiative. If you’re in HR, you might introduce a new employee wellness program. If you’re a creative, you might offer art classes for the children of employees who are learning at home during the pandemic.
4. STAY ON TOP OF JOB OPENINGS
If you want to succeed in growing your career in your current company, pay attention to job openings via job boards and/or word-of-mouth. Don’t worry about not having all the requirements for a job. If you think it could be a fit, take a risk and apply.
5. PURSUE MENTORING MOMENTS
The fifth way to drive your career forward is to seek out what He calls mentoring “micro-moments.” This is a new take on mentoring. These “micro-moments,” says He, are “any opportunities where you can learn something from someone around you.” The learning, according to He, involves “any skill, tip, or insight that you’re interested in and someone can share. By intentionally seeking out these moments, you can accomplish, skill by skill, everything you need to take your career to the next level.”
If you see someone giving a great presentation, take note of what’s working, and have a chat with them about it. If someone in a meeting offers an opinion that you think is brilliant, get to know that person. If someone gets shut down at a meeting, figure out what happened and how you can avoid a similar outcome. Take this advice and you’ll find you have mentors all around you.
6. SEEK A SPONSOR
Finally, to get ahead in your company, find a sponsor.
If a mentor is someone who teaches you, a sponsor is someone who has your back, and who will speak up and bring your name forward if there is an internal job opportunity. Many companies are eager to retain and develop their talent and reward their best employees with promotions and raises.
The best way to find a sponsor is to identify a senior person who has clout and who respects you and the work you do. Perhaps it’s your boss, but it might be an equally senior person in another department who knows you and respects you. Or it might be a person in a more senior role. Once you identify the right person, ask if they’ll be a sponsor for you and keep their eyes open for a suitable promotion. It takes courage to reach out to someone like this, but it’s an extraordinarily effective way to get ahead.