Get Ahead Without the Corporate Ladder

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Gone are the days when you progress up the hierarchy at a steady pace, headed for corner office. There simply aren’t enough leadership positions to go around, and most people regularly switch jobs and organizations. With no ladder to climb, look at career moves differently:

  • Cast a wider net. Be open to horizontal experience, not just vertical progression. If you’re a financial analyst, for example, consider analyst positions in other areas, perhaps in market research or sales.
  • Prove you can handle the responsibilities. Find ways to demonstrate your capabilities. Are you interested in taking on a management role? Offer to help your manager by interviewing job candidates or training new people.
  • Grow your skills. Seek out opportunities to learn — and pounce on them. If no one in your company knows how to do something, take it upon yourself to master that skill. The knowledge you gain might make you a natural choice for the next open leadership position.

Adapted from the HBR Guide to Getting the Right Job.

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Many corporations are essentially feudal institutions which try to limit both the intellectual and spiritual growth of the individuals they hire. They are also externalizing entities, which seek to push off any cost they can onto society. The sad results of the corporate landscape are all around us: polluted lakes, dirty air, burned out workers, and broken families who could not cope with the plus 60 hour workweeks demanded by so many corporations. Americans have to learn to work for themselves; after all, we have learned (as Bob Dylan sang) that the new (corporate) boss is the same as the old (feudal) boss.