Career / Climbing The Ladder

A Career Expert On 5 Questions To Ask If You Want A Promotion

By Wednesday, May 12, 2021

We’re just T-minus 3 days way from our big TFD Career Day event and we couldn’t be more excited! In celebration of the upcoming 8-hour workshop and career summit, we’re spotlighting a few of our amazing panelists and guest speakers. Last week, we spoke to CEO of WorkWeekLunch and food prep-expert, Talia, on the importantance of intuitive eating.

This week, we’re highlighting career coach and leadership expert, Kimberly Cummings. Kimberly is also the author of Next Move, Best Move, a podcast host  and the founder of Manifest Yourself.

We recently sat with Kimerbly to discuss the importance of “role mastery” aka creating a tangible plan to grow in your role, right from where you stand. Check out a few of her amazing tips below!

On Being A Veteran ‘Career Coach’ After Having Worked 98% of Career Spaces

I always joke and I tell people that I’m not a ‘Career Coach’ because I’m navigating one career path. I’m a career coach because that was literally my career. My career has been consistently helping other people get connected to the jobs and opportunities that they want and finish themselves as leaders. 

So I served in a university career services office for eight or nine years, almost 10 years and I worked with every single profession, honestly, except for lawyers and doctors. And most university career services, work with current students, you work with graduate students and you also work with alumni. So I’ve worked with everyone age 18 to about 60-something on a long list of different careers. 

On The Value Of Growing Within A Company —  Right From Where You Are

I then pivoted my career to work in a talent acquisition among the company side. So I understand both sides of the house and that’s how I built my company — teaching strategy that I’ve worked in all different companies. What makes me a little bit different on that note is, so many people focus on, you know, the job search, um, resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn. But for me, I really liked to position folks as leaders within a company. 

I think it’s very different to get a job because you’d like a job, then really positioning yourself as a leader who has an expertise that sets you up for future opportunities. So that’s really my niche. Whether I’m working with individuals or groups through my company, ‘Manifests Yourself’ in our own in-house programming, or I frequently go into organizations and help develop their leaders in the organization for potential upward movement or what I like to say, ‘It’s building in your internal pipeline of talent.’ So when a role comes up, they don’t need to search externally. They can post the job internally and they have developed talent there that is qualified to move forward.

On The Significance Of ‘Role Mastery’ And Creating A Tangible 5-to-10 Year Plan

I think the number one thing I do is help my clients build out a ‘career development strategy.’ And that’s what my book leads to. I’m teaching you how to evaluate the state of your career — what are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? But more importantly, what are your gaps? What are the gaps that you have between where you currently are to the next logical step that you need to take? 

So many people think about, you know, I’m in position ‘A’ and in 5 to 10 years, I need to be in position and ‘D.’ If you’re an analyst and we’re not going to be a VP (Vice President) tomorrow. So what are the next logical milestones that we need to hit between A and D in the next 5 to 10 years? What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? Where am I actually on the road to role mastery? 

I don’t care as much about if you put two years in and it’s time to leave. I care about Role Mastery — are you in the right role And have you mastered your role? Are you actually ready for what that next step? And what would the next step be in order to position you as a leader within your company? 

Sometimes people think that you know, it’s like one, two, three, four, like the numbers and steps go that way. But as you know, in career development or with your finances, sometimes you have to take a 1.5 step. You make a lateral role or you need a stretch project. 

My thing is really making sure that needs to figure out what are the gaps that you need to close in your career in order to get to that 5 to 10-year strategy. So it’s a lot about creating those milestones and creating very tangible plans. So you have an actual career strategy that is for you and not necessarily the career strategy or what companies call  ‘career pathways’ or ‘Career Path’ that work for the company, but may not actually work for you.

On The Importance Of Having ‘A Thing’ To Avoid Being A ‘Jack Of All Trades, Master Of None’

So my first step in role mastery is getting into a job that’s a career, not just a job. Because if you’re in a job, I working at work, like we don’t need to enough to really talk about mastering that because you’re there literally for your paycheck. 

Once you’re actually in a career that you’re looking to build upon, it’s important for you to essentially get what you need to get out of that role. Many people just do their work and they think, ‘Well because I did my work, I’m good to go. I don’t understand why I didn’t get promoted.’ But —

  • Are you performing at the level that is considered mastery? 
  • Are you still needing help in day-to-day tasks? 
  • Have you made relationships — have you built mentors and sponsors in that role?
  • Do you understand how the company works? 
  • Do you understand how your role works within the company to help achieve its goals?

But in order to position yourself for a promotion, what I teach my clients is, it’s not just your role. It’s understanding where your role fits in the company. It’s understanding the impact that you have, and it’s being able to innovate. Once you’re able to innovate, that’s when we’ll master it, it really is really as happening. Because you’d want to make sure that you are acquiring skills and experiences to help you bridge a gap, to get to that like 5 to 10-year vision. And you can’t do that without mastering things. 

When we all hear the quote about, you know, “Jack of All Trades, Master of None”, when you’re looking to build mentors and sponsors, you’ve got to be known for something. Unless you’re a project manager where an executive assistant or a chief of staff, those people that guess if that’s your career path a hundred percent, you need to be a Jack of all trades. But for everybody else, we need to have a thing. What have you mastered that people can talk about that they understand and it’s tangible to help you move up the proverbial ladder or cross the ladder depending upon whatever your next move is.

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Image via Unsplash

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