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Your next job is a big step in your career growth — and can potentially be your next two to three jobs. This is something you should be thinking of when you’re interviewing for new roles.

How to Identify a Career-Focused Organization

Interviews are a two-way street. Interviewers appreciate candidates who come in with smart questions. Here are a few you can ask if career growth is important to you:

  • Does {company} have a history of promoting from within? For this role specifically?
  • How do managers at {company} identify talented team members, and what do they do to help grow and promote them?
  • What does the career path look like within this company for this role?
  • Do you have a formal review process in place and, if so, what does that look like?
  • What resources does {company} offer for people looking to grow their careers?

Look for opportunities at companies that invest in the growth of their team members as evidenced by:

  • History of promotions
  • Strong managers
  • Clear career pathways
  • Continuing education support

Interview with Lauren Yee: Designing an Organization for Professional Growth

The People Team at Rainforest has developed a number of ways to help team members identify career growth opportunities and create paths toward achieving them. I interviewed Lauren Yee, of our People Team, to find out more about what is important to our team members when they think about career growth, about some of the programs the People Team has put into place, and about the advice Lauren would share for anyone looking for a position they can grow in.

Sarah: What is your role at Rainforest, how long have you been at the company, and what were you doing prior?

Lauren: I joined Rainforest in September 2017 and I work on the People and Talent team in a hybrid role where I support the talent team with recruiting and the people team with new hire onboarding. Other types of projects that I focus on include running our performance management system and learning management system. Prior to this I was in recruiting for a digital health startup.

Sarah: What is one of the most important things you did to build your own career?

Lauren: I spent a lot of time networking, meeting with people, discussing their backgrounds and learning how they landed in the role that they’re in. I asked lots of questions! You’d be surprised at how many people are willing to help in different ways. I also thought deeply about my work passions, strengths and weaknesses. Another thing I did was complete some personality test and career tests for my own personal development.

Sarah: What are the most important things a company can do to help promote internal career growth?

Lauren: The most important things a company can do to help promote internal career growth is to get ahead of it. This is something Rainforest excels in. We have a career pathways document that maps out the skills and competencies needed from an intern to the executive level for each department at Rainforest. It is an extremely comprehensive guide that is available for all Rainforesters. It really shows people in the company that we seriously care about career growth and development. The fact that we have several Rainforesters that have been promoted in their department or switched departments is so exciting to see, whether you’re a new Rainforester or a longer-tenured Rainforester.

The most important things a company can do to help promote internal career growth is to get ahead of it.

Another thing a company can do is host ongoing manager training for current and new managers. If you’re a manager and you know your direct report excels in a certain area, help them build out a path to get to that next level. If it’s new to you, work with the someone from the people team that can guide you in this process. As a manager, you can also provide new projects for your direct report to work on and that experience would help them get to the next level.

Sarah: What are three things Rainforest specifically does to promote internal career growth? Can you give an example or two of where you’ve seen specific value come from what we offer?

Lauren: We announce how to get a promotions in company-wide promotion emails. This encourages people to speak up if they might be thinking about promotions or switching to another team, but not saying anything to their manager.

During performance 360s, feedback is shared with the Rainforester including the things an individual excels in and areas of focus.

Another example is the career pathways document. I’ve referenced this several times to Rainforesters and mention it as a resource on skills and competencies needed to get to the next level. This really shows the team members that you value their growth and have pathways mapped from intern to executive level for each department, and pathways for individual contributors and managers. It’s awesome!

Rainforest also creates a culture of continuous learning with monthly sessions hosted by our VP of People and Udemy for Business which allows everyone to take any course that they are interested in, whether it’s a coding course, management course, or soft skills course.

Sarah: What general (not Rainforest-specific) advice would you give to people looking to grow their careers?

Lauren: If you are looking to grow your career, do some research on the role and field that you want to pursue, potential companies, the people that are there, and why the company is great. If they offer benefits like career development and learning opportunities, that’s a great sign that they care about ongoing growth as we do at Rainforest.

If you know someone at a company or someone has a mutual connection to a company that you want to join, reach out to them on LinkedIn or other ways. You’d be surprised! People are willing to help.

I would also recommend speaking to people in fields you want to get into. Ask them about the pros and cons, how they got into that field, and what they love and dislike about it. If you know someone at a company or someone has a mutual connection to a company that you want to join, reach out to them on LinkedIn or other ways. You’d be surprised! People are willing to help.

Each time we contemplate a career move we have an opportunity to learn and grow! Taking the time to understand what your next company can do to support your career can lead to faster growth and a more solid foundation.

Sarah Arcoleo is a Talent Partner at Rainforest QA. She previously held Sales and General Operations roles at Rainforest QA and other Bay Area startups.