Stop chasing your next promotion and focus on gaining experience instead

Ambition is an essential trait in the development of any comms consultant; it pushes you on, keeps challenging you, and ultimately makes you a better practitioner.

Your career is not a race; slow down and build your experience, advises Chris Owen
Your career is not a race; slow down and build your experience, advises Chris Owen

However, ambition doesn't mean urgency for the sake of it, and to the detriment of experience.

Much of this mindset is fuelled by taking a short-term approach to development, which simply doesn't pay off in the long term.

A senior role for requires depth of knowledge, skill, judgement and pragmatism that only time in the job can deliver.

The goal should always be expertise, not the job title – and ultimately, simply chasing the latter approach will prove to be self-defeating.

You'll be found out at some point of your career as you get more and more senior and the lack of depth to your experience is uncovered.

However, the 'race' mindset remains.

Agency moves for the sake of a new title are prevalent and yet a fallacy in terms of growth.

Settling into a new company, with new clients, new teams, a new way of working – it all takes time to grow into your role.

So why take this on while having to concurrently perform a role above the one which you've left? Why not go in at the right level and grow into your role and, arguably, enjoy it a lot more?

The next-level mindset is not exclusive to job moves, though.

It's a significant problem within agencies; looking at time in the role, rather than ability to fulfil the demands of the new level.

Your anniversary doesn't define when you're ready for the next role.

Arguably worse is that you get promoted due to office politics, client necessity, or because of cultural fit.

By proxy, the salary bump that inevitably comes with it means you end up being paid too much for the role you don't actually deliver.

Promotions should be awarded when they're deserved – irrespective of how long you've been in the role.

You should have KPIs set, and if you hit those targets in six months, happy days: promoted. If you hit them in 18 months, happy days: promoted.

The long-term version is arguably more rewarding, both financially and personally.

I'd argue it's also probably a lot healthier, with less stress, fewer late nights, and better sleep.

So enjoy your career. Learn from the best that you work with and who have the experience you should aim for yourself.

Become a better consultant, find your niche, and develop it.

There's so much to a career in PR and you never stop learning, which is why I still love it nearly 15 years since dressing up as Pudsey Bear as an intern.

Chris Owen is the UK director of the Hoffman Agency


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