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The Executive Files
by Sally Stetson '83

8 Ways to Advance Your Career to the Next Level
March 2014

It is always refreshing to speak to students, young professionals and mid-career executives. I find it broadens my thinking, and the group shares great ideas throughout the collaborative process.

At a recent Drexel School of Public Health event, I spoke to fellow attendees about how to advance their careers to the executive level.

Here are eight suggestions we shared on advancing careers:

Know your career objective and pursue it with vigor: If you are fortunate enough to have found your interests and passions in the workplace, do your best to understand and become an expert in the field. Determine how you can continue to advance your skills and knowledge on an ongoing basis.

Competence alone won't advance you in your career: Speak up. Ensure you ask for what you need and don't be shy about "tooting your own horn." You need to be noticed for a job well done; don't assume your boss or other key leaders know what you have accomplished.

Take some career development risks: It is important that you take charge of your career. Be proactive. Have discussions with your boss about what you'd like to do next. Partner with him or her and develop recommendations on your next steps. Make it easy for your supervisor to say "yes" and help you move to the next level.

Network, network, network: You should network even if you are not looking for a new job. Networking can expand your thinking—learn what others are doing and determine how you can apply that information to your immediate world. Focus on a life-long practice of developing relationships. Ensure those relationships are a two-way street—give and get. That practice will pay you back many times over.

Fake it until you make it: If you are moving into a stretch assignment, it is important to think positively and reassure yourself that you are capable and competent. Self-doubt can hinder your confidence and performance.

Establish your executive presence: Do you dress professionally and look your best? Do you have good posture? Do you maintain eye contact? Do you inspire confidence and remain calm even during the most challenging moments? It is important that you look and speak the part to become an executive.

Act like a leader: It is essential to think strategically, have a vision and inspire others with your vision. Effective leaders are outstanding communicators and excellent relationship builders. Managers who withhold information are viewed as ineffective leaders.

Emotional Intelligence: As your mother told you over and over again—be nice to everyone and say thank you! Employees gravitate towards nice, interesting and engaging people. They want to be around them, learn from them and be like them.

It's common for those just getting started or those already on a career path to get "stuck" in doing the same things. If that is the case, step outside of your comfort zone and try to mix it up. Try something different.

Hopefully, these suggestions will help you in your current role and, with a little more effort, they may lead you into that promotion you were hoping to receive sooner rather than later.


About the Author

Sally Stetson '83
Principal and Co-founder, Salveson Stetson Group, Inc.

Sally Stetson is a principal and co-founder of Salveson Stetson Group, Inc., a retained executive search firm located in Radnor, Pa. supporting clients across the country in identifying and placing senior level executives in diverse functions ranging from finance, sales/marketing, human resources and general management. The firm currently has over 16 employees. She has over 25 years of experience providing recruiting and consulting services to a broad range of organizations, including life sciences and pharmaceutical firms, manufacturers, hospitals, professional service firms, service organizations and non-profit institutions.

Stetson has particular expertise in consulting with organizations regarding recruitment processes as well as assisting them in managing change. She has worked with senior management in evaluating and implementing effective communication plans during times of change.

In addition, she has effectively managed multiple searches for large and small organizations, working closely with senior management for the duration of the searches. Stetson is particularly focused on assuring appropriate "fit" for the candidate and company.

Stetsony was formerly vice president of Client Services for Right Management Consultants, a Philadelphia-based international career management and human resource consulting firm. During her years at Right, Stetson was widely regarded as one of the firm's leading consultants, both in generating new business and delivering consulting services to corporate clients. She secured and managed many major consulting and restructuring assignments for some of Philadelphia's leading companies.

Prior to her position with Right Management Consultants, Stetson was vice president of Executive Search Services for W.K. Gray and Associates, a retainer-based executive search firm. Prior to Gray, Stetson held positions with Thomas Jefferson University and Drexel University.

Stetson holds a master of arts from Drexel University and a bachelor of science from the University of Delaware. She currently serves as chair of the Board for the Please Touch Museum. In addition, Stetson serves on both the Advisory Council of the Pennsylvania Conference for Women and the Advisory Board of Drexel University's Harold Steinbright Career Development Center. She is past president of the Board of Directors for the Forum of Executive Women and the National Adoption Center. In addition, Stetson has served on the Board of the Human Resource Planning Society, the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Human Resources Planning Group.

In 2003, Stetson was named one of Pennsylvania's "50 Best Women in Business" by the Governor of Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Business Journal named her as one of its "2006 Women of Distinction" for her outstanding contributions both professionally and in the community. In addition, Stetson has been selected as one of SmartCEO Magazine's 2010 BRAVA! Women Business Achievement award winners.