By Lyndsey Hall
Ever wondered why you’re not more successful? Do you watch your colleagues getting bigger and better projects and moving up the ranks, while you’re still sitting at the same desk you were given on your first day, 5 years ago? Don’t worry, we’re here to help.
If you dream of having a successful career, but the reality is a little different, try following these 7 steps to getting ahead at work:
- Do more.
If you get to work right on time every day, and leave as soon as the whistle blows, only doing “your job”, then it’s unlikely that you’ll be rewarded with a promotion or a big project when the opportunity comes around. To get noticed, you have to do more than just what is in your job description, you have to take initiative and show leadership skills. Stand out from the crowd by showing enthusiasm and ambition and you’re more likely to be the first person who comes to the boss’s mind when a position with more responsibility opens up.
- Show you want it.
Telling your boss and anyone who’ll listen that you’re ready to take on more, and then disappearing when the hard work needs to be done won’t help you get ahead. If you want to succeed you need to work harder than everyone else – that doesn’t mean working longer hours, it means getting more done. If you work faster than your colleagues, do something else: take on a side project or assist a manager with a big presentation coming up. Flexi time is all well and good, but research has proven that employers automatically see early birds as more conscientious. Show your boss that you want to be there and are keen to progress.
- Get a goodnight’s sleep. But not too good.
Sleeping between 6 and 8 hours a night is optimal: any more and you are wasting valuable time, any less and you may struggle to concentrate and be less productive at work. If you’re a night owl you could check your emails or work on that proposal for your boss before bed, if you’re an early riser why not go into the office early to get a head start? Getting the balance right is important, but if you’re looking to climb the ladder, putting in the extra effort will go a long way. Just make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
- Don’t spend too much time texting or tweeting.
Being seen by your colleagues and manager checking texts and social media at work is not the best way to get ahead. People are more likely to remember that they saw you check your phone ten times in one day, than the fact that you completed all your assignments and even helped the new girl set up her office email, no matter how much you tweet about it. Save it for your lunch hour and definitely avoid any NSFWs!
- Ask for feedback. And listen to it!
Want to know why you were overlooked for that big project, or missed out on the position that would have been perfect for you? Ask! Find out what your boss is looking for and what you need to accomplish to be considered for the next level: you never know, you might already be doing it and just not showing it! Equally, if there’s something you are doing that your boss would prefer that you weren’t, take the constructive criticism and learn from it. Adapt your work style to suit your employer and you’re almost guaranteed to be noticed and remembered.
- Network with the right people.
Doing everything you should be? Maybe it’s not what you know, but who. You could be the hardest working, most efficient and well-liked employee, but if the promotion decision makers haven’t heard of you, it’s very unlikely you’ll progress. Find out who you need to impress and think about how you can get your name in front of them, in a positive light, of course. Chances are you got the job in the first place because your employer could see that you had the skills and intelligence to do the job, so network with the right people and show them that you’re ready to take the next step.
- Get out while the getting is good!
According to employers, when considering potential new recruits, 4 years is the optimum length you should stay with a company, without a change of job role or promotion. Any more than 6 years and it becomes a negative mark on your CV, as what was previously considered loyalty and reliability starts to resemble stagnation and a lack of ambition. If there is nowhere else for you to go within your current employment, consider moving on and finding a new job with another company, as even a sideways move will show a desire to progress and succeed.