You must have had a few jobs in your life, and you surely have found that the best way to get ahead is by helping others succeed. If you’re looking for your next career opportunity, here are some ideas for career development for black employees:
Find a mentor
As you work your way up the ranks and become more established in your career, you can also lean on mentors for help. Mentors are colleagues who have experience and knowledge that you might benefit from learning about. They can help guide you as you navigate the workplace, find opportunities within the company, build relationships with other people in the company, and build your confidence (and they’re usually super-nice people).
An important note: not all employees have access to a formal mentorship program at their organization—but if yours does exist, definitely check it out! These programs can offer just as much value as those who choose to get advice from an informal mentor or colleague.
Join a black professionals network
Joining a black professional network is one of the best ways to find good career opportunities. Once you’ve joined a network like this, it’s important that you stay active and engaged by attending meetings regularly and connecting with your mentors.
Keep up with your community online as well by joining Facebook groups related to the cause—many organizations have them! But don’t forget: while these networks can help improve your chances of landing job opportunities, they’re not all about getting hired. Many offer educational events where members can learn new skills or pick up certifications that may benefit them down the road (and look great on their resumes).
Seek out sponsors, not just mentors
Mentors are people who can help you, and sponsors are people who can help you get ahead. Sponsors are people who know your work and will advocate on your behalf. They can be in the form of a senior leader or manager, but they don’t have to be. Sponsors come in all shapes and sizes—even just an individual employee at another level or division within an organization can serve as a sponsor for someone seeking career opportunities within their company.
Financial advisors like Intuit say, “One powerful way to retain top Black talent is sponsorship. Sponsors are expected to use their leadership capital to propel the career of their protégé by providing exposure, visibility, feedback, and advocacy.”
Initiate change in your workplace
If you are a black employee, you can initiate change in your workplace by being willing to speak up about issues that may impact the advancement of other black employees. In addition, be willing to take on new responsibilities and volunteer for projects that you think will benefit the company.
If there is a project that needs to get done, but no one has volunteered for it yet, step up and do it yourself. Be proactive about sharing what a great job you did with your manager or colleagues so they will recognize your value as an employee and give you more opportunities in the future.
You can do many things to improve the opportunities for black employees in your workplace. You may not always be able to control who gets promoted or hired, but there are still things you can do to make sure that black workers have access to good jobs and career paths. If you’re interested in getting involved at your company level, check out more info on diversity and inclusion.