Growing your career and preparing for your promotion

Published by mpume on

In this blog, I had a very informative chat with Mabatho Takalo who is in the recruitment industry. Mabatho was born and bred in Limpopo. She works for Michael Page Africa, a multinational Recruitment Agency. She joined Michael Page as an intern, and the agency recruits across disciplines, for example, finance, IT, Accounting etc , they recruit from middle management to executive level. Mabatho has since moved up the corporate ladder – from a position of a Consultant where she would go out and find talent and business, she moved to Senior Consultant and recently got promoted to a manager position. She heads up two divisions currently- the finance recruitment desk where her focus is on finding talent within the executive suite, as well as the temp and contract division, where the conditions are not permanent. Today, Mabatho is here to share tools on we can employ to grow in our career and prepare for a promotion.

What do you need to demonstrate in order to be recognized as worth for a promotion?

You need to understand what that  next stage you are looking to get into is going to require and what it really entails, those two factors are very important when you are looking to prepare for a promotion. It’s futile to say you want a promotion without full details. If you want to be promoted from just a consultant, understand what the next step will require of you and try your level best to acquire a particular skill that speaks to the next level. Sit down with your boss and find out what the next step really needs, asses the skills , experience and expertise and see if you will be able to deliver. Look at those areas you feel you are lacking and work on them.

Other aspects you need to look at would be your personality, are you reliable, are you confident, do you believe in yourself to be good enough for the next step? Those questions are important to ask and answer them truthfully. Even those around you, your manager for example, you need to demonstrate what you are capable of, let your work speak for you so that your manager has no choice but to recognise your potential. Show them facts, they cannot deny so that when you have that conversation, they know why you deserve to be promoted.

Does growing your career need to happen within an organsations?

It can go both ways. If your organization has potential for career growth opportunities, you can stay there and grow your career, but potentially you can also look outside your organization. The advantage about looking to grow your career outside your organization is that you get to learn and absorb new skills, experience and just learning new ways of doing things. It also comes down to what your personal aspirations are as an individual. There are people who are in the same company for over fifteen years, having started as  an intern but if you look at the skills they have acquired over the years and obviously the expertise as a result, is quite big. If the company you are working for is innovative, it can be advantageous, but more so if you look outside because each organization has its own way of doing things, not only do you acquire new skills, you absorb new ways of doing things. You need to assess which of the two scenarios best serve your interests.

Is there a timeline to promotion?

There is no timeline, but your ambition will determine how fast you grow.  You cannot just do the bare minimum, you have to go the extra mile and put in the work. But in certain fields, they require a certain skill set which sometimes takes a little longer, but again it also comes back to you as an individual. Your attitude and your mental space is also a key factor.  The biggest hindrance to our growth is comparing yourself to other people, instead of focusing on what you want, you pay attention to the theatrics around you, learn to keep in your lane.

The pandemic, are people still growing seeing that we are all having to manage around this?

The extent that Covid-19 will impact people also depends on each one of us as individuals. Granted, because of this pandemic, some companies were hit so badly such that they had to retrench their employees, but some companies regardless of what is going on around, they still value their employees and cannot halt people’s careers because of Covid. Organisations are still promoting their employees and still paying bonuses. Some people have worked even harder to prove themselves as capable of a promotions. Salaries are being increased. In organisations that were able to survive the pandemic, they have continued to reward their employees accordingly.  Covid has challenged us to work differently and asks questions like” how do I show up as an employee to demonstrate my readiness”

What are the softer skills we need

  • Self-evaluation – You need to relook and see how you can work. Are you agile, can you think off of your feet, are you flexible in your approach?
  • Independence – It’s also important to be independent now more than ever, looking at the fact that we work from home. Are you productive on your own without you having to lean on your colleagues and team members. How are your problem-solving skills? We are in that time where you are supposed to demonstrate your problem-solving skills, take the load off your manage and again dhow that you can be counted on
  • Multitasking – The ability to juggle multiple projects , to show yourself and other people that you can do your job and do it very well.
  • Initiator-  Be initiative. Are you able to go the extra mile and do things outside your job description.
  • Communication is important – often communication is taken lightly but it actually plays a critical role in how things get done. You need to have the ability to engage with different people across states, departments and teams and individuals.

How can one articulate their skills confidently?

The only way to know what you are good at is to constantly being aware of what you are doing and learning. You need to intentionally review what you are bringing to the table and the abilities you have acquired. There are different kinds of skills, called transferable skills for example  not necessarily needed for a particular job such as moving from Microsoft to micro-page, team player skills, communication. Then there are those technical skills that you need and are not negotiable. How you can help yourself articulate:

  • Break down and categorise your skills according to your career path and the position you are looking to apply for.
  • Have a conversation about what skills you bring to the table when you start the promotion conversation.
  • Be honest with yourself, understand very well what you are capable of.
  • Study the job spec very carefully and tick it against what you have and then work on the shortfalls/gaps.

What are the best practices that one can adopt in order to secure a promotion?

If you can long term project , it helps to pinpoint what you have done, eg you can show how you were able to manage the project, how you were able to communicate, use your persuasion skills.

In a case where you have no projects given to you,  work harder, make yourself visible by going outside the expected, work closely with someone above you and learn what they are doing. Get supervision even if its from someone you don’t report to directly but has a skill you would like to learn, you benefit more. You are making yourself visible while acquiring knowledge you need.

What happens if you have a manager who is not supportive of your ambitions?  Speak to the manager and lay your cards on the table and have an adult conversation. Take your emotions out of it and be objective. If it fails, you can escalate that, but be very careful how you do it. Approach the superiors in a professional way, showcase what you have done and seek their advice.

Finally…Believe in yourself, demonstrate that you can add value. It starts with you, otherwise don’t expect anyone else to believe in you. You need to know that you are deserving of the title you want to venture into, then it will be easy to bring those aspirations to fruition.


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