Build Your Own Career Ladder

Apr 03, 2019
By Lindsay LaNore

Where do you see yourself in the next five years? This question may border on cliché, but you’d be surprised how few people can succinctly answer it. In many cases, career uncertainty isn’t due to lack of planning or vision.
Lindsay LaNore ICBA
Thanks to technological disruption, industry consolidation, and multi-generational workplaces, the traditional career ladder—in community banking and elsewhere—is a splintered artifact of the past. And, believe it or not, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it offers new ways to think about career opportunities and advancement.

If you’re pondering how to achieve your goals and reap the highest degree of career satisfaction, consider: 

  1. Making Your Career Aspirations Transparent. Have honest conversations about what you want from your career with your boss. Sometimes these discussions can be hard, but when your objectives are clear your boss can tailor opportunities, education, and experiences that match your interests and align with your bank’s strategic priorities. 
  2. Growing Your Skills to Grow Your Job. The community banking world is rapidly changing. Stay abreast of industry developments and identify gaps in your skill set. Be independently proactive. Leverage learning opportunities and attend networking events and use this new-found knowledge to propose new ideas to your employer. You just might come up with the next great product or service offering for your bank’s customers.
  3. Asking Yourself if it Brings You Joy. Take a page from decluttering expert Marie Kondo. Write down your favorite things about your work. Then think about what things are missing that could really make it your dream job. Take it to your boss and see if there are additional responsibilities you can take on or new opportunities to explore at the bank.
  4. Making a Lateral Move. Sometimes a sideways move is your fastest way to the top or your path to greater career satisfaction. Are you a loan processor who loves analytics? You could be a shoo-in for roles as a credit or data analyst or for an in-branch operations or risk management position. Lateral moves can broaden technical skills and knowledge of bank business lines, ultimately making you a more valuable employee.

I should also point out that researchers have found that individuals who report the highest degree of job satisfaction say that their happiness is a byproduct of helping others rather than the result of its pursuit. When I think about the passionate community bankers that I know this makes a great deal of sense.  

Why? Because community bankers know that making a difference in their banks, with their customers, and within the communities they serve, is what makes the big difference at the end of the day. These bankers strive to grow and flourish in their roles at their banks and receive a great deal of personal and professional fulfillment from their careers as a result. 

Lindsay LaNore is group executive vice president of Community Banker University.