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Be Ready for Your Next Job Role

Ask The Expert

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: I want to start preparing for my next assignment. I'm not necessarily looking for a promotion, but I want to be ready for additional responsibilities. What can I do now to be sure I'm ready?

A: It's good that you're thinking ahead to your next assignment. One word of caution—don't forget to do an outstanding job in your current role while preparing for your next one. I see so many people focus on what's next and slack off on their current responsibilities, sabotaging any chance they ever had for moving ahead. So, before you plan for your next job or role, exceed everyone's current expectations. That's how you'll get noticed and get additional tasks when you're ready.

That said, preparing for your next assignment can be challenging but also rewarding. Here are some ways to get started.

  1. Initiate conversations with people who are already doing what you want to do next. Ask them to meet for coffee or lunch so you can ask questions about their daily activities and challenges. Be sure not to come across as threatening in any way—you want to gather information from them, not scare them into thinking you're out to get their job!

  2. If you do a great job in your current assignment and continue to exceed expectations while increasing your skill set, you should be ready for your next role in your organization.


  3. Be highly observant in meetings and on email for clues as to what your organization values. For example, if the next assignment you think is right for you involves customers, clients, or members, watch what language your leadership uses when they speak about and to these audiences. Take notes and look for ways to incorporate that language into your vocabulary. Making this change could show your leaders that you share their approach.

  4. Take every opportunity to show your commitment to your organization and not just to your career. Volunteer for task forces or team projects, and participate actively in any organization-wide events, including social events.

  5. Make every effort to increase your knowledge base in the areas you think will be most valued in the assignment you're after. Sign up for employee development programs, participate in webinars (many of which are free), watch TED Talks or YouTube videos, or read books and articles on subjects that will round out your knowledge base.

If you do a great job in your current assignment and continue to exceed expectations while increasing your skill set, you should be ready for your next role in your organization. I wish you well as you progress in your career.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook. Do you have a question you'd like her to answer in "Ask the Expert"? Send it to [email protected]

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