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Career advancement doesn't always mean management

We all know them. Misplaced managers who would be more effective doing something else. Most times it's not their fault. These people want to succeed and took a promotion because they had no other choice. Their companies have a rigid and hierarchical path making promotion to management the only way to advance.

Not everyone wants to be promoted, but most people want to advance their careers. Happily, research shows that there are now more opportunities to do just that. More and more progressive companies are stressing varied career paths. Many are striving to retain employees and help them grow along with the company. One example is Nexeon, an information technology services company in Naperville, Ill. Its website touts a variety of career paths, training and opportunities that play to employees' strengths and need for personal growth.

Here are two examples of jobs that progressive companies are creating:


A strategist is a big picture, trend analyzer. Strategists analyze what's going on socially, economically and in business. They project what will happen in the next several years and how those happenings translate into business opportunities for their company.

For instance, strategists are looking at the burgeoning boomer population and figuring out what products and services boomers will need as they age.

Project manager

A project manager oversees and implements a major project. Project managers may or may not have employees, but they always head teams. They tend to have entrepreneurial personalities, meaning that they make good directors, are comfortable taking risks, delegate well and know how to get things done and how to get people to work together.

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If your company doesn't have similar opportunities, get creative. Grow the job you have into a position that will bring you the financial rewards and prestige equivalent to getting promoted. Here are some tips:

• Do you have a unique skill that can benefit your company? Show how your ability can translate into new markets, additional income and more customers.

• Push beyond your comfort zone. Find an internal mentor who can advise and guide you.

• Let your superiors know you want to advance. Show them you have the necessary ambition and creativity. Put your ideas on paper and sell yourself.

• Solve problems. Most businesses have some outstanding headaches they haven't been able to overcome. Use your creativity to untangle these long-term puzzles.

• Think "collaboration." Can you work with another department in your company to benefit your company's goals?

• Think "new combinations." Can your company's products and services combine with another company's products and services to create a whole new market? For example, in some areas, assisted living facilities and kindergartens are located on the same parcel of land so that elderly patients and young children can mingle and learn from one another.

Give yourself permission to build your own career ladder and promote yourself. Create your own opportunity. Then work hard. As Thomas Alva Edison said, "Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like hard work."

Marie R. Stempinski is the founder and president of Strategic Communication in St. Petersburg. She specializes in marketing, public relations and business and career consulting. She also leads workshops. She can be reached at

Career advancement doesn't always mean management 06/06/10 [Last modified: Friday, June 4, 2010 5:36pm]
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