LinkedIn updates are an abyss, but I can’t stop scrolling.
Recently, I saw a bunch of former coworkers moving on to new roles, new jobs, and new companies. People I had once worked with are now VPs or senior directors. I love seeing old friends take risks with new opportunities — it’s inspiring to see their growth. But I’ll admit it: this prompted a bit of a reflective moment on my own growth.
My job title has been Team Lead since 2015. I had to ask myself, why haven’t I grown?
It’s a painful question. But it led me to a revelation that has nothing to do with job titles: growth is as much about others as it is about you.
Growing toward company goals
Before you grow, you have to know what your company is trying to grow toward. It starts at the top. At Zapier, where I work, our mission is to democratize automation. We’re flying a rocket to a planet called “help everyone automate.” If I don’t want to go on that mission, I’m definitely not going to be in that rocket.
If you want to grow, make sure the things you do are going to help your company on its mission. Say no to the work that doesn’t get that rocket flying in the right direction. Say yes to the work that does. With good leadership, the things you do every day should roll up into the mission.
To grow, you need to have opportunities. And to have opportunities, you need to make connections.
While making small talk at work is a great way to meet people, the best way to create opportunities is to share your work. One of the easiest ways to do this is to write about what you and your immediate team do. Keep people in the loop about the great work you’re doing and how it contributes to the company mission.
At Zapier, we use an internal blog for this. If your team has something similar, take advantage of it. If not, you can shout out your work in Slack, at all-hands meetings, or however else your company communicates.
It’s a great way to show off your work, and you never know who will read what you write and think, hey, I have a project I think we could work on together. There are opportunities out there, and sharing your work is a great way to find them.
Investing your time
Growth takes time. And if you’re anything like me, you don’t enjoy long-suffering (also known as waiting). Here’s the good news: as long as you’re at a company that values growth, growth doesn’t just mean sitting around, waiting for the calendar to reach a specific day, month, or year.
Instead, you “wait” on opportunities like new roles, new projects, and new promotions by actively investing in what you already have on your plate. Consistency comes before opportunity, and the more you work toward that company mission, the more you’ll grow alongside your team.
Plus, along the way, you’ll develop skills and build relationships that will help you grow long past your tenure at your current company.
Growth is about more than titles
There are many legitimate reasons for leaving a job: things like misaligned values or poor managers. But if personal growth is what’s causing you to look elsewhere, first take a closer look at the company you’re at. Are they growing? If so, opportunities may be right around the corner, and it’s up to you (and hopefully an empathetic manager) to find them.
Even if your job title doesn’t change as quickly as you’d like, you can still grow. I’ve been at Zapier for two and a half years now. I still have the same title, sure, but my team has given me opportunities to lead new projects, like experimenting with paid phone support, facilitating important meetings, moderating our first customer conference, and promoting many of my direct reports.
I’ve grown so much — my job title will follow when the time is right.
Now when I look at LinkedIn, my own job title doesn’t mean quite as much. What matters most is the team I work with and the company I work for.