6 Smart Ways to Get Ahead in Your Career


There are a lot of ways to advance your career that are not at all obvious until you see them work.

They are things that are often learned by watching your peers advance around you.  Or, when looking back at your own career, you realize they are what worked for you.

  1. Don’t criticize your boss, especially not in front of others.

It is a very rare leader who can take feedback and disagreement from a subordinate and be thankful for it.  If you disagree with your boss, before you tell say anything, think about how your boss will react; and if you still want to give him/her feedback, do it as carefully as you can.  Perhaps you could present it (frame it) as “another idea” or an enhancement to the boss’s idea, not as a critique of the his/her idea.  Sometimes supporting your boss’ decision is better than voicing disagreement.

2. Make your hours match the hours of important influencers.

Even if you work more hours, if you are not there when key decisions are being made, or assignments are being handed out, you may find yourself missing out on opportunities to shine.

3. Figure out if people prefer email vs. scheduled meetings vs. the “drop-in”.

Some of your superiors like email, others prefer impromptu meetings, and others want you to book a spot on their calendar.  You probably have your own preference.  But forget your preference.  Even if you think email is more efficient, put yourself in their head if you want to get ahead.

4. Never complain that you have too much work.

It may feel like you have too much to do.  But complaining never helps.  Work more hours, find a peer to help you, be clever about how you get things done.  Asking if a deadline is a “hard” date is better than complaining that you have too much to do.

5. Come up with something new.

No matter what your role is, coming up with a great idea is often the ticket to success.  Don’t pitch bad ideas in the hopes that someone likes them.  Pitch ideas you feel great about, and even then, anticipate the reaction when deciding who to pitch it to and when.

6. Be the expert at something.

Find a skill or critical knowledge (e.g. a process, or a software application used at your company) and dig into the details.  Learn it thoroughly, so that you will be the one counted on whenever it needs to be upgraded, discussed, or used differently.  If your boss counts on you for 1 thing, they will probably realize they can count on you for other things as well.