Millennials tend to care more about work-life balance than Generation X does, but it’s not because millennials are short on ambition; they just have a different kind of ambition. Resarch from Bentley University tells us that millennials actually want successful, high-paying careers. In fact, three-quarters of them want to strut their stuff in major corporations at some point.
However, unlike Generation X, millennials don’t want to sacrifice their work-life balance in the process of attaining their career goals. Combining corporate success and healthy work-life balance is a noble, but challenging aim – especially when you consider how many people are competing for the same career success.
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though. Here are five tips to help you meet your goal of getting promoted quickly while keeping your work-life balance intact:
1. Get a Mentor
When you are young, capable, and raring to go, the last thing you think you need is a mentor. What can a boomer or Gen. X-er tell you about technology and social media that you don’t already know?
However, older, more established professionals in your field can bring three important things your way: connections, recommendations, and wisdom. It should come as no surprise that employees with mentors are promoted five times more often than those who don’t have mentors. Getting a mentor is a great way to speed up your career development and increase your network of contacts without pulling 60+ hour weeks.
2. Take on Challenging Projects That Stretch You
When you’re just starting out, you should be careful not to fall into the presenteeism trap. Don’t spend extra hours in the office every night grinding out every task that comes your way. This brute-force strategy will not only destroy whatever aspirations you had of work-life balance, but it can also actively damage your career. Working excessively long hours can actually lead to a drop in your productivity – which is not very likely to impress the boss.
Of course, you’ll need to demonstrate that you have a good work ethic, but the key is to choose your projects well. Don’t take on every single task – just the ones that will challenge you and push you outside of your comfort zone. Employees who are prepared to stretch themselves, risk failure, and learn lessons while maintaining a positive outlook are considered fast-track promotion material.
3. Be Adaptable
Research from Korn Ferry shows that the higher you climb on the corporate ladder, the more ambiguous, unpredictable, and volatile your job becomes. So, if you want to be seen as promotion-ready material, you’ll need to demonstrate that you are comfortable with sudden change and uncertainty.
You can be the hardest worker in the office, but if you struggle with change, uncertainty, and ambiguity, then you may never be destined for the fast track. If you can position yourself as an agile and highly adaptable person who can remain effective in the face of crises and setbacks, you’ll do a lot to raise your profile with management.
4. Join the Management Troupe
Skill and attitude are important factors in getting promoted, but so are connections and relationships: Research shows that candidates who are recommended for jobs are many times more likely to get interviewed and appointed than those who aren’t referred.
So, one of the most powerful career advancement hacks is – to put it bluntly – brown-nosing. Socialize with your boss and other influential leaders as often as you can. Ingratiate yourself into their group, and then show them you are a dependable worker. Then, you’ll have a much better chance of scoring a much-needed reference from an influential source.
What’s great about all these career advancement hacks is that they depend on guile, tact, and strategic decisions – not 60+ hour weeks in the office. You don’t have to sell your soul to find career success; you just need to be smart about it.