Career growth is a factor many job seekers prioritize when choosing their next career move. If you’re early in your career, you want to build a long-term foundation. If you’re mid-career, you want to fill in gaps your skills or expertise. If you’re later in your career, you don’t have as many moves to make so you want to ensure this next job gets you to or close to your end goal.
Most companies will say they offer career growth, but how do you make sure the company fosters growth and that your role in particular has opportunity for growth? Here are five ways to make sure your next job offers career growth:
Compare the new job to your existing resume
Irrespective of the company you’re joining, the job itself could be a growth opportunity because it fills a gap in your resume. This could be a particular skill – e.g., use of a particular software or system, financial analysis, client interaction. Or you might be using the same skills but in a different industry or geography. Finally, this job might expand your management experience — of people, budgets or projects.
Review upcoming projects and responsibilities
During the interview process, confirm the day-to-day responsibilities, as well as projects in the pipeline. Ask for how success will be measured and specific results the company is looking for. Are you challenged and excited by what you hear? Will getting this job done test your abilities and stretch your comfort zone? Or do you think you’ll get the hang of things within a few months? New jobs will often be challenging simply because you are new to how the company does things and what exactly you need to accomplish. But eventually you will adapt, and if career growth is a priority, you want to ensure there is enough variability in the job to keep you challenged.
Look at the people who came before you
Also during the interview process, ask what happened to the person in the role before you. If they moved up in the company, that’s a good sign. If they moved into a good role in another company, that’s still a good sign. If they’re detoxing at a silence-only monastery, that’s not necessarily a bad sign (maybe it was a bucket list item for them) but you may want to dig further. Keep in mind that the issue with your role could be how it’s structured or it could be the boss. If you can, ask people who know your prospective boss whether s/he coaches and mentors the team.
Check the overall company’s track record for people development
Not just for your role, but overall for the company, look at where people who have left the company have landed. Do people move into bigger roles and brand-name companies? Or do people take lateral moves into roles with the same responsibilities (a potential sign that people are just looking to get out or that experience at that company doesn’t propel people upward)? Ask recruiters if they value talent from that company. Some companies are known for developing their people well , and some are know for burning people out.
Confirm how you’re defining career growth so you look at the right factors
So far, my examples have been about expanding your skill set or expertise to grow your career, but your particular career might need a different kind of boost. Let’s say you have worked exclusively at large companies but you want to migrate to start-ups. A career-growing move might be to take a role at a smaller company, even if it comes with a smaller team and/ or a smaller scope. If it gets you into a different kind of environment and proves you can work more hands-on and with fewer resources, then this could be exactly what your career needs.
Career growth is a catch-all phrase that encompasses a lot of factors. Make sure you clearly define what your career needs so you don’t model your decisions after someone else’s career path.