Family & Education

How to Get Ahead at Work

Very few career paths flow in a straight line. Embrace the curves, and stay open to new opportunities
BY Bill Lindsey TIMEJanuary 28, 2022 PRINT

The journey begins the moment you start your first job. How smoothly and quickly it progresses is subject to many factors, several of which are within your control. Helping others can play a large role in your own success.

Choose Your Goals

In every workplace, there are those who are content to show up and hope that 5 p.m. arrives soon. There are also those who set career advancement goals and develop a plan to accomplish them. Honestly assess the potential for advancement in your current position. If it exists, develop a plan to rise to the next level. However, if you don’t see any chance to move up, start working on moving on to a job that allows for growth.

Be Indispensable

Completing every task correctly, completely, and on time is the bare minimum performance level for any job. Being able to assist with additional tasks without negatively affecting your primary responsibilities can lead to career advancement opportunities. Be professional and focused in order to avoid coming across as fawning or obsequious to your boss or co-workers. The goal is to be recognized as an asset who can be relied upon to get the job done as part of a team.

Continue to Learn

Regardless of what you do, from waiting tables to running a department, there are opportunities to expand your skill set or prepare for a new career. You can attend in-person or online classes at colleges or classes that are offered by industry-specific organizations such as realtors, nurses, accountants, chefs, and pretty much any other position. It sounds outdated, but reading is another time-honored way to obtain knowledge. The internet also offers many ways to learn, including related articles, tutorials, seminars, and YouTube videos.

Be a Contributing Member of a Network

Networking can lead to unexpected opportunities. Attend live and online networking events and create your own informal network of current and former co-workers, friends, and neighbors. These work by members sharing information, being in the right place, and knowing the right person to discover new opportunities. It’s important that you actively share ideas and suggestions with other members: If your focus is only “help me find a job,” you’ll be tuned out by the others.

Ask for More Responsibilities

Let your boss know that you’re ready to take on more duties. However, before asking for additional responsibilities, make 100 percent certain that you’re completing your current tasks, using a to-do list to finish every assignment on time or sooner. It’s OK to tell your boss no if you feel you aren’t quite ready to take on the new task and explain to them why that’s the case. Failing at the new task and neglecting your primary duties can be tough to overcome.

Bill Lindsey
Bill Lindsey is an award-winning writer based in South Florida. He covers real estate, automobiles, timepieces, boats, and travel topics.
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