Are you an electrical engineer who is hoping for a promotion? Do you believe you’ve earned it through loyalty to the same company? Well, it may be the case that you’ve put in the time, but often that’s not enough to get you where you want to be. Achieving a promotion is rarely a matter of chance or luck; you need to have a clear goal in mind. What is your ultimate career ambition, and what steps do you need to take in order to make it a reality? To take your electrical engineering career to the next level and make it more likely you’ll be recognized next time a promotion opportunity arises, follow the below 10 steps.
Take a close look at your current position
Before you can get a clear picture of where you want to be, you need to understand where you are now. Take some time to look closely at your current role to assess what you enjoy about it, what you dislike about it and what interests you most. Do you have responsibilities which you could develop for a more senior role? Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Doing so will help you to identify the future position you are interested in.
Identify the promotion you want
It’s not enough to just want ‘promotion.’ You need to have a specific position or at least a particular level in mind. When you have this, you can then start to research exactly what is involved in that role. You can find out if you are missing experience or skills which would make you a viable candidate. It’s likely that there will be some areas in which you are lacking, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Now you know where to focus your time and study in order to broaden your skillset. If you are confident that you are ready for the higher position, this research will identify which of your skills you should be highlighting in the application and interview questions.
Learn as much as you can
Often senior electrical engineers will have a higher degree in engineering or further training beyond their degree. The engineering industry is continuously evolving, and anyone who wishes to be a leader in the field needs to be on top of new technologies and theories. It’s now possible to study for an engineering degree online, which means you can study around your job. For example, you can achieve a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering via Michigan Tech’s online electrical engineering program.
Show initiative and go the extra mile
To convince your superiors that you could handle more responsibility, you need to show them that you can excel in your current position. Take every opportunity to take on extra tasks and responsibilities. If you can see a way to improve a process, speak up and take the initiative. Take an interest in the wider success of the company, including other departments. Volunteer your time and your knowledge to show both your managers and your colleagues that you are a team player. You don’t even need to wait for the company to present you with opportunities to shine. Find a project or process which is struggling, propose a solution to improve it, and you could even suggest yourself as someone who could manage it. If you can, act like a leader by facilitating meetings, resolving conflicts in your team, or managing social or charity fundraising events for the business.
Learn from a mentor
Find someone in your industry who has achieved the success which you wish to emulate. This could be someone in your organization but may also be someone from another company. Build a professional relationship with them so you can learn from them and their experiences. Tell them that you are interested in learning from them and that you have ambitions to progress and they may prove to be an invaluable source of support and advice.
Measure your successes
Remember that your efforts to impress may be overlooked if you can’t evidence how your actions and hard work has benefited the organization. Make sure you are recording your work in some way and can clearly show how it has led to success for the company.
Ask for feedback
To get an accurate and objective view of your performance, it’s often best to ask others for their feedback, whether it’s praise or constructive criticism. Your boss will be able to give the specific areas of your performance which need improvement so that you can take steps to address any potential issues.
Think about how you present yourself
Dressing appropriately for your job may seem like a small factor, but if you can’t take pride in your appearance at work, your manager may presume you would have the same attitude to your work. Try to make an effort and stand out from the crowd, and it will be clear that you are well suited to a higher position than you currently have.
Network as much as possible
Networking with other engineering professionals is a great way to establish connections, learn from others, and keep up to date with the latest industry news. You can network within your organization during working hours but also on social outings and training days. There are also engineering societies and organizations which you can join and attend meetings. Build positive connections, help others to achieve their goals, and take every opportunity to show others that you are skilled and knowledgeable. Make yourself indispensable to the company by becoming an authority on a topic. Soon enough, you’ll be able to establish a positive reputation amongst your peers, which will help you when a promotion is available.
Make your ambition clear
There is no harm in letting your manager know that you would be interested in a promotion in the future. Be open about your plans for the future (assuming they involve staying with the same company). When the time comes, your name may well be at the front of their mind.