Promotion - Internal or External?

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Promotion: should you wait for internal promotion or move to another institution?

If you are mostly happy in your job, you have a good work-life balance, get on with your colleagues and you find your day to day tasks fulfilling, but you can’t see a way to better yourself and seek promotion, be very careful about moving to a different company or institution. You might end up in a worse situation!

What do you want:

Undertake a self-assessment of your career. Do you simply want a new challenge, or for current performance to be recognised? Is it more money that you’re after? Or do you have a vague sense that by now you should have progressed? Once you have worked this out, you will be able to understand more easily how to achieve it.

Ways to improve your situation within your current job:

- Talk to people

Talk to your mentor and your line manager about your career ambitions. You should have the opportunity to discuss this at annual personal development meetings, but you’re also within your rights to ask to meet with them at any time. Ask them to provide you with job descriptions of your role and the level above. Come up with an action plan of things you need to do in order to demonstrate that you are working at the higher grade.

- Get some training/experience

If there are skills or knowledge that you do not have that are crucial for the next step, ask for some training. This will improve your CV and will also demonstrate to your colleagues that you are serious about progressing your career. Also show that you are willing to develop new skills within your current role, for example by volunteering to shadow more senior colleagues.

- Opportunities in your own job

You don’t have to leave in order to develop your career. Even if there are no opportunities available within your team, you might be seconded to another team or take on other roles within your institution. In academic life this is possible by taking on temporary visiting lectureships, short term research posts, or by undertaking roles for the faculty or central administration rather than only working for your department.

If you have tried this and still no career progression is open to you, then consider a move to another institution.

- Are they willing to hire you at the same level or higher?

Some places have strict rules about hiring new staff at the bottom of a grade boundary or they might have long probation periods. Make sure that you are aware of these issues before committing to a new job. You may end up worse off.

- Look at the whole package

Although career progression is an important part of job satisfaction, it is only one aspect. Make sure that you would be genuinely happy at another institution. What would your day to day duties be? Would the hours be the same? What about the convenience of getting too and from work? Would you have to move house? Don’t just follow the money and the status of a higher grade: think about the bigger picture of your working life.

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