Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling

Most professionals, at some point, will find themselves in an organization that for whatever reason limits their ability to  reach another rung up the corporate ladder.  Perhaps this is because the only position step-up would be your boss’ role, and he/she is not going anywhere anytime soon.  Perhaps you work at a company that rewards seniority over performance or lives and dies by interoffice politics.  Of course, it could also be that it is no one’s fault, you have simply outgrown the company. But one thing is for certain, if you stay there you are going to be confined by that glass ceiling.  So get moving because this is something we as professionals can avoid!

Inform your boss or bosses of your goals down the road.  During these conversations, it’s important to inquire about what it will take for you to get where you want to be at your current company.  Use this information as a business plan to your next career goal.

Be proactive rather than reactive.  Most employees who get the promotions stand out amongst their peers.  They are routinely going above and beyond what their boss asks of them.

Lead by example.  Authority and responsibility go hand in hand and when you are promoted, you naturally are responsible for more.  Take responsibility before it’s given to you and your authority will follow.

Leave your ego at home and keep it strictly business.  It’s inevitable that we will work with someone we don’t get along with.  They could be a boss, co-worker, or a subordinate, but in each case that person might be the one vote you need to move up the ladder.  Keep your personal feelings out of business and stay focused on your goals.

What can you do if you have already hit the Glass Ceiling?

Looking for another position is a full-time job in itself.  You could begin by updating your resume, searching job boards, and applying on websites.  Your most productive effort would be tapping into your network for referrals but then you run the risk of your current employer finding out.  Besides, you already have a job and don’t have the time or energy to put the hours in to get another one.

A reputable staffing firm is the most effective way for you to break through that glass ceiling.  The right firm can communicate with a potential employer directly on your behalf without causing any issues with your current situation.  The relationship the firm already has with a hiring manager can be invaluable in communicating your assets in a way a resume never could.  When deciding on a staffing firm to work with, especially in a situation that requires such discretion as searching for a new position while currently employed, be sure to ask these questions.

Do they have the right contacts?  If they give you specific names most likely they are breaking some sort of non-disclosure agreement.  A great firm will have personal relationships with high-level managers in major organizations.  You’ll want to know what industry their contacts are in and be sure they match up with your career goals.

Who are they working for?  Is the firm using you to fill a requirement for one of their clients OR are they committed to finding your next career move.  It already takes a lot of effort to find and get hired at a new position, add this to a full time job and it’s nearly impossible.  You are serious about finding a new position and you need your firm to be serious about it too.

Do they have referrals or testimonials?  All great firms rack up thank you letters, testimonials, and recommendations.  Ask for these.

Are they charging you?  A great firm will already have a fee agreement in place with prospective companies.  In no instance should you be paying a fee to a firm.

The Glass Ceiling can seem unavoidable, and honestly sometimes it is.  Your best option is to locate a seasoned professional with an excellent track record to move you around this obstacle.


Brandon Jackson is the owner and operator of Gateway Essentials, a Premiere Staffing Firm in the Washington, D.C. area.  To break through your glass ceiling, click here so we can help you make your next great career decision.