Have you set your sights on the next step up in your flight organization? If so, that’s great. But as you know, it’s very unlikely someone’s going to simply tap you on the shoulder one day, say “Congratulations!” and hand you a job promotion.

Like anything else worth earning, you are going to have to create a plan to achieve that goal and job. And that means preparing yourself—and the organization as a whole—for your place in the succession plan.

Following is a checklist of seven productive measures you can engage to help speed you on your way to a job promotion.

1.  Assess Your Current Work Performance.

The first thing to do is take a good, honest look in the mirror. How are you and the work you perform viewed by management, co-workers/peers, clients and suppliers? Do you think they perceive you as a leader, as someone with the “right stuff” to handle the additional responsibilities of the job you’re seeking?

It’s also a good time to look inward a bit and assess the level of your passion and attitude. Do you, yourself, think you have what it takes to succeed in your next position, or are you merely suffering from job burnout in your current role and looking for a lifeline? It’s also important to recognize that you might have to actively seek out opportunities to get some additional training and education to improve your readiness for a new position.

2.  Ask for Feedback.

As tough as it might be at times, asking your aviation management, peers, clients and suppliers for an honest assessment about how they perceive you and the work you do can be as eye-opening as it is necessary. This kind of “360-degree evaluation” can help immeasurably to improve your current and future performance because it helps illuminate how your work is viewed from several different perspectives.

3.  Talk to Your Boss.

Whoever manages your work right now is very likely to play an instrumental role in advancing you, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t let him or her know directly what your goals are. You might be amazed how valuable and refreshing having a frank discussion with your boss can be, and how much it might help your cause as you aspire to a promotion. By the same token, although it might be more formal, you can put together an individual development plan and share it—point-by-point—with your boss in a meeting that you request.

Along these same lines, talk to your manager about opportunities within the flight department or elsewhere on the airfield. If you learn that there’s no room for advancement at the present time, you might even ask him or her for a referral.
That means you should consider talking to other managers in your department, especially if you’re working for an aviation organization with multiple opportunities.

While you’re talking to your boss, it might also help you to take some initiative on a new task or project. You can volunteer to take on more, and ask for bigger, juicier projects that take you outside of your comfort zone. Or you can ask to learn about a potential new role in the flight department (e.g., schedulers meeting with the flight crew and vice versa).

4.  Update Your Resume.

This one should be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many aspiring job promotion seekers get caught without their resume in up-to-date shape. When you do work on it, don’t forget to list all of your latest certifications, training and qualified contributions, e.g., your work’s impact to the business bottom line expressed, whenever possible, in dollars and cents. Here are some resume-writing tips.

5.  Find a Mentor.  

This takes some real thought and planning, but being mentored can be invaluable. He or she might be someone who’s your age, or they might be older or younger. They don’t have to be a fellow employee; it can be someone from your church or your gym, even a family member. Whoever it is has to be someone who can be thoughtful and direct, and give you unbiased advice and feedback that you’ll respect and profit from. An important key is to find someone who will hold you accountable to your goals.

6.  Avoid Drama.

Another no-brainer for getting your next job promotion: don’t ever put yourself in a position to be a part of the gossip train. It’s petty and lacking in integrity, and it might paint you as a non-team-player. Most importantly, it’s never the sign of a true leader.

7.  Create Your Own Opportunities.

Sometimes, using a bit of good, old-fashioned ingenuity or creativity can help speed up your job promotion plans. If you don’t see a job for you within the current organization, why not create one? Do a little bit of legwork to outline a new position based on need or potential benefit to the company. It never hurts to try. You’re job creation journey might involve you becoming a safety leader, an operations manager, or many other important roles within the aviation department.

That’s just a handful of the many, many things you can do to take the reins for your career advancement. But try not to get too far ahead of yourself in your job aspirations.

Keep in mind that, in order to be a general, you must first be a very good lieutenant. That means you can’t put into action any of the items above if you haven’t first proven that you can perform your current duties with consistency and well beyond expectations.

Remember, time can definitely be on your side, especially if you help bend it a little to your advantage!

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