Workplace Dilemmas: How to advance my career

Each month our resident agony uncle answers your pressing concerns. This time: how to progress in the corporate jungle.

“Dear Tim,

I’m afraid this request for help isn’t anywhere near as exciting as the letters you usually receive. I’m not nurturing a secret crush on a colleague, and I haven’t had a peculiar dream about a workmate. It’s not even the case that I’m suffering from a motivational crisis.

Quite the contrary, in fact: if anything, my problem is a surfeit of motivation. I’m champing at the bit to get on in my career, and I’m after guidance about how best to succeed.

I’m in my late thirties, a married mother of two, and enjoy my professional life. I’m the HR manager of a regional office supplies company, with a turnover of around £40m and a staff of about 75 people. I directly manage a team of three, and have dotted lines of report to an apprentice and two trainees.

That’s quite a lot of stimulation from a people-management point of view. And, because good HR is essential to any business, I’m involved in a number of decisions that are made at board level. I attend exec meetings, and feel like I have a say, especially when it comes to resourcing.

But I’m hungry for more. I’d like to develop my career so I can take on a more senior role, probably in a larger organisation. While I enjoy the creativity and challenge of HR, I’d like to get into a more general management role. I know it sounds really big-headed, but one day I’d see myself as a managing director or chief executive officer.

So, how do I get there? Should I take time out for further study (I have a degree in English Literature and I’m a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development)? Do I move to a new role and broaden my experience? Or do I sit tight and hope lady luck comes my way?

- An ambitious professional”

Tim says:

First things first: you shouldn’t apologise for being ambitious. One of the reasons some people don’t get on in their career is because they feel the need to be too modest – a challenge that faces women in particular.

The truth of the matter is that ambition is nothing to be ashamed of. As I’m sure you say to colleagues, if you feel you have the skills to succeed, you should own them, be confident in yourself, and show those around you why you’re fit for high office.

Of course, some people are simply arrogant, and that never yields good results. So the first thing to do is canvass the opinion of trusted colleagues, to make sure they agree with your self-assessment.

Find people whose opinion you value and ask them in confidence if they see in you what you see in yourself. If they do, then you’re probably right to be hungry for a greater challenge – your current role may not satisfy you for much longer.

The next question is how to get from here to where you want to be. Further study can be a good idea. For example, an MBA can be a very good investment, equipping you with crucial management and business planning skills while yielding a significant uplift in earning power.

MBAs don’t come cheap, mind you. You may feel that the financial and time commitment is simply too high, even with the promise of greater rewards in the long term. If so, I’d recommend looking into other forms of management qualification, such as a Masters in management, or a postgraduate certificate/diploma. Many universities offer part-time or online-only routes through such programmes, meaning you can continue to earn even as you enhance your CV.

If a return to university doesn’t inspire you, another way of developing both your skills and your personal insight is to work with a career mentor. This is a professional person who will get to know you and understand your aspirations. They will offer honest guidance and support, meaning you can trust their judgment and use them as a sounding board. Often, mentors identify particular skills in people that they didn’t even know they had. They can help you shape your career, and develop the skills and qualifications necessary to live your dreams.

Whatever you choose to do, my best advice is to talk to someone. Even if you’re dead set on leaving your current job, your senior managers will have sound advice about progression routes. Remember, they’ve been in just your position, and will be interested in helping the next generation to thrive. And if you make your ambitions clear, they may even identify new opportunities in your current role to stimulate you and advance your skills.

When you’re ready to make the move to your next role, a recruitment consultant will be able to match your qualifications and talents against appropriate appointments, putting you forward for roles where you have a good chance of succeeding. This saves you wasting time on applications that aren’t right, and gives you a further support network as you take your next steps.

So, be encouraged to pursue your professional dreams. Believe in yourself, take counsel from those you trust, and invest in your development. The rewards are there for the taking.

© 2018 Just Recruitment Group Ltd.

If you liked this article you may like to read – Do I compete against my career mentor for promotion?
You may also like to read – Stepping up: how to find your ideal next job

Jobs currently available

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Management Accountant
Sector: Accountancy, Banking and Finance
Salary: £30,000 - £38,000
Location: Haverhill
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 906965
About the role

The Just Recruitment Group have a superb opportunity for an experienced Management Accountant to join our client on a fulltime, permanent basis working near to Haverhill.

Reporting directly to the CEO of this fast growing successful company. The business is currently growing at 20% per annum and is at a pivotal moment in its development. New premises have been purchased and new sales and accounting systems are due to be installed in the coming 6 months. This role will be part of the senior management team and involved in key decision making for the business going forward.

Responsibilities include:

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  • Managing the accounts assistant who has primary responsibility for the purchase ledger.
  • Managing UK and overseas payments, controlling deposits and advance payments.
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  • Ad-hoc tasks necessary for the for Senior Managers and Directors.
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The ideal candidate will possess the following skills:

  • Experience working in a fast moving busy office environment.
  • Ability to work to deadlines, quickly and accurately under pressure.
  • Ability to prioritise.
  • Discretion required due to nature of the role.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Confident in using Microsoft Excel.
  • Flexible and adaptable.
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Service Engineer
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £30,000 to £35,000 Per Annum
Location: National
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 906655
About the role

This position is based nationally and reports to the Field Service Manager.

Responsibilities

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  • Attending product breakdown calls, providing technical assistance to customers and supporting service refurbishment activities.
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Qualification 

  • Full clean driving licence
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Skills

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  • Braising
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Experience

  • Service and preventative maintenance on HVAC products at a national level

Personal attributes

  • Honest
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  • Flexible
  • Supportive Team player
  • Work effectively and safely alone.

Hours

Monday to Friday 08:30 – 17:00 with a 60-minute unpaid lunch break. However, will be expected to work such additional hours as are necessary for the proper performance of your duties.

Reward Package

  • Competitive Salary (based on experience/qualifications)
  • Bonus scheme (Profit related)
  • 25 days holiday per annum (up to 5 days used for Christmas shutdown) increasing with length of service, up to a maximum of 30 days per year
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  • Pension Scheme
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  • Life Assurance (2 x basic salary)
  • Private Medical Insurance (once qualified)
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Other benefits

  • Monthly flexi-Fridays (staff can leave at 2pm, having made the time up that week)
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New job
Mechanical Fitter
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: discussed on application
Location: Telford
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 907034
About the role

The Just Recruitment Group Ltd are currently recruiting for a MECHANICAL FITTER for their client based in Telford. 

Our client offers advanced automation solutions from complete turnkey solutions to specialised tooling. 

Required to support our manufacturing cell: 

Responsibilities: 

  • Mechanical fitting and assembly of finished products to on site manufactured customer orders prior to shipment 
  • Fitting electrical actuators and power driven accessories 
  • Testing assembled systems to identify defects 
  • Working to internal processes and standard operating procedures to maintain our quality standards 

Skills Required: 

  • Measuring components using electronic measuring equipment 
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  • Understanding of engineering assembly drawings 
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  • Manual handling 
  • Quality / Inspection 

Hours of Work: 

Monday – Thursday: 8.00 am – 5.00 pm
30-minutes for lunch. 
Friday: 8.00am – 2.30pm 
40-hours per week 

Benefits: 

In return, we offer a competitive salary, good benefits package, free on-site parking and a generous holiday allocation. 

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Compliance Associate
Sector: Accountancy, Banking and Finance
Salary: £25,000
Location: Ipswich
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 907028
About the role

Do you have compliance experience and are looking for a new challenge? 

Have you worked in financial services? 

Our client is a busy financial services organisation with a diverse client database, looking to take on a Compliance Associate to assist the Compliance manager with regulatory processes and procedures. 

We are looking for someone with experience in Compliance-related work and 1-2 years of experience in a financial services, or a similar role. We are also looking for someone who is highly motivated and results oriented. 

The role will be working within a busy office and involves the following duties: 

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  • Review and monitoring of client files to asses client ‘Suitability’. 
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New job
Lead Automation Engineer
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: discussed on application
Location: Telford
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 907027
About the role

Due to new exciting automation projects, an excellent opportunity has arisen within our Team for a:

LEAD AUTOMATION ENGINEER

Objective:

Reporting directly to the General Manager responsible for providing technical advice, guidance and overseeing the build and integration of automated machinery, This diverse role will require extensive knowledge of automated machinery, robotics and appreciation of machinery safety.

Scope of the Role:

  • Ideally, with excellent project management and leadership skills you will be overseeing the day-to-day activities for the build of automated machinery.
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  • To liaise with customers and undertake customer site visits will be required. (This may involve overseas travel within Europe).
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  • Specification of electrical and mechanical components, producing bills of materials and project schedules
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Skills / Education:

  • Educated to HNC/HND level in Engineering with electrical or control systems bias.
  • Experience in a similar role with the build and test of automated machinery.
  • Knowledge of CE Marking process and the Machinery Directive.
  • Customer focused with good communication skills both verbally and written.
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  • Flexible, team focused willing to show initiative.
  • Ability to provide training, motivate, manage a multi-disciplinary engineering team.
  • Strong problem-solving skills and diagnostic ability both reactive and proactive.

Hours of Work:

Monday – Thursday: 8.00 am – 5.00 pm

Friday: 8.00 am – 2.30 pm

Lunch Break: 30 minutes each day.

40-hour week.

 

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