Career Corner: July-August 2007

August 1, 2007

When I joined my company two years ago, I was told that a rotational program would be good for my career. Six departments, six bosses, and six great evaluations later, I've discovered that more recent hires who've worked in a single department are to be promoted over me. Should I look for a new job outside the company?

Rotational programs can be a great way to learn about a business-with a couple of caveats: The program needs to explicitly state what you are expected to accomplish during your time in each department, and your progress should be overseen by a single person. Without these program components, you risk being viewed simply as a good "temp." And however much your managers appreciate your work, after only four months, they still don't know you well enough to go to bat for you.

Can you salvage your current situation and get your career on an upward track? Possibly-if you have a sympathetic human-resources department or have built a relationship with a more senior manager. You'll need two things: an "elevator" speech, a thirty-second explanation of the reasons you should be moved up in the company, and a top-notch résumé that focuses on what you've accomplished in each position. Be as specific and as quantitative as possible about your achievements, and, remember, it doesn't matter what you learned. It matters what you did with that learning.

While you're pursuing internal options, don't hesitate to investigate higher-level positions elsewhere. Your varied experience is an advantage, because it's undoubtedly taught you how to be effective in different environments. By now, you also know what you're good at and the type of work you want to avoid. Knowing who you are and where you want to go is one of the most effective ways to achieve career success.

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The Career Center, in association with the Duke Alumni Association, provides career advice to alumni.
Call 919.660.1050 for more information or an appointment.