By Caroline Levchuck, Yahoo! HotJobs
Sometimes you have to leave your current job to ascend the corporate ladder -- but not always, especially if you try a creative approach.
"You don't have to change your job to achieve your career goals," says Cynthia McCauley, author of Developmental Assignments: Creating Learning Experiences Without Changing Jobs. "Taking on new assignments in your current job or outside your job can expand your leadership knowledge and skills -- and your marketability."
McCauley says you should look for developmental assignments, which she describes as "roles and activities that provide opportunities for you to stretch and grow as a leader," to advance. Use her three tips to identify developmental assignments in your personal and professional lives that will help you get ahead.
Add New Dimensions to Your Current Position
Think outside your formal job description when seeking out new challenges. The first place to start may be helping your coworkers jettison unpleasant tasks from their plates.
"Consider moving a responsibility from someone else's plate to your own, trading tasks with another, or taking on a role or task that needs to be done but that no one currently 'owns,'" McCauley says. "In this way, you can expand your repertoire of skills and responsibilities while also helping out your colleagues."
Use Short-Term Assignments to Fuel Long-Term Growth
The best way to ensure that you follow through on new tasks and responsibilities and vary your experiences is with short-term or temporary projects. One-offs allow you to learn while also giving you the freedom to pursue other opportunities as soon as each assignment is completed. This strategy will give you a more immediate sense of accomplishment. You'll learn whether you enjoy the work as well as improve your professional record for seeing things to fruition.
Pursue Opportunities Outside the Office
Sometimes you have to think outside the box -- and the office. "You'll find plenty of leadership responsibilities in nonprofit, religious, social and professional organizations, schools, sport teams, and family life," McCauley explains.
In other words, opportunity is probably knocking at your door right this moment. You may find that stepping up outside the office is easier, as there is less competition. Also, your efforts will be visibly appreciated, particularly if you're leading in a volunteer or nonprofit capacity.
Continue to actively look for places to expand your skill set on and off the clock. "Challenging, real-life experiences are rich sources of growth and learning, but you don't have to wait for opportunities to present themselves," McCauley says,