Finding Your Career Path in a Company

One of the things I love most about writing this blog is being able to help professionals from all of the world with their career success questions.  I am honored to be able to help my readers directly.  Here is a question about how to find your career path I received that may be faced by many people out there.  I wanted to share the question and my response to help others.

Reader Question:  … I’m an educated architect and MSRE and have excelled at most every career/educational goal I have endeavored to undertake.  However, I am perpetually stuck in “upper middle” management.  While my direct supervisor constantly commends me for my work and assures me that,”this will take me places”, the organization I currently work for doesn’t have org charts showing career progression, developing leader platforms, etc.  Furthermore, my direct doesn’t seem to know what the next step is.  What are your thoughts about contacting a regional manager within my current Line of Business directly given the parameters set forth above?

Most sincerely,


Lei Han-square144
Peter, thanks for reaching out to me.  I am glad you like the blog.  In terms of your question and the context you provided, here are some thoughts.
  1. Have a direct discussion with your boss – I assume you have explicitly discussed your desire to progress and directly asked your supervisor about your career path in the next 2 to 5 years in the company.  The reason I asked is often times we make assumptions based on indirect conversations.  These assumptions may not always be on point.   If you have not directly had a conversation, I would schedule a meeting first with your direct supervisor just to discuss your career path.  To learn more about how best to do this, see this article from my newsletter for tips  – How to Talk about Your Career Goals with Your Boss
  2. Ask your boss who else to speak with about your career path – Assuming you have done #1, and he or she has said he doesn’t know.  Then I would consider expressing the desire to talk to someone higher up about your career path to your supervisor and ask for his advice on who to contact.  This way, it doesn’t seem like you are going over his head and he can help you connect with a more senior person for discussion.  Otherwise, if you go direct to a regional manager, that manager will very likely contact your boss and that could create an awkward political situation for you.
  3. Get advice from a senior mentor in the company.  The other path is to informally talk to a senior person in the company for advice. You can only do this if you have a personal connection with that person.  If you do with this regional manager, then you can go direct and tell him you want to talk off the record.  It could also be someone not in your department so they can give you other idea.
  4. Look for career progression elsewhere.   The last tip that I would pursue is talking with other companies that may better value your talent and promote you to the next level.  Sometimes the opportunity in a company is just limited no matter what you do and it’s time to move on.  Many people change jobs to progress in their career.  You can read another newsletter article on Know When to Change Jobs – Watch for six signs.  Changing jobs take work but it is worth it in the long run if you are stuck.

I hope these tips help you.  If you would like further advice, please take a look at my career coaching page and let me know if you would like to do a free 10 min coaching session or a private coaching session.   Best wishes to your career success!

Your comments:  What other advice do you have for Peter?  What other questions do you have regarding this topic? share your comments below

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