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Checkmate! How to Capture the King of Jobs

Happy at work?


Already searching the job board?

That’s great: it shows you’re ambitious to move on.  And there’s nothing wrong with ambition.

In many ways, it’s the driving force behind every career move (even the unsuccessful ones).

It may be time to start proactively planning your career progression.  It’s something everyone should be doing.  It’s the only way to ensure it happens!

Your move

Firstly, be clear about what you want to achieve and give some thought as to what your next two or even three moves need to be.  Ensure your ideas are realistic and achievable.  Gather as much information as you can about the job you desire.  Ask other colleagues, search the internet for tips and study requirements and specifications of similar jobs.


Next, examine yourself as a potential candidate.  What have you achieved?  What are your skills?  Do these match the skills and achievements needed for your next move?  Identifying any gaps from the outset will help you to allow enough time in your career plan to plug them!


Set yourself some targets.  These need to be SMARTER (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound and are evaluated and then re-evaluated).  Setting these personal targets is vital to keeping yourself focused on your career goals.  Revisit these targets regularly to monitor whether you’re on track to achieving your goal.


It would be a mistake to think that promotion always means planning to get your boss’s job.  At times, a sideways move can be even more beneficial for your long-term career plans.  This tactic ensures that you add to your CV and become a more rounded, more appealing candidate.  Think about how comprehensive your CV is.  Career progression isn’t always strictly linear.

Attack and Counter-attack

Seek out training opportunities where you can.  Your boss may not be very pro-active in letting you know about these (and s/he may not know your career targets), so you need to find these for yourself.   Get to know some good career-guidance websites, as these can be invaluable.  Book yourself on that long-overdue training course to refresh and update your skills.


Use performance management and your next 360 to fast-track your career progression.  Be open to feedback, no matter how critical.  Use it to revisit your targets and adjust accordingly.  Always act on any feedback you receive and make it clear to your employer that you’re ambitious to progress in your career.  You never know, an internal opportunity may become available.


Having a clear, comprehensive career plan is essential, whether you’re heading for one rung up the ladder or many.  If you’ve not had career success in the past, it might be time to rethink your plan.  Changing tack can often be the right solution for you.  As Emo Philips joked: “a computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick-boxing”!

Written on 3/1/2014 by Heather Foley. Heather Foley is a consultant at, a UK-based HR consultancy company.

Photo Credit: Kyle Rokos

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