Too many people make a career mistake that lets their dream job pass them by

Running TrainGetty‘It’s not your manager’s job to make sure you have the necessary skills to advance.’

“In today’s workplace, it’s not your manager’s job to make sure you have the necessary skills you need to advance; it’s yours.”

This harsh wake-up call comes courtesy of Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew, coauthors of “The New Rules of Work.” The book distills the most important lessons Cavoulacos and Minshew have learned as COO and CEO, respectively, of careers advice and job listings site The Muse.

Unfortunately, too many people wait for their manager to plop a promotion — or at least a game plan for getting a promotion — in their lap. As a result, they may find themselves stagnating in their careers.

The authors recommend one simple strategy to make sure you don’t fall into this trap: Keep browsing openings for jobs that you might like to hold in the future. Focus specifically on the skills section of the descriptions — especially those skills that are required for the position, but that you don’t currently have.

That way, you’ll be able to identify the exact hurdles you need to overcome to progress to the next stage in your career.

Note that this strategy is useful even if you’re perfectly content in your current role (and we hope you are!). At some point, you’ll want a promotion, or at least a new challenge — even if it’s within the same company. Prepare now for the moment when that urge strikes.

The authors write: “Professionals who stay upwardly mobile don’t let years go by without thinking about the next step; they constantly keep their career trajectory at the front of their mind.”

Another, similar technique the authors suggest is browsing your contacts’ LinkedIn profiles. Look at people who hold positions you might want, and see what kinds of skills or experiences they have listed on their profiles.

Once you’ve identified those skills you’ll eventually need, you can work on gaining them — by taking a course, going to conferences, or volunteering to work on a new company project.

“Proactively pursuing the learning you need to take your career to the next level,” the authors write, “is what differentiates great professionals from average ones.”

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