How to Get and Stay Ahead in Your Career

Find out how can you take charge of your career and ensure that you attain consistent career progression to stay ahead at work.

man in suit walking on street

Most people approach their first day at a new job with a high degree of enthusiasm and a great desire to learn. Unfortunately, in many instances, this zeal and energy do not last long. Gradually, new employees slip into a certain routine and find themselves bored with the tasks that are assigned to them. They experience a sense of dissatisfaction and are often unable to concentrate on their work. An unhappy employee will perform poorly and can even undermine the entire team’s productivity. The company’s managers will be quick to spot such behaviour, which often implies that the employee will usually experience low career growth and could miss out on salary increases and promotions.

How can you take charge of your career and ensure that you are continually adding to your knowledge and to your level of expertise? Here are some points that you can keep in mind.

1. Spend time learning about your profession

work career self employed sme office getty
Source: Getty

Of course, it is important to work for an organisation that will help you to further your career goals, but your education does not end when you leave school or even university. It is essential to keep up with new developments in your area of work. However, a full-time job can severely restrict the number of hours available to you for staying updated about your chosen profession.

But, there are no shortcuts or free lunches in life. You will simply have to find the time to devote to practising the skills that you already have and to learning about new areas connected with your work.

How can you do this? There are a number of online courses that you can take. You can also read books on subjects related to your job: reading biographies of successful people in different fields is often the most effective way to grow. Another one of the best techniques to establishing yourself in your profession is to attend conferences and make connections with people who work in the same field.

2. Step back and reflect upon your work

At times, your job can get overwhelming. Your to-do list gets longer every day and most of your working hours seem to be spent tackling one crisis after another. While it is essential that you meet your obligations at work, it is equally important to set aside 10 or 15 minutes every day for quiet reflection.

During this time, you need to think about how you are spending your day and whether you are making progress in achieving your short-term and long-term goals.

  1. Are you on track to complete the most important assignments that have been allocated to you?
  2. Do you spend a great deal of time on non-productive work? You can’t avoid replying to emails and answering phone calls, but this should not prevent you from completing your essential tasks.
  3. What have you done today or this week that will further your long-term career goals?

Just 10 minutes a day spent in reviewing your work and thinking about what you need to do can provide a great boost to your career.

3. Manage your boss

Your relationship with your manager plays a large part in your success at work. With a little effort, it is quite possible to keep your boss happy and enhance your career prospects at the same time.

What are the steps that you can take to ensure that your boss holds a high opinion about you? Firstly, you should be absolutely dependable. Once a task is allotted to you, it is your job to deliver the required result within the stipulated time limit. In the event, that you are unable to complete the work, it is absolutely essential to inform your manager well before the deadline so that alternate arrangements can be made. Remember that bosses do not like unpleasant surprises.

It is also useful to keep in mind that managers do not like workers who complain constantly. If you are facing a problem, approach the boss with a suggested solution instead of simply stating your grievance.

If your job requires you to attend meetings where your manager is also present, you should be prepared with information on every possible topic that could come up. A lack of knowledge on your part not only reflects poorly on your capabilities, it also shows your boss in a poor light.

4. Develop your people skills

business meeting
Source: Unsplash

It is very difficult to make progress in your career unless you know how to get along with your colleagues at the office. Many workers have excellent technical capabilities and a high degree of knowledge in their area of specialisation, but they lose out as they come across as arrogant or unhelpful.

If you fall into this category, it is worth your time and effort to learn the skills that are required to gain influence at your place of work and to be regarded as a friendly and approachable person.

Don’t lose focus

In an article titled Build a Career Worth Having that appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Nathaniel Koloc points out that employees should see their careers as a series of stepping stones. Rather than getting bogged down in an unsatisfactory job, employees should seek to constantly enhance their skills and expertise so that they add value to every new assignment and role that they take up.


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