Creating Your Own Career Ladder
Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
For many retail dietitian positions, the path to internal career advancement may not be obvious. The good news is, you can take the lead to chart a course within your organization for your career and development. To get started, you’ll need to take an honest look at your career goals and understand the skills, knowledge, experience, and personal characteristics needed to move ahead. Here is a list of steps to get you started:
Step 1: Define Success
It is important to know what success looks like to you and where you want to go before you can begin crafting your plan. Write down your aspirations to help hold yourself accountable to your goals and career objectives.
Step 2: Communicate Your Ambitions
It is vital to let others know what you want to achieve so they can provide guidance and assistance. Include your boss and other formal and informal leaders that may provide support.
Step 3: Take an Inventory of Your Skills
This should include the transferable skills you possess that can be an asset in other roles. Consider writing, public speaking, project management, team building or negotiation skills. You can then identify the skills you may need to acquire for advancement. These may include management, technology or strategic planning.
Step 5: Build Relationships and Seek Assistance
From senior colleagues to internal mentors or industry professionals, chances are you already know people who can help you learn how to evolve in your career. Ask questions, invite yourself to meetings, network over coffee, reconnect online, and attend industry events. You may also want to consider working with a professional career coach, who can assess your background and potential objectively.
Step 5: Consider New Roles or Projects
A good way to try out different responsibilities at work without switching jobs is to take on additional projects for other teams as your time allows. You’ll get to know coworkers outside of your department better, build a new skill set (or hone an existing one), and possibly set the stage for a new role at your company.
Step 6: Track Your Accomplishments
This puts you in a better position to show you are ready to progress and provides key information for performance appraisals. It also offers you the opportunity to speak with peers and leaders to share what you've learned through your work.
Case Study for Success
Stephanie Schultz started her career with Skogen’s Festival Foods as a Supermarket Dietitian/Nutritionist and is now the Senior Director of Marketing & Communications. From the beginning, she reminded herself that the best doers are not typically promoted; the best leader is. Knowing she wanted to advance in her role, Stephanie first worked with a professional resume writer and career coach who helped her clearly define her values, purpose and priorities while assessing her strengths. She also kept an open mind regarding what career growth might look like and had to be ok with letting go of some direct responsibilities, like the daily dietitian work. Stephanie encourages others to be very self-aware about what you may want from your career and don’t be afraid to go for it. Each individual needs to look at their role within their corporation, while being realistic about change. Stephanie states that in retail, you may have to expand outside of dietetics to advance.