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Step-ups: A three-point guide to career positioning for success (and great legs).

Published on 6th October 2016

Step-ups are great! They work your glutes, tighten your core and give you a seriously good leg workout. 

Career step-ups on the other hand, require a little more brains than brawn. Sure you might still end up feeling out of breath, sweating and fatigued but that’s probably only if you don’t have the right strategies in place. Like the leg burning exercise version, there is a right and a wrong way to approach a career step up and if you get it right the benefits can be substantial.

So what’s a career step-up?

Well there’s no dictionary definition but I’d call it a job that takes you significantly outside of your current comfort zone, and forces you to stretch your skills and leverage your experiences into areas where you might not as yet have had to go. In short, it’s taking your 70% to 80% coverage of a job and asking you to learn or develop the skills to cover the remaining gap.

And of course whilst that all sounds great and reasonable, there is (in the author's opinion at least) but one significant employment market problem of late. We currently operate in a risk-averse society, with parameters of control and measure that suggest we should not stray too far from what we can and can’t do, what we know and what we don’t know.

In the workplace, that means employers are increasingly uncomfortable with offering positions to people who have not clearly shown they have successfully completed the job before. Why would they hire someone who has gaps in their skills? Surely it makes sense to always hire someone who’s been in the same role before, who knows what to do, why and how.

Well in essence, of course, that’s the logical path to choose, but logical pathways don’t always lead you to outstanding achievements or untapped potential.

Just because I have never completed a specific task does not mean I am incapable of completing  the task. Just as the evidence I have a skill does not guarantee that I can and will be able to replicate the same in a new environment or under different circumstances. Potential is a powerful commodity, as is an individual’s desire to grow and learn.

So assuming you do get the opportunity to present yourself for a step-up role, what can you do to assuage fears (yours and your employer’s) and prepare for the inevitable challenge the opportunity creates.

  1. Address the elephant in the room. There’s little point trying to bluff your way through the fact that you’re missing skills or experience required for the job you’re applying for. Instead, address the gaps in an honest and genuine manner that focuses on plans, and goals and objectives you wish to achieve, rather than challenges, issues, and risks that may exist.

  2. Offset your skill gaps. Let's face it, the very fact that you believe you have the ability to step up into a bigger, more challenging role, says something about your character and personal nature. Emphasise the benefits that these things will bring to the role, the employer, and the company so that they can get excited about your potential. 

  3. Paint a picture of success. Our ability to visualise success is a uniquely human trait and one which is incredibly powerful. Use the power of your self-belief to bring others with you, for them to see what you see and to feel comfortable that have something special to consider. If greatness is about repeatedly doing lots of little things very well then explain how you will achieve this in your pursuit of mastering the new skills for the role.

Too often today we are intent on living in a state of comfort, not testing ourselves or our limits or indeed only doing so when we know the parameters of safety and responsibility are so governed as to remove any real risk for ourselves or others. This kills creativity and innovation, it stifles potential and ability and it’s missing the great unknown, untapped opportunities that lie within those people who do chase bigger and better things.

Don’t settle, challenge yourself and when someone says, ‘but you haven’t got the skills or experience or qualifications’, look them squarely in the eye and ask them if they would like to hear why you know you can do the job!