How to advance your career

Moving your career onwards and upwards
© alashi | iStockphoto

Do you feel like you've hit a bit of a wall in your career and want to advance but don't know how? Here are some tried and tested tips to get you on your way.

Identify your goals

Unless you know where you want to go, you won’t get there. It’s up to you to take ownership of your career, so figure out what you want, then be proactive and go after it. Let’s face it – no one else is going to do it for you. 

Make your goals known

Managers are not mind readers, so don’t assume your boss or anyone else in your organisation knows what your goals are. If you don’t make it known they are most likely going to presume you are happy with the status quo. Let your boss know what you are aiming to achieve, ask for his or her support and seek advice on areas for skill development. 

Know your company 

Do you really know what your company’s goals are – strategically, financially and culturally? If you don’t know the answer, then you need to find out. What are their core values? What types of people get promoted? 

Seize opportunities

Wishing things will happen isn’t enough. It’s time to start doing! Make a list of practical things you can do – join an association, do a course, take on a leadership role in a team, present at a conference, go to industry seminars. Remember, it is the small steps along the way that will propel you in the right direction. 


Build relationships with other people in the organisation. It is important to network across all levels of the company so seek out opportunities to meet new people. It all comes down to increasing your visibility and connecting with the decision-makers. Make sure you participate in company gatherings and social events such as team building activities or casual drinks after work.

Create a positive image

Remember: do unto others as you would want done to you. That means be nice, keep a smile on your face and at all times, be friendly and approachable. The more positive you are, the more likeable you are. Avoid entering into negative conversations about others, or the organisation – the walls do have ears! 

Establish your presence

You want people to see that you are competent and that you have potential. Before you attend meetings, review agenda items and prepare a few questions – don’t just speak for the sake of it, but be sure to share your ideas when you have value to add. Visibility is the key to advancement and you want to make sure you are the first person management thinks of when it comes to promotion time.

Find a mentor 

A mentor can help you to focus and can be a great source of ideas for your professional development and growth. Is there someone in the organisation you could approach to be your mentor? Is there an existing mentor program within the company? Look for people to connect with who have been or are in the position you are aiming for.

Remember, ‘nothing worth having comes easy’, so your best chance for success is to be proactive and take ownership of your career.

One of the best ways to advance your career is to expand your skill set. See our range of online courses to help you upskill. 

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