Digital Agency How-To Guide: How To Pave Your Ideal Career Path In 5 Steps
Within every company, there comes a point in time when an employee evaluates their current role and starts envisioning where they see themself in the future. At Power Digital, a digital marketing agency with primarily millennial employees, there is a lot of growth potential within your position and the company gives employees the flexibility to take the driver’s seat and pave their ideal career path. Whether it’s growing within your current role, becoming an account manager, progressing to a senior strategist, or exploring new leadership opportunities, each employee’s career rests in his or her hands.
Identifying where to start or what steps you need to take in order to determine what your ideal role looks like can be overwhelming and intimidating. The possibilities are endless and what an ideal role may be for one person may not be for another. Each person has different strengths, interests, skills, and aspirations, and this journey is catered specifically to you and what you want your career to look like in the near future. To help guide you in your career journey, we’ve created five simple steps on how to pave your ideal career path.
Step #1: Identify Your Ideal Role
Regardless of your current title or job description, it’s important to think about the big picture and start envisioning what you’d like your role to look like in the near future. This requires critical thinking, self-reflection, and constructive feedback from your peers. Start by asking yourself the following questions: What do you enjoy most about work? What interests you? What motivates you to succeed? What are your biggest strengths? Where is there room for improvement? What feedback have your peers or clients given you? Once you’ve had time to reflect, you’ll have a better idea of where you’d like to be within a company and what you’d like your role to look like.
At Power Digital, there are 10 different departments: Web Development, SEO, Paid Media, PR and Influencer Marketing, Organic Social Media, Paid Social Media, Content, Email Marketing, Sales, and Creative Design. Within each department there are several different roles. This includes Account Coordinator, Project Manager, Account Manager, Senior Account Manager, Executive Sponsor, Strategist, Senior Strategist, Technical Director, Department Director, and the list goes on. However, employees are not limited to one department or role within the company.
Regardless of where you start within the company, there’s always opportunity to develop new skills, work your way up, and grow into a new role. For example, if you start in the Organic Social Media department and want to develop skills in Email Marketing, there’s nothing stopping you. If you’d prefer to be a Senior Strategist driving channel strategies rather than an Account Manager overseeing the performance of client accounts, that’s okay too. Your role is what you make it, and it’s up to you to identify what you want and take the initiative.
Pro – Tip: If you’re not sure where to start, focus on what you’re passionate about. If you’re not sure what you are passionate about, decide on what will make you happiest at the company. From there, you have somewhat of a destination to work with. Map out what needs to happen to get to that state.
Step #2: Map Out a Plan of Action
After you identify what you want your ideal role to look like, the second step is seeking support from a coworker and mapping out a plan of action together. Within this journey, it’s important to seek the help of a peer within your company to act as a mentor and hold you accountable, ensuring you are staying on track and following the appropriate steps to achieve your career goal. Whether it’s a coworker, a manager, a director, or even C-suite executive, make sure to use your resources and select one person that you think will support you and help you achieve your goal. Once you’ve selected a mentor, schedule a meeting with him or her to review your ideal role and map out a plan of action.
Within your plan, it’s crucial to clearly outline your goals and the actions you plan on taking to accomplish these goals. For example, if your goal is to learn a new service such as Email Marketing, the actions required to accomplish the goal is to meet with a member from the Email Marketing department to get an overview of the different deliverables within the service offering, schedule training meetings, execute an email strategy from A-Z, and get constructive feedback.
The more detailed you are with your plan of action, the better, to ensure you’re setting yourself up for success!
Pro – Tip: This will not all happen overnight. Decide on your desired end goal and then work out the steps to get there – or the steps to get closer to the steps to get there. It may take time, but every step counts. More importantly, beginning with steps that are realistic and digestible will set you up for success. Adversely, making steps too difficult or demanding could result in failure and withdrawal.
Step #3: Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Once you and your mentor have outlined a roadmap, it’s time to put the plan into action and step out of your comfort zone. Whether your career development goal is to become an expert in a new service offering or develop new management and leadership skills, it requires pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and working your way from the ground up.
Learning a New Service Offerings
Pushing yourself to try new things or learn new skill sets can be difficult and even frustrating. It’s important to not get discouraged by keeping in mind the goal you’re working toward and using your mentor as a support system. Regardless of the service, you should start with the following steps to ensure you are setting yourself up for success and absorbing as much information as possible:
- Meet with a channel-specific strategist to get an overview of what the service does, what deliverables fall within the service, what problem it solves for the client, and where it sees the most success.
- Hold several training meetings with the channel-specific strategist in your spare time, outside of work. To make the biggest impact within your career, it’s important to not try to squeeze in trainings during your normal office hours. The key here is having your mentor hold you and the strategist accountable by keeping you both on track with the schedule that was mapped out in step two.
- Start putting your trainings into action! Once you’ve learned the in’s and out’s of each deliverable, it’s time to try executing a test from A-Z by yourself without the help of the strategist. Give yourself time to work through any issues you face and reference the notes you took during your trainings. The importance here is to learn by doing.
- Once you’ve finished executing the deliverable, meet with the channel strategist to review and ask for constructive feedback. Feedback will help you identify any strategy pivots that need to be made, areas of improvement, and help you further develop your skill set for that specific channel.
Build Relationships with Your Peers & Asking for Constructive Feedback
Using your resources in the office is key. More often than not, it requires investing time into building personal relationships with your peers, aside from your everyday working relationship. For coworkers that you admire and look up to, but may not have a personal relationship with, it’s important to push yourself out of your comfort zone, reach out, and invest time into getting to know that person better. If you aren’t sure how to approach this, use the following steps to help guide you and the conversations with each coworker:
- In your plan of action, map out the people in your company that you admire most and think you could learn different skill sets from. Something to keep in mind is that skill sets can range from channel-expertise, strategy, management style, leadership qualities, and more. As a best practice, you should reach out to at least one person for each skill set.
- Once you know who you want to meet with, reach out to him or her and see if they want grab coffee or meet after work. This helps facilitate a more personal relationship outside of the office.
- Prior to the meeting, outline key questions that you want to ask that person specific to their skill sets and strengths or any topics of discussion you’d like to cover during the meeting. As a best practice, it’s always good to come prepared and let the person know what the meeting is about or what you’re trying to accomplish.
- During the meeting, it’s important to ask for constructive feedback about how that person sees you, what they think your strengths are, what they think your weaknesses are or areas of opportunity, and what path they envision for you moving forward.
- Take the constructive feedback and turn it into action items! Determine how you’re able to turn the feedback given into action items so that you can continue to improve and grow within your career.
Pro – Tip: Learn from people who have been there. For instance, if you see a coworker who has an incredibly immense workload, yet continues to look unfazed, ask them for tips on how they manage their stress. You may learn tips such as, “I am stressed, but I choose to grind it out rather than show it in the office,” or, “Prioritize the important over the urgent,” or even, “Front load your work week and plan with purpose – 80% of your results come from 20% of you work.”
Step #4: Embody Leadership
Regardless of your role, whether it be a direct management role or nothing close to such, you are in one way or another already a leader. If you do not believe so, the best way to be viewed as a leader within your company and by your peers is to begin acting like one. A few of the main traits that make a leader are the following:
- Understands how to manage a heavy workload and, with that, stress. As the One Minute Manager states, “We are not just our behavior. We are the person managing our behavior.” If you get upset, remember you are human, but also remember that you are able to manage that feeling. Do not let yourself down by letting an emotion get the best of you, ruin your day, or cause you to say or act outside of what is expected of a leader.
- Puts the team first. This trait involves a few things. For one, it includes making sure the team is working well. To do that, each team member needs to feel heard and supported. Secondly, the best managers will understand and empathize with team members, understand what motivates them, and will listen for what’s not being said. They choose to genuinely invest in their team members to make them better, which in turn, will help them to work better.
- Understands each team member’s management style and communication preferences.
- Does not criticize or complain.
- Believes in themselves.
- Does the best they can.
- Speaks with confidence.
- Solves problems.
Overall, a leader must lead by example. With poise, positivity, and confidence, a leader becomes a leader through being dependable, trusted, and respected. It is not by chance. It is by determination and willpower.
Pro – Tip: A leader does not complain. If you are stating a problem without a solution, you are complaining.
Step #5: Improve Your Overall Business Savviness
Never stop growing within your career. Even though you may have reached your goal and landed your ideal role, it’s important to continue to push yourself and improve your overall business savviness. This can be done on your own or with the help of others. Whether it’s reading new books to expand your business knowledge, seeking trainings for new programs or tools, developing new strategies based on industry trends, or meeting with people in various industries to learn different skill sets, you can always continue to develop and grow your business savviness.
Pro – Tip: Have a relentless hunger for success and knowledge.
Personal and professional development should never end. There is always room for improvement. So just as you’ve mapped out your ideal role now, there will come a time where you hit that goal and need to make a new goal then. Never stop reaching or dreaming. And when you inevitably hit a roadblock or speed bump, reflect, learn from it, and carry on. It all starts with your mental health and your ability to believe from yourself. Just as this blog started, your role is in your hands.