Here are 10 experience-based tips to help speed your career ascent:
1. Serve on hiring panels.
A great way to learn how to impress hiring managers is to serve as a hiring manager yourself. You might be able to volunteer to help your supervisor screen applications and interview applicants.
2. Learn about your organization’s culture.
The next time you start a new job and establish a simpatico relationship with a colleague, ask him about your office’s culture and solicit his advice about succeeding.
3. Follow the decision-makers.
The front offices of federal agencies are usually disproportionately loaded with large budgets, executives who have the power to promote and high-graded positions that may generate job openings when they are vacated. Therefore, it’s usually easier to advance in these power vortexes than in backwater offices.
4. Stay current in your field.
Every field continually evolves. You will fall behind if you just tread water without learning about the latest methods and software in your field.
5. Be a knowledge sponge.
Seize informal and formal opportunities to learn about management issues such as budgeting, human resources, IT, communications and contracting. Your resulting knowledge will increase your marketability.
6. Gain management experience.
Look for opportunities to supervise staffers, serve in “acting” positions, lead work groups and deliver presentations. You will develop skills that will help you impress decision-makers.
7. Emulate the best.
Analyze the winning ways of admirable leaders and work to acquire similar skills.
8. Use creativity to gain desired experience.
If your job doesn’t offer careerboosting experience, consider volunteering to lead a project on your job that would address an important but unrecognized need in your office and that would give you desired experience.
Alternatively, could you volunteer to take on ancillary duties that would support a short-staffed manager other than your boss?
9. Decide whether to aim for the Senior Executive Service.
Entry into the SES requires specific, extensive experience that can only be gained by targeted, long-term efforts. So consider whether to set your sights on the SES as early in your career as possible so that you can aim your efforts accordingly.
10. Cultivate high-level references.
Your references for SES jobs should be able to vouch for your leadership and management skills. And all the better if your references are SESers themselves. As you advance, cultivate high-level contacts.