When speaking with clients, I often discuss what path they would like to take within an organization. Some individuals are very confident in knowing that they are comfortable in their current position and have little or no desire to move professionally within the organization. They do a great job in their current role, have mastered the requirements, and feel satisfied and motivated with the work. There is nothing wrong with this.

I have known individuals who have worked 20 or 30 years in the same position, with the same organization, and were extremely satisfied all their professional lives. Some would call this complacency. I call it career and life satisfaction. As we all should agree, what makes an individual professionally happy varies from person to person. The definition of success is unlimited!

On the other hand, I have worked with several clients who have a strong desire to move within their organization. They are looking at the next promotion, the next challenge, the next opportunity, or simply making a positive mark on their reputation. They aspire to expand their leadership abilities and scope of work. Regardless of what an individual’s reason is to move within an organization, the question of preparedness comes into play. 

I have coached several individuals who have had their eye on the next promotion and patiently wait for the opportunity to exist. They simply wait for their company to post the position internally or for the current position holder to retire. I ask every person in this situation how they are preparing themselves at the present moment for that next opportunity. Many times, the answer is related to their tenure within the company. Most often, I will hear, “Well, yes, I should get that position since I have been with the company the longest!” However, the reality is: it is not the tenure of an individual that determines who is most prepared for the next opportunity; it is what exists on their “Internal Resume.”

Organizational tenure without substance and value is nothing more than a passage of time.  Each of us has an Internal Resume that is populated by all that we have done to bring value to the organization and develop ourselves as leaders within the organization. This Internal Resume is much different than what we think of as the traditional resume.  The traditional resume details your entire career, educational accomplishments, and past successes.

No matter who I speak to, one thing resonates—organizations are starving for those who are leaders and bring value, in some way, to the organization. Organizational leaders seek out opportunities to continuously build their Internal Resume. They never sit back waiting for that proverbial tap on the shoulder. They never become complacent. Leaders are progressive and active in their search to bring value to the organization. In doing so, they become more effective in their current role or elevate themselves to be better positioned for other opportunities.

Here are a few examples of how anyone can add to their Internal Resume:

  • Develop one’s leadership skills through involvement in a formalized training and coaching program.
  • Accept additional responsibilities outside of one’s normal workload.
  • Take leadership roles with projects.
  • Obtain relatable certifications or formalized education.
  • Volunteer for additional assignments.
  • Mentor and/or coach others within the organization to help build their skills.
  • Suggest process improvements or cost reductions.
  • Be the “expert” in certain areas and help transfer that knowledge to others.
  • Share applicable resources (i.e., articles, blogs, podcasts, etc.) with others.
  • Represent the organization in community activities.
  • Serve on industry Boards and committees.
  • Be involved in internal committees (professional and social).
  • Be known as a collaborator, team player, and positive culture driver.
  • Think strategically and develop ideas.
  • Seek out every developmental opportunity that exists.

There is no guarantee that adding to the Internal Resume will result in a promotion or higher salary. However, those with a “heavier” Internal Resume will become more effective in their current role, be better positioned for additional opportunities as they become available, and bring the most value to the organization.

How heavy is your Internal Resume?