This inspiration for this blog post came out of seeing so many good talent getting stifled at the mid-senior technical levels and such bad experience with poor management.
What I can say for myself, is that I have been very attracted to technology to the point where I have made lateral moves in my career which leaves my at level thats less than what my experience could justify. Today, I will use the framework SFIA (Skills For the Information Age) guidelines on general levels of responsibilities in any organization to explain my points.
In SFIA, you have 7 basic levels and each level has its own attribute. For example each would have: Autonomy, Influence, Complexity and Business skills for that level.
The general levels are as follows:
5. Ensure, Advise
6. Initiate, Influence
7. Set Strategy, Envision
Notice this approach is not about specific knowledge at each level, even thought that is a critical part of the overall competency framework. It does focus on how the knowledge is applied in each case regardless of your job family whether its software development or pure project management.
In respect to accelerating your career to the next level . Here is the challenge, you may very well, have great skills for level 7 but maybe stuck at level 4-5 in your career. how do you break the deadlock?
Here are some general ideas you could explore.
1. Research the level you are after and gain as much knowledge as you can.
2. Confront your Manager to set clear deliverables and rewards to match your effort going forward. Asking for tasks that would allow you to demonstrate certain skills. Ask for feedback.
3. Find people at the level desired and develop relationship with them in order to learn how they go about work. This could turn into a full time mentor.
4. If your current job does not have any good prospects, start looking for another company or department.
On the personal skill side there many things you can do help your credibility on the relevant subject. Some of those I have are.
1. Start a blog to provide your opinion on the relevant topic. Link this your social networking profiles such as linkedin.com, facebook.com and many others. Also visit other blog in that market and comment on relevant postings.
2. Look for respectable training and/or certification in the relevant field. Some fields may not have certification per se, but a post-graduate course in the area could help.
3. Get proactive and talk to people on the topic in forums (online or in person). Maybe you could setup a mastermind group around the topic with like minded individuals.
4. Join online groups on the topic, then read and provide comments as appropriate on topics that is of interest to you. This is also a great way to publicize your blog or website.
In summary, the whole idea of this post is to first find out what you want, second develop a plan to get it and third, execute on that plan. There are lots of ways to acquire knowledge for free nowadays, but I think what you always need is guidance. In closing, the best way ever is to have a mentor in the specific area of interest.
Now, a word of caution is that some mentors will teach you short cut ways that can be good in some ways, but what you want is to really contribute value not just have a position. There are lots of people in high level positions whom do not have the qualities we discussed earlier, however wearing your moral hat, you will succeed long term even if it takes longer to get what you really wanted.
Again, not to lose this point, get a mentor or advisor.