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Episode Transcript

This episode is about taking a leap forward in your engineering career. If you’re impatient with your progress and would like to see a step function change instead of an incremental one, stay tuned for our discussion today.

You want to maintain forward motion in your career. We discussed this in Episode 4 and a few times since. When you’re in forward motion, you’re learning and growing. It keeps you in the direction of progress.

Unlike forward motion, though, a forward leap is a step function change. Forward motion gives you incremental increases in job responsibility and pay. 

But a forward leap represents a sizeable enhancement of your job responsibilities and a significant rise in pay and benefits. 

You might look for a career leap every once in a while. To boost your progress or give yourself a new challenge. There are different seasons during your career when a career leap is a good idea.

If you’re looking for career leaps on a consistent basis, you’re seeking a faster path to higher level leadership positions. You’re aiming to maximize how far you go in your career overall. 

You know you’re ready for a career leap when you’re willing to

BUT you also have to be willing to go elsewhere. Because the best opportunities for you to make leaps in your engineering career are most likely outside your current job or organization.

Go Where the Engineering Career Opportunities Are

You already know that, in any given organization, there are many more engineers in lower level positions than there are high level positions for them to get promoted to. 

The options for making a career leap are limited where you are. You can be an awesome engineer, reliable and conscientious, always focused on top performance. And still not get the opportunities you want. 

You have to wait for positions to come open, and then compete with other outstanding engineers.

You’ll benefit in a couple ways by looking outside your organization.

The first benefit of looking beyond and going elsewhere is that you can target opportunities that are already open. Rather than waiting it out where you are. Thus you can time it to make a move sooner. 

The second benefit of going elsewhere is that you’re much more likely to get a higher pay raise compared to staying where you are. There’s a demand for good talent and employers will pay for that.

You can see, with this kind of strategy, how you can get farther faster in your engineering career.

How to Make Forward Leaps in Your Engineering Career

To help you get ready to make forward leaps in your career, here is some guidance on strategy. It basically consists of 3 parts:

Know your next step means always be looking ahead. As soon as you make a move, start planning the next one. More than just forward motion, you’re scanning the horizon for where you can make significant inroads.

Widen your search means open your radar beyond where you are. Beyond your team, department, division, or company. You want to target the organizations and available positions that align with you the most. But don’t limit your options to your current familiar territory.

Here are 4 ways you can widen your search:

  1. Strategize your networking to reach outside your organization.
  1. Build more connections to other places by taking broadening assignments. By positioning yourself for cross-organizational projects. Or by volunteering for activities that involve other groups.
  1. As long as it doesn’t jeopardize your current position, make it known to your boss and others what types of jobs you’re targeting in your career. Leverage their support and connections.
  1. If possible, get to know the hiring managers or other key people in the organizations you’re targeting.

Stay ahead of job requirements means be aware of any prerequisites for the positions you’re targeting. Like, training or experience or credentials. 

Don’t let these deter you. But find ways to stay ahead of those requirements by preparing yourself and/or negotiating to defer or substitute them. 

Like we’ve talked about before, you don’t need to meet all the requirements to apply for a job.

This is a different kind of career approach than a steady forward motion. It’s not for everyone. But if you’re after forward leaps in your career, you can make them part of your strategy and work them into your individual development plan.

With this strategy you’ll boldly step up to new opportunities and learn to adapt quickly.

You’ll do well with this strategy if you love to be challenged, if you’re always looking to advance your career to the next level, if you aspire to be a savvy leader. 

If you haven’t yet seen my guide “4 Steps to Start Commanding Greater Influence and Impact as a Woman Engineer,” be sure to check that out and get your free copy now.

Next time on Her Engineering Career Podcast we’ll talk more about overwhelm and what to do when you have way more work than one person can handle. This is a popular topic among my listeners. Be sure to tune in for Episode 73.