In the hospitality industry, when responding to guest requests, we’re encouraged to provide an actual measurement of time. For example, we would tell a guest that their In-Room Dining order will be delivered “within 20-25 minutes” instead of saying “we’ll have it up to you shortly,” because each guest values their time differently and each has a different perception of time.
Similar to guests, I’ve found that college graduates beginning their careers often have a different perception of time, particularly when it comes to career progression. The span of time they believe it will take for them to move up, to move into another role, or to receive their first promotion varies dramatically from graduate to graduate and in my opinion, the word “slow” in any variation is often a word college graduates do NOT want to hear.
Realistic Time Frames
The idea that career growth will come “slowly” or move “slower” than their expectation is often unacceptable, but I feel it’s important that graduates embrace a realistic time frame. I know this is easier said than done, but it starts with the selection process when you’re interviewing for that first opportunity after graduation. Hopefully you selected an organization that offered career advancement, a company that during the interview process had recruiters and representatives that spoke to the available promotion opportunities and potential career paths if you joined their organization.
Assuming that this the case, you now have to examine your own perception of time. When do you expect to move up and receive your first promotion? Does your expectation match with the information you were given when you chose the organization? Recognizing that time frames will vary by industry, allowing yourself at least 1 – 2 years in your current role is probably most realistic. Focus on your day to day performance, excelling beyond the level of expectation for your current position, accepting that one good day or one successful project does not merit a promotion.
If It’s For You, Then It’s Yours
It’s easy to compare yourself to your peers, but essential that you realize that you are your own competition. Use the time to brand yourself as consistent, reliable, and prepared for the next role. Each day you’re winning fans and supporters, making an impression on the decision makers who will assist you with obtaining that position. You have to trust that your opportunity for advancement is there and steady the anxiety or eagerness that can deter your focus.
A Closed Mouth Doesn’t Get Fed
I can’t remember the first time someone told me that “a closed mouth doesn’t get fed”, but that one piece of advice has stayed with me. During your first year in your new role, take advantage of one on one time with your manager to solicit feedback and use scheduled performance discussions/evaluations to chat about your career progression and express your career goals.
Just remember that with these discussions timing is key. A discussion about your career progression on your 7th day of employment is likely too soon, but after 180 days of stellar performance, asking for exposure to additional facets of the division or new responsibilities is a reasonable request.