How to Carve Your Internal Career Path


By Michelle DesChenes, Executive Vice President of Diversity Search and Direct Hire

Time and time again I’ve seen solid employees start job searching because they think there’s no room for growth with their current employer. But what if I told you there is usually always room for growth… you just have to carve your own path. Here’s how.

Look Before You Leap

When you’re looking for career growth, the easiest thing to do is to look within your own company. Are you in an environment that will provide a springboard to your next step? If so, make sure to imagine yourself in that next role – is it actually something you want and is it in an environment you want?

For example, I used to work at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and I was happy as a clam as a Regional Field Manager. Then, I got my big break to work in the corporate office. I had worked so hard for this! But when I got there, I realized that all of the things I had loved about my job were missing – the interaction with customers, working with my great team, and the hustle and bustle of working “in the field.” The job that I thought I wanted was different than what I had perceived it to be.

So, when you think about that next step, think about if it’s something you actually want.

Do Your Legwork

One of the best ways to ensure you’d be happy moving to a different position in your company is to do your legwork! Start by having a casual conversation with someone in a different department – get to know that person a little and treat them to a coffee. Ask what their day-to-day is like, what makes someone successful in that role, how they interact with colleagues, and what their goals are as part of that team. The aim is to get a clearer picture of what it’s like to work in the field you have your eye on.

Don’t underestimate the company newsletter, either – check out what is happening across the board. Is there any other division or type of work that catches your eye? Even if you don’t have direct experience, most companies are willing to invest in training if they’re promoting from within. But first, you need to have a conversation with your manager.

Talk to your Manager

The best way to approach your manager about growth is to first make sure you have annual reviews scheduled. If possible, schedule informal check-ins every few months to keep a pulse on your progress. Managers appreciate when employees ask for feedback, it makes the process more organic and will help you stay on-track for possible promotions in addition to staying top-of-mind with your manager when projects come up (a great growth opportunity!).  During one of your regular check-ins, ask what opportunities are available. Is there growth? Ask. Don’t assume that because there’s no job on the website that there’s nothing for you in the plan. And, importantly, don’t assume your manager understands that you want to grow. They may not know.

Ask for Opportunities

Before you get a new role, proactively take on the work of what you want to do – this will help you gain experience, prove you can do it, and create value for yourself. Even if the opportunity doesn’t pan out, you’re building experience for your resume and can point to this work when you approach your manager.

When you go to your manager to ask for the opportunity, be specific about what you want. Come with solutions, not questions (i.e. have a plan mapped out). For example, someone could go to their manager and say “I want more”. But if your manager doesn’t know what this means, or misinterprets your goals, you could set yourself back. So, be specific because when you say “I want marketing” they could interpret it as “I want to hand out pamphlets.” Make sure your manager truly understands what your “more” means.

Whatever your career path is, believe in yourself. And if all else fails, call KNF&T and we can help!