No one likes feeling stuck in a rut. It is human nature to want to move forward and progress, both in our personal and professional lives. When it comes to the workplace, one in two people are motivated by career progression according to our 2023 Talent Trends report, which breaks down our survey of 70,000 professionals globally. 

But before you can step up, you need to build your skills and experience. This does not happen by chance; developing the skills you need takes time, commitment, and often support from your employer. Our study also found that one in four (24%) employees prioritise working for a company that invests in their professional development. 

While many companies will clearly lay out the skills you need to focus on to reach the next level, it is often hard to pin down the specifics of how you are meant to achieve that growth. This can be frustrating, especially if you are ambitious. 

But you don’t have to wait around – you can take your career development into your own hands. In this guide, we’ll show you exactly how.

Five ways to speed up your career progression

1. Ask your manager to help you build a career development plan

While some companies have this in place for every employee, sometimes you may be left with objectives but no pathway to help you meet them. Ask your manager to help you to build a career development plan that includes your goals, the skills you already have, the skills you need to move forward, and some indication of how you can develop them. 

Not all points on a career development plan will need training. In some cases, practice makes perfect. However, other skills are not so easily learned on the job. Working with your manager to identify what training might be needed and finding some courses you can take sets out clear expectations on both sides and gives you somewhere to start.

2. Don’t wait for your manager to come to you

Though they may have good intentions, managers will often have conflicting priorities and finding opportunities for your development may understandably slide down their to-do list. 

Taking a proactive approach to your career development is critical. Instead of waiting for your manager to come to you, identify a training course that you think is relevant to your progress and take the initiative to sign up. 

3. Lobby for more opportunities 

When you see an opportunity that could help to develop your skills, seize it. If you need to work on project management, make sure your manager knows that you want to take the lead. If your plan involves gaining experience of managing people, ask if you can have a role in training or even line managing the new hire. 

Not all opportunities are forthcoming, and if it seems like there will not be a chance for you to learn the skills or gain the experience you need within the near future, it is worth having a conversation with your line manager. They have a responsibility to help you achieve your goals and may be able to speak with others in the company to carve you out the development opportunities you need.

4. Find a free course or lecture and pursue your own interests

Career development does not only happen in the workplace. If there is a skill you need to learn or you think you would benefit from more knowledge in a certain area, try looking for free online courses or lectures from industry bodies or universities. 

Learning on your own time does not necessarily need to be linked to your current role to be impactful. Taking the initiative to find and pursue opportunities in your own time will impress the majority of employers and put you in a stronger position when an opportunity for promotion comes up. 

5. Take up a hobby that builds soft skills

Soft skills are incredibly valuable to employers, especially as you move up the ranks. Hobbies can help you to develop leadership and listening skills; they will also often teach you how to network and show that you are able to commit. 

Try to have examples of how you have applied these skills in the workplace at your next review – or if you interview for a new role – and you’ll demonstrate your resourcefulness and creativity.

What’s next?

If you are thinking about your next role, search our current jobs, or submit your CV today and one of our expert consultants will be in touch to help you with your job search.  

Are you earning what you're truly worth?

Download our salary guide to find how much you could be earning.

Download our salary guide

Are you happy at work?

Take our quick and easy quiz to find out your next career move.

Take our quiz: Steer your career

Looking for a new role?

Check out similar roles in your sector to see what else is on offer.

View our live roles