The secret to getting ahead in your career

The secret to getting ahead in your career

What’s the secret to climbing the corporate ladder?

You want your career to move forward, right? You don’t want to stay where you are forever—you’d get bored and restless at some point, even if you love your job right now. You don’t want to end up like those people who are stuck in the same position for years, bitter and resentful of others who have been promoted.

But getting to that next level doesn’t just happen. You have to take time to learn, grow, adapt and change. You have to invest in yourself.

How to Invest in Yourself

Investing in yourself means taking time to learn skills, principles, programs and other strategies that could set you apart from fellow employees. It means taking steps to become a more profitable and valuable team member. Investing in yourself isn’t hard. It just takes commitment and time. Here’s how to do it:

Flipping through book

Keep learning.

Show me a person who doesn’t want to learn new things, and I’ll show you a person who will get left behind. You have to keep learning if you want to stay relevant. It’s not an option. In the technology arena alone, you need to stay up to date if you hope to build your résumé and move up the corporate ladder.

That ever-changing technology can be your best friend when it comes to learning. You can plug into webinars, online books, research materials and online forums any time, day or night, and make the most of your time. In the past, getting training meant travel and time out of the office, which created barriers for people. Now, the only barrier is your own willingness to learn.

You may also want to consider finishing that degree—or even getting an additional one. College isn’t just for high school graduates anymore. Schools across the country offer fast-track bachelor’s and master’s degrees that take into account the professional’s schedule and experience. Even earning some certifications can set you apart from your coworkers.

Employees working on laptop and charts

Understand other arenas.

As professionals, it’s easy to get tunnel vision—to focus only on your piece of the business pie and ignore everything else. It’s important to be an expert in your field, but it’s also important to understand other areas that impact your work. Not only does it increase your skills, but it also makes you a well-rounded team member.

Take time to shadow someone in your company. Sit in on marketing meetings. Listen to a salesperson make calls. Invite your IT guru to lunch and ask questions that you’ve been too embarrassed to ask in meetings. (What’s a cache? What’s the cloud? What’s a domain? What’s the difference between viruses, Trojans and malware?) You can even take online classes and watch free training videos. Don’t be afraid to be curious!

Stretch yourself.

It’s easy to find your comfort zone. And it’s easy to stay there. That’s why it’s comfortable! But getting too comfortable leads to stagnation. Just like you have to push yourself for greater results in the gym, you need to push yourself in the workplace. You need to flex those business muscles. Ask to be put on new projects, even if you don’t know a lot about the end product. Volunteer to help colleagues and coworkers or to lead work groups. Speak up in meetings. Offer suggestions. Take chances.

Get a coach.

If you’ve been in business a while and feel stuck, you might want to get a career or life coach. Think about professional athletes who have personal coaches to help train, encourage, teach and support them. A life coach or career coach works in much the same way in lots of arenas—leadership, management, start-up, professional life and executives.

A career coach can help you evaluate where you are professionally, where you would like to be, and what barriers you are facing. They can also help with specific issues related to your work, such as resolving conflict, getting promoted, balancing professional and personal life, setting and reaching goals, and breaking through the glass ceiling.

Adjusting microphone

Develop speaking skills.

Whether you’re an administrative assistant or an executive on the rise, the way you present yourself to others can make a big difference in your career success. Being able to speak to a group builds your self-confidence, highlights your experiences and expertise, and gives you visibility. This can set you apart in the workplace.

When you invest in yourself, you’re not only improving yourself; you’re also improving your team. You’re putting yourself in a better position for promotions and raises. Nobody else is responsible for making you get out of your comfort zone, take new classes or learn new skills. It’s up to you. You have to be the one to take the initiative. Your professional development is in your hands—so get started today!

How are you making efforts to get ahead in your career? Share in the comments below!