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By Duane Craig
June 11, 2018
Construction career paths vary from employer to employer. Some maintain detailed career advancement and training programs while others simply promote from whoever is available when a position opens up. That’s why, to a large degree, your ability to move up the ladder will depend on whom you work for, and how much value your company puts on its workforce plan, if it even has one.
The best roles to take on will depend on your goals, role availability, and whether you would even be considered a suitable candidate. For example, in a family-run construction firm, family members might get preferential treatment when it comes to promotion. Even in larger firms, investors and founders might have dibs on certain positions, if not for themselves then for relatives and friends.
Therefore, it is crucial you choose your construction employer wisely if you want to have maximum control over your construction career. You need an employer who offers the career path you're looking for and is also willing to assist you in advancing along that path.
1. Know Yourself
To start, know what you want. Are you interested in managing? Or do you prefer hands-on roles that put you right in the thick of the building? Would you rather work in the background or on the front lines? What about the other factors of your life? Do you see yourself in a role that allows you maximum free time and flexibility, so you have ample time to pursue a hobby? Maybe, you're most interested in a construction role within a specific geography.
Consider carefully the work style that suits you best. Some people are outgoing while others are more introverted. You can find many jobs in construction requiring either thoughtful analysis or brute force. If you can line up a career path that complements your personal style, you can work with less stress and be more successful at what you do.
Most importantly, when choosing your career goals is to consider your passions. Maybe, you like looking back at the end of the day and seeing something you created. Or you love analyzing the best ways to put structures together. Or you feel most inspired when tasked to solve complex problems.
Don't let the job decide your career because it probably won't be what you would have chosen for yourself. Without goals, you can't begin to set your sights on appropriate for you roles.
2. Know Your Career Path
There is a growth path in every construction skill. However, some are longer than others, and reaching the point with no more upward trajectory is very far on the horizon. For instance, if you start down a management path, the sky's the limit. You can end up managing an entire portion of a company or even an entire company. On the other hand, if you start on the craft worker path, you're more likely to hit a ceiling that limits your upward movement or requires significant retraining before you can advance. That's fine as long as love doing that kind of craft work. The point is, you may be limiting yourself from the start if you choose a narrow career path.
Once you know your goals and you chose a corresponding career path, and you're with an employer who is committed to your success, you can follow these tactics to climb the career ladder.
3. Continue Learning
Many aspects of construction are changing faster than ever. The old tools are getting smarter, and the new tools arrive at the job requiring new skills from the users. Construction is in a race to not just upskill its workforce but also to reskill it; the industry can thus reap the productivity gains promised by technology. If you aren't already a lifelong learner, now's the time to become one. The people who learn new skills and new ways of doing the work are the ones who will rise up the ranks the fastest in the coming years.
4. Train for Your Next Position
At each step up the ladder, you'll need additional skills. Find out what those skills are and use on-the-job or formal training to add them to your skill set. Don't forget about developing the crucial 'soft' skills for your next position. Communication skills and leadership skills are becoming more important than ever.
5. Communicate Your Career Goals
In most cases, your boss holds the keys to your advancement. When you regularly check in about your career aspirations, you not only stay top-of-mind, but you also show a sincere interest. Through your chats, you can gauge the promotion atmosphere to understand what opportunities might be opening up.
There's no better start to going up the career ladder than being the best at what you do. But, after that, it takes a clear understanding of where you want to go, and commitment to grow into the role you're after.
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