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Strategies for Career Advancement | WU Executive Academy

Career: Strategies for Professional Development

The modern working world is characterized by technological changes, global networking and the need for lifelong learning - this affects our professional environment. While careers used to be understood as a linear sequence of positions within a single company, today they encompass a variety of experiences, roles and industries. In short, careers today need to be flexible and can go sideways, downwards or in a completely new direction.

From career planning and salary negotiations to dealing with professional failures and successes - we have compiled the most important career-related information to support you on your individual career path.

Career Planning: Ongoing Thought Processes for Long-Term Success

The dynamic nature of the working world offers both opportunities and challenges. Successful career management requires strategic planning and a willingness to constantly develop. With this in mind, however, the question arises as to whether and how a career can be planned at all, as it has become more of a dynamic development that involves far more than just deciding on your next career move. You should therefore view your career planning as an ongoing thought process.

A well thought out and structured career plan provides clarity about your strengths, interests and qualifications while helping to identify opportunities and paths that contribute to achieving career goals. However, it is neither necessary nor useful to plan every step in advance. A systematically developed career plan provides a framework for measuring progress, making modifications where necessary and actively shaping career development rather than passively waiting for opportunities.

Table of Contents

Guide to Planning Your Career

A key concept that can help you build a successful career in our fast-paced BANI working world is the Career Triangle. Moving away from traditional career concepts such as "money, status, leadership", this model emphasizes the importance of a balance between "skills, passion and context". By analyzing and addressing these three areas, you create optimal conditions not only for your professional success, but also for your personal development, giving you the key to an equally fulfilling and promising career.

1. Expand Specialist Expertise

The digital transformation in particular, but also the pandemic, has fundamentally changed the way we learn. High-quality educational opportunities are often just a mouse click away and only with "up to date" know-how will you be ready to seize career opportunities when they appear on the horizon. That's why continuing education and expanding your professional skills are critical to a successful career. Through training, certification and practical experience, you can deepen your expertise and specialize in your field. Current developments, for example in the areas of sustainability or digitalization, also highlight the need for lifelong learning.

2. Promote Personal Development

At a time in which the demands on employees and managers are constantly increasing, it is also particularly important to continuously work on your soft skills such as communication abilities, time management and problem-solving competence. Identify and develop your personal strengths in order to define your career goals. A career goal points the way, motivates and inspires. An action plan helps you to identify which further educational courses are suitable for you, where your interests lie, which values you want to represent and how your career decisions fit in with your work-life balance. Question yourself, review your decisions and find out why sometimes the intention is better than the goal itself.

3. Prioritize Networking

In our digital and globalized working world, networking is more important than ever, as it often decides between professional success or stagnation. So strengthen your professional relationships! A good network thrives on maintaining relationships, regular communication and sharing resources - it's not enough to just collect business cards. Platforms such as LinkedIn are essential for maintaining professional contacts, and your network should not be limited to your own company. Participation in discussions, workshops, professional training as well as showing interest and actively listening are also essential for the development of a functioning network.

By establishing, expanding and maintaining valuable contacts, you can not only expand your network, but also exchange valuable knowledge and explore new professional opportunities. Networking not only makes everyday working life easier, but also offers the opportunity for professional development and career growth.

Discover your career opportunities

Tailor-Made Programs for Your Career Growth

Do you want to take your career to the next level?  Our programs offer tailor-made solutions for all stages of your career. From selected Executive MBAs to versatile industry specializations to compact courses - we provide you with the support and know-how to achieve your professional goals.

You will also benefit from our extensive student and alumni networks, which provide valuable contacts, mentoring and exclusive access to high-quality career opportunities.

Job Change: Actively Shape Your Career

Whether it's career development, improved working conditions or the search for new challenges - there are many good reasons for switching jobs. However, one thing is clear: a job change is a significant step that requires a lot of courage, but is usually essential to open up new career perspectives.

Before you take such a step, you should first define your goals and motivations:

  • What do you expect from your next job?

  • What skills would you like to consolidate or develop?

  • In which working environment can you flourish to your full potential?

A thorough self-analysis will help you to find the right direction for your job switch.

From Application to the Interview

Once the strategic preparation in the form of a systematic analysis of expectations has been completed, the next step is implementation. From creating a professional CV to ensuring thorough prepping for job interviews, there are many aspects to consider.

Expert Tips: For Your Next Job Application

A successful application is the key to professional opportunities and the next step in your career. To help you make the leap in your career, we have some expert tips to help you with your next application:

Describe Your Skills Clearly and Concisely

Your application documents should be clear and well-structured. Use clear headings and bullet points to highlight your experience and qualifications. A well-structured CV makes it easier for recruiters to quickly grasp your most important information. Stick to a logical order, starting with your current or most recent positions and work yourself backwards through your career.

Emphasize Only Relevant Professional Experience

Make sure that your professional experience and achievements are related to the position you are applying for. In particular, emphasize projects and responsibilities that highlight your suitability for the new job. If you are applying for a management position, you should emphasize experiences that demonstrate your leadership skills. Tailor your CV to the specific requirements of the job advertisement and highlight relevant qualifications.

Quantify Previous Achievements in Your Career

Wherever possible, you should quantify your successes. Numbers and concrete results give potential employers a clear impression of your contribution and added value. Instead of just mentioning that you have successfully completed a project, you can give detailed results, such as increasing sales by X% or reducing costs by X%. These quantitative details make your achievements more tangible.

Job Interview: How to Impress a Potential Employer

The interview is your opportunity to make a strong first impression and confirm your suitability for a position. Researching the company you are applying to is the first step. Knowledge of the company values, current projects and the industry will show your interest.

Also think about how you can present your skills and experience in a compact way. Practice your self-presentation to ensure that you are able to communicate your strengths clearly. Also prepare some questions that you can ask at the end of the interview.

Also pay attention to your body language. A positive first impression is underlined by a confident posture, eye contact and open body language. A good performance in the interview can be crucial to getting the job you want and making a successful job change. Prepare well, remain authentic and show why you are the ideal candidate for the position.

Negotiating Salary: Tips for Your Professional Success

From newcomers to experienced managers - the question of appropriate pay plays a central role in every position and industry. As an expression of appreciation, salary is an indicator of professional satisfaction and motivation. Salary negotiations are therefore an important part of career planning, but require knowledge of market standards, negotiation techniques and the right arguments. Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions about salary that can support you in your personal development and professional career.

FAQ: Everything You Need to Know about Salary

1. What Factors Determine My Market Value?

Your market value is determined by several factors, including your professional experience, exceptional qualifications, industry knowledge and current conditions on the job market. Your skills, previous successes and professional trainings also play an important role. It is helpful to regularly compare salaries and check how your salary stacks up against other employees in a similar position or industry.

2. How Do I Figure Out if I'm Earning Too Little?

You should regularly check whether your salary is in line with the market. Use salary calculators and comparison portals to get an idea of typical salaries in your sector and position. Talk to colleagues or selected mentors about your salary to get a realistic impression. If you realize that your salary is below average, this may be an indicator that you are earning too little. This is a good argument for actively approaching your manager and asking for a salary increase.

3. How Do I Negotiate My Salary in a New Job?

Salary negotiations for a new job are not only crucial for your future financial situation, but also for your job satisfaction. Therefore, prepare thoroughly by researching your market value and formulating clear salary expectations. Use proven techniques (such as anchor points) to negotiate successfully and set clear boundaries for bargaining leeway before the negotiation. Also think about what you can do if your salary expectations cannot be realized.

4. What Does "BATNA" Mean and How Can It Help Me in Salary Negotiations?

BATNA stands for "Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement" and is a valuable negotiation concept. It means that you should always have an alternative up your sleeve in case your negotiation is unsuccessful. Especially in salary negotiations, BATNA gives you a strong feeling of security and power, as you know that you have a good alternative if your demands are not met.

5. What Rules Should You Follow in Salary Negotiations?

Salary negotiations follow unwritten rules that you should know in order to be successful. These include, for example, avoiding mentioning your salary first, the importance of non-verbal communication and understanding the interests of the other party. It is also important to make realistic and well-founded demands. You can use these and other suggestions to your advantage in your next salary negotiation!

6. What Do I Do If My Salary Increase Has Been Rejected?

If your salary increase has been rejected, it is important not to be discouraged. Analyze the reasons for the rejection and ask your manager for constructive feedback. Use this feedback to improve your performance and prepare for the next interview. At the same time, negotiate alternative benefits such as flexible working hours or further educational opportunities.

7. Can I Ask for a Pay Rise Even in Difficult Economic Times?

Yes, even in difficult times there are strategies to achieve a salary increase. Highlight your achievements and successes clearly and argue with your increasing responsibility and your contributions to the company's success. In tough times, be particularly flexible and open to alternative forms of remuneration such as bonuses or additional vacation days.

8. What Arguments Can You Use for a Salary Increase?

To be successful in a salary negotiation and ultimately achieve a salary increase, you should be well prepared and put forward strong arguments. Highlight your achievements and successes, emphasize continuing education and increasing responsibility. Also argue with market comparisons and the added value you create for the company. Interpersonal signals such as a confident demeanor and the ability to communicate your position clearly are also crucial.

9. Do End-Of-Year Talks Provide the Right Setting for the Annual Salary Increase?

Yes, end-of-year meetings are a good opportunity to negotiate your salary. Prepare well by documenting your achievements and successes throughout the year and justifying your salary demands well. Be prepared to present your arguments clearly and convincingly and respond to possible counterarguments. A year-end salary fact check will help you to be well prepared for the interview.

Failure: Opportunities for Personal Growth

It is inevitable that you will not only encounter success in your professional career, but also challenges and setbacks. Failures can be disheartening, but at the same time they offer valuable learning opportunities - even on the job. We explain why!

Let's say you are a manager in charge of a project that has not come to a positive conclusion due to technical difficulties or other problems. Instead of letting this "setback" put you off, you should analyze the causes of the failure and get feedback. This will allow you to develop new measures as quickly as possible to avoid similar problems in the future.

The ability to learn from mistakes and adapt is key. It enables you to develop new strategies, sharpen your skills and strengthen your resilience. After all, professional challenges can be diverse and require creative solutions. By actively facing challenges, you can drive your development.

Career Reflexion Chat

Feedback as the Key to Success: Recognizing Mistakes and Growing Constructively

Recognizing mistakes at an early stage is an essential step in avoiding conflicts in the long term. One effective way to do this is to obtain feedback. Open and constructive feedback from colleagues, executives and mentors helps you to identify blind spots and recognize opportunities for improvement. This change in perspective is essential for continuous improvement and long-term career success.

A positive culture of error is invaluable here. It fosters an environment in which mistakes are seen as part of the learning process and enables teams to learn from mistakes without fear of consequences. By openly discussing and analyzing mistakes, valuable insights can be gained and preventative measures can be developed to avoid similar problems in the future. Such a culture encourages employees to think innovatively and try out new solutions, which ultimately leads to greater job satisfaction and better results. Win-win for everyone involved!

Top 7: The Most Important Tips for More Success at Work

Professional success depends on numerous factors that interact and influence each other, of which the following seven factors are decisive:

1. Strengthen your self-confidence

Self-confidence is an indispensable element for professional success. It forms the foundation on which you can build your personal skills and pursue your goals. People with strong self-confidence tend to act more courageously, take risks and remain calm in difficult situations. This has a positive effect on work performance and promotes the willingness to accept and successfully master professional challenges.

2. Build a Strong Network

A well-established network is much more than a collection of contacts. It gives you access to valuable information, support during difficult phases and new career opportunities. Through regular exchanges with colleagues, mentors or industry experts, you can expand your knowledge, renew your perspectives, advance your career goals in a targeted manner or discover new professional challenges.

3. Rely on Time Management

Good time management is a key skill for successfully completing professional tasks and achieving personal goals at the same time. It involves setting priorities, avoiding time traps and customizing workflows. Clever time management not only gives you more time for strategic tasks, but also for your work-life balance.

4. Stay Flexible and Adaptable

Being flexible at work is essential, especially in times of BANI and VUCA. These concepts describe today's working world, in which changes can occur quickly and unpredictably. Flexibility therefore not only means adapting to new conditions, but also the ability to actively embrace change and use it as an opportunity for personal and professional growth. Employees who are agile are resilient in the face of unexpected challenges and contribute significantly to the long-term success of their team and their organization.

5. Expand Your Intercultural Competence

In a globalized economy, intercultural competencies and foreign language skills are crucial. They enable you to communicate effectively with international customers and colleagues and bridge cultural differences. This not only promotes the development of trusting relationships, but also opens up new perspectives for professional success and career opportunities.

6. Benefit from Coaching

Experienced mentors and coaches offer you personal support and professional guidance on your career path. They not only share their expertise and valuable experience, but also act as reliable advisors in challenging situations. With the help of your network, you can take a targeted approach to your career planning and open up new perspectives for professional success and personal satisfaction.

7. Create Your Own Definition of "Success"

A successful career is not the same as "higher, faster, further". Have you ever tried to define your own measures of success? Maybe you want a job that makes a real difference in the world or that emphasizes your personal values. But you may also want a job that gives you a lot of freedom or that taps into your passion for a particular subject

One thing is certain: stay true to yourself when choosing your career path. Choosing a job that impresses others but leaves you dissatisfied is not the way to go in the long run.

Women in Business

The career advancement of women is a complex and dynamic topic that is being discussed in many areas. Both personal strategies and structural changes play an important role. At the WU Executive Academy, we work with impressive women on a daily basis - not only in our Female Leaders Network.

We asked successful women both from our network and beyond for their tips on fair pay, work-life balance and female empowerment. Here is their valuable advice for your career!

1. Reconciling Family and Career

While careers and professional advancement used to be the sole preserve of men, new career opportunities are opening up for women as a result of digitalization, skills shortages and demographic change. Job sharing, even in management positions, alternative forms of work and models (keyword: "home office") mean that women no longer have to put their careers on hold in favor of their families. New Work opens up many opportunities for flexible working arrangements. For many women, however, reconciling work and family life is still one of the biggest challenges. Successful working mothers show that both are possible with good time management, clear priorities and a supportive environment.

How an MBA can empower women

Portrait Olena Khlon

Olena Khlon

  • Global Executive MBA Alumna | Board Member of the WU EA Female Leaders Network

Don't try to be perfect - neither at work nor as a mother. It won't work. You will lose a lot of energy and gain very little. Find people who support you - and find time to recharge your batteries and do something just for yourself that you enjoy. This will make you a good role model for your children in terms of self-care.

2. Visibility and Self-Marketing

One of the most important strategies for career growth is the so-called "visibility mindset". Women often "hide their light under a bushel". In most cases, this is a matter of false modesty, as it is particularly important in the competitive world of work to actively communicate successes, clearly state one's own goals and show presence. Self-marketing is an essential characteristic of managers who strive for more responsibility and can open closed doors.

Portrait Barbara Stöttinger

Barbara Stöttinger

  • Dean of the WU Executive Academy

Women's networks have helped me. They offer a good opportunity to get to know role models and to push each other. When women give each other positive affirmation and emphasize each other's strengths, it releases a very special energy.

3. Spotlight on Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap, i.e. the gap in income between men and women, is a persistent and widespread problem in many countries and sectors. According to Statistics Austria, the gender pay gap in Austria was 18.4% in 2022, well above the EU average of 12.7%. Despite the structural problems, which continue to be overpowering and often remain deeply rooted in the work culture, there are individual measures that women can take to strengthen their position and slowly close the pay gap, in addition to legal requirements (keyword: income transparency).

Portrait Martina Ernst

Martina Ernst

  • Global Executive MBA Alumna | Salary Expert

Women tend to sell themselves short and demand too little in salary negotiations. 70 percent of women still believe they will be rewarded for their extra effort and diligence by their superiors without having to ask for it. That won't happen, they have to take action themselves.

4. Female Empowerment Helps with Your Career

Strong mutual support amongst women can do wonders for your career. Networks and mentoring programs are critical to empowering women and helping them develop their full potential. This solidarity not only creates individual benefits, but also strengthens collective progress.

Portrait Anita Kirilova

Anita Kirilova

  • Global Executive MBA Alumna and co-founder of the Female Leaders Network

Change happens when women empower each other.  An example: As a woman, you can't do much in the company if, for example, a business trip is scheduled for December 20 and you would rather be with your family and preparing for Christmas. In a group of women in the company with this topic, you can assert yourself differently and change previously established - male - rules in the company.

5. Female Leadership: Women Shape Management Levels

Female leadership characterizes the decisive role of women in management positions and their influence on companies and organizations. Women in leadership positions often bring unique perspectives and skills that can contribute to innovative solutions and sustainable growth. However, despite ubiquitous efforts towards equality, women often face the invisible obstacle of the "glass ceiling" - a barrier that makes it difficult for them to access higher management levels.

Through targeted educational training, mentoring initiatives and creating a supportive work environment, companies can maximize the potential of female leaders while helping to promote gender equality in the workplace.

Portriat Elena Litvinova

Elena Litvinova

  • Global Executive MBA Alumna

Women need to free themselves from the perception that they themselves may have inherited from childhood - that certain jobs are not for women. In business, the best way to do this is by applying for management positions and highlighting yourself as a key factor in the company's success.

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