Is career progression about who you know or what you know?


Of the many different aspects of you and your personality that affect career progression, perhaps the most important is ambition. But ambition is only as strong as the opportunities that are presented to you in your working life. Two of the most important factors that can help you fulfil your ambitions are ‘who you know’ and ‘what you know’.

Who’s Who?

Establishing and building work relationships is the key to success. Many people keep their ‘work’ and ‘social’ lives completely separate, but in the technology-led world we live in today, the two are becoming more interlinked. As the lines blur between social media and business contacts, it’s sometimes difficult to retain the distinction, as sites such as LinkedIn encourage businesspeople to forge links with like-minded professionals.

In the real world, rather than the virtual one, the equivalent is networking, where you can meet people from related disciplines, who may be able to link up with you professionally. Another example of ‘who you know’ being an advantage in career advancement is when your work colleagues move on elsewhere and opportunities arise for you at their new workplace. Regardless of who exactly you know, the more contacts you have – and the more well-liked and respected you are – the more avenues will be open to you.

What’s What?

Another crucial factor in career progression is what you know: your specialisms and what makes you unique. If you stand out from the crowd, you will be more attractive to prospective employers. Ambition is all well and good, but without the knowledge to back it up, your career might stall.

Keep an eye on new legislation and training opportunities. Be at the forefront of new thinking and make yourself indispensable to your company’s business strategy. It’s all about demonstrating your breadth of knowledge and depth of experience.

A CV is a shop window for prospective employers and needs to be a true reflection of ability. Experience is something that you can’t replicate without living it. You learn as you go along, from other experts and sometimes from your own mistakes.

Career progression isn’t just about who and what you know, but these can be big factors in career fulfilment. If you feel directionless, perhaps you need to discuss your work with someone, to get you back on track. When it comes to maximising potential, career coaches can look at what skills you have at your disposal and make the most of what you’ve got to be successful.