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14 Signs Of People Who Advance Rapidly In Their Careers

14 Signs Of People Who Advance Rapidly In Their Careers

Have you ever wondered why some people advance rapidly in their careers and others don’t? Would you like to climb the ladder of success but don’t know how? Here are 14 traits of people who achieve great things by working strategically that can help catapult your career, too.

1. They Have a Clear Vision

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Successful people have a clear vision of what they want to do and don’t waver from it. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner not only aspired to reach the top of his profession but also to empower the workplace by managing compassionately. Jack Canfield, co-author of the mega-successful Chicken Soup for the Soul series, set his intention to “inspire and empower people to live to their highest vision in a context of love and joy” BEFORE writing his first book.

These sorts of personal mission statements enable professionals to go far in their chosen areas. What about you? Take the first step towards advancing your career by creating a clear vision statement of what you want to achieve in your field. Do you want to be a manager and leader? Say so!

2. They Aim High

“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” ~ Steve Martin

Those who rise rapidly up the ranks strive for excellence. They have a strong determination to succeed, constantly seek to improve themselves, and do outstanding work. To add ambition to your career plan, act as though you’ve already accomplished what you wrote down for your vision statement and take it up a notch. Describe what the next level would look like for you, and make THAT your vision statement. Don’t settle for less than what you really want.

3. They Believe in Themselves

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t you’re right.” ~ Henry Ford

People who get ahead in their careers express confidence in themselves and their work. They’re not arrogant or boastful (signs of low self-esteem). They’re simply certain of what they’re doing. When they don’t have the answers they openly admit it. They seek out the information they need and trust themselves to make good decisions.

The next time you’re worried about giving a presentation at work, take a moment to jot down 10 things you’ve accomplished in your life that you’re proud of and let that sense of certainty wash over you. Afterwards assess what worked and pat yourself on the back for it. Then determine what needs improvement and make revisions so that your next talk is even better.

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4. They Take the Initiative

“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.” ~ Wolfgang von Goethe

Rather than waiting for something to happen, those who advance rapidly in their careers take the initiative. For example, if the boss is on vacation and the company runs out of materials, they’re the ones who order more and suggest putting a new procurement procedure in place. They make opportunities for themselves and ask for the positions and salary they want.

To advance your career, be pro-active. Use your vision statement to generate goals for yourself, your department, and your company. Get specific about when, where, and how you’ll achieve them by breaking them down into sub-goals. Do the easiest one first to start gaining momentum.

5. They Stay Focused

“I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday.” ~  Jose N. Harris

In today’s world of information overload, we need to stay focused to succeed. Those who are promoted quickly keep their eye on the ball no matter what happens around them. When work gets chaotic, projects collapse, and funds run low, they actively search for pockets of time to accomplish their goals anyway. They are disciplined, do things step by step, and finish what they start.

To stay focused on what’s important, make it a practice to record your goals for each week the weekend before. Then review them each morning before you start your day and tackle the hardest thing first. That way you’ll ensure you keep making progress during uncertain times.

6. They Use Failure as Feedback

“Failure gives you a chance to refine your approach. You’re taking risks more and more intelligently.” ~ Pete Athans (climbed Mt. Everest 7 times)

No one likes to fail  But when things don’t go as planned, people who succeed in their careers take responsibility. They don’t blame others or beat themselves up. Instead they reflect on what limiting thoughts or destructive habits could have led to the undesirable outcome. They understand that setbacks are natural, learn from their “mistakes,” and use the negative experience to improve their performance in the future.

The next time you fail, rather than getting upset and feeling like a victim, calmly ask yourself “What do I need to do differently next time to get the result I want?” View it as an opportunity to grow, course correct, and move forward using the information you gleaned from objectively studying the situation.

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7. They Crave Criticism

“He who wants a rose must respect the thorn.” ~ Persian proverb

Sir Richard Branson purposefully embeds “mavericks” into every Virgin company to ensure its success because he knows that yes men kill innovation. Those who succeed quickly in their fields ask for feedback, learn from it, and use it to refine their approach.

If someone criticizes you in the workplace, take a deep breath and determine whether the naysayer has a point. Consider the source. If you trust the person and the feedback resonates, integrate it into the way you do things and do better next time.  (Yes, I know this one is tough.)

8. They Change with the Times

“The things we fear most in organizations – fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances – are the primary sources of creativity.” ~  Margaret J. Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science

The world is changing at a rapid pace. Those who move ahead promptly in their careers don’t hold tightly to the status quo. They are open and flexible and seize opportunities the moment they present themselves. They are flexible with the changing demands of the business, generate new ideas, and suggest ways to integrate innovation into business strategies.

To climb the ladder of success, make it a priority to keep up with what’s happening your area of expertise and related fields. Invite smart people out to lunch, take classes, and read. Update your skills to stay cutting-edge and constantly alter your goals to keep current.

9. They Follow Their Passions

“If you don’t love something, you’re not going to go the extra mile, work the extra weekend, challenge the status quo as much.”  ~  Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs passionately studied calligraphy and his aesthetic sense still distinguishes Apple products today. Those who reach the top of their fields follow what has heart and meaning in their lives. They choose to work for companies that share their values or they work for themselves. Business based on hobbies are more likely to turn a profit because these entrepreneurs persevere during tough times, even if  they don’t make money initially, because they love what they do.

If you’re in a job that doesn’t bring out the best in you, do something else. Find companies that align with your vision statement. Or if the entrepreneurial lifestyle appeals to you, ask yourself how you can you turn your passion into a business you love.

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10. They Have A Good Sense of Timing

“You don’t have to swing hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing, it’ll go.” ~ Yogi Berra

According to Bill Gross’s recent TED talk, the number one factor that accounts for why start ups succeed is that their product came out at the right time. Those who soar in their fields have a good sense of timing.

To move ahead at work, keep abreast of what’s happening in your workplace and the world at large. Watch for changing trends and get a sense for when the time is right to release a new product or seek a promotion.

11. They Surround Themselves with Winners

“Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can’t miss.” ~  Lee Iacocca

Bill Gross found that the second most important factor that allowed startups to succeed was that they were based on strong teams. Those who excel in their industries know they can’t achieve their vision alone. They surround themselves with great teams and find powerful mentors to guide them.

To succeed in your career, carefully choose who you spend time with. Success rubs off. So does failure. Don’t get sidetracked by people who aren’t on track. Surround yourself with positive successful people both inside and outside of work.

12. They Stay Consistent

“In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.” ~ Tony Robbins

Those who rise to the top put consistent energy into their personal and professional lives rather than expending marathon energy. They achieve goals step by step and stay in constant contact with their staff, colleagues, and customers. They take breaks from heavy work schedules to maintain balance and ensure that they don’t run out of energy.

To avoid burnout and attain more consistency in your work, turn your goals into action items with due dates and space them out on your calendar so that they are achievable. Make sure to focus on your top one or two priorities. Tick off each goal as you reach it. That way you’ll be much less likely to lose touch with an important client or drop the ball on a game-changing plan.

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13. They Persevere

“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” ~  Steve Jobs

Success is not a straight line path to the top, but encompasses many troughs and valleys. Steve Jobs was fired from his own company (Apple), then founded NeXT and Pixar, and in the end returned to Apple. By the time she won Bammy’s Best NEW Artist Award, Gwen Stefanie had been singing with No Doubt for 10 years. Thomas Edison was fired from several jobs but kept his true passion for inventing and eventually obtained 1,093 patents. People who flourish in their careers keep the long game in mind.

When the path gets bumpy and you find yourself starting to give up, try a different method, route, or alternative to get what you want. Remember you always have options, and that you’re in good company if it’s taking longer than you thought to get where you want to go.

14. They Know When to Stop

“I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered to be successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.” ~  Zig Ziglar

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, people who succeed don’t work hard all the time. They take breaks when they experience diminishing returns, and have closing rituals to end their day. They organize their files, straighten their desks, and make a list of what to do tomorrow.

To succeed in your career, leave work at work and enjoy your hobbies, family, and friends during your time off. You’ll make room for breakthroughs and come back refreshed.

The good news is you don’t have to prioritize career advancement over everything else in your life to succeed in your profession. Work smart instead. You’ll get to the top fastest if you make a commitment to learn and hone these 14 skills of people who advance rapidly in their vocations. They’re not just reserved for career rock stars; you can master them, too. Why not start today?

Featured photo credit: Roger Stewart via blink.hdrinc.com

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Dr. Michelle Millis Chappel

I'm a psychology professor-turned rock star who has helped thousands of people create successful meaningful lives by using their superpowers.

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Last Updated on July 18, 2019

How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

Most people grow up with dreams to go to college and graduate with high-paying job offers waiting for them the week after graduation. Others may favor non-traditional career paths. But the desire is the same: to find a job we love where compensation is commensurate with experience.

However, plans change. For instance, what started out as a dream to be a surgeon is cut short by a nasty injury and you’re debating how to transition into a new role. Or you might be facing being let go from your current employer and are anxious about “options out there.”

Whatever the case may be, switching careers can be intentional or unintentional. What matters is that you’re well-prepared, and the only way to do so is to learn new skills — hone in on your transferable skills.

Why Hone in on Your Transferable Skills?

There are several reasons you need to develop these skills if you want to go far in life and your career. In a nutshell, honing in your your transferable skills can lead to:

Better Job Offers

Continuous assessment and improvement of your skills widens the pool of job offers for you to make selections from. You’re no longer tethered to one industry as you’re able to lead your career by design, not by default.

People with transferable skills on a resume also open up opportunities for more potential employers.

Increase in Pay and More Responsibilities

You’ve heard the saying “with great power come great responsibility.” In your case, transferable skills make you more marketable to employers which could lead to pay raises.

Although this isn’t an automatic process– you have to be proactive about what you want in the marketplace, there is a chance that these pay raises will come with change in titles and roles.

A Shot at Entrepreneurship

Yes, changing career paths also includes the possibility of working for yourself. With these skills and work experience, you could live anywhere in the world and design a life and career you want.

We’ve talked about why you need to strengthen your transferable skills but what are some these skills, and how can you work on them?

13 Tips to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills

1. Update Your Resume

You might be surprised to know this but yes, updating your resume is a skill. The very first thing you should do while thinking about switching careers is to highlight attributes that make you very desirable candidate to employers.

Think about your volunteer experiences, freelance projects, and school projects. Although they might seem insignificant, they demonstrate your ability to deliver results that several companies are looking for.

While you might have held several positions since college, switching careers will require you to have a different type of resume.

There are three different types of resumes: functional, chronological, and a combination resume. However, if you are looking to switch careers you’ll want to have a functional resume. A functional resume is strengths-based that emphasizes skills that are transferable rather than a collection of dates and job titles.

2. Brush up on Your Communication Skills

Every attempt to get ahead in business and in life starts with the need to communicate effectively. Whether it is interpersonal, intercultural, or multi-generational, the ability to be seen and heard while respecting the boundaries of work relationship matters.

That’s why it’s one of the top skills you need to master. Strong communication skills allows you to effectively tailor your messages to specific audiences, which will make you a stronger asset to any organization.

To hone this skill:

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Pay attention to your listening skills. To communicate effectively, you need to first learn how to understand others.

Your ability to decode overt and implied messages, no matter how nuanced they are, is key to knowing how to foster deep relationships with others.

This article can also give you effective ways to enhance your communication skills:

How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

3. Learn Technical (or Business) Writing

Another form of communication, writing, is a skill that can take you anywhere.

Companies communicate a lot through written memos, emails, newsletters, and other audio-visual means. But at the crux of this all is someone or some people who are tasked with translating the organization’s vision into statements anyone can understand.

To hone this skill:

Consider taking some free or paid classes online. You can accomplish this through several community colleges or online platforms like Lynda, Udemy or edX .

4. Practice Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

No matter how intelligent you are, no one will take you seriously if you’re unable to pull off a decent level of persuasion through presentation skills.

Most presentation can be done through either electronic devices or require your physical presence. Your chosen career may require you to be in front of several hundreds of people or you could be charged with developing materials for presentation.

To hone this skill:

Volunteer to lead projects that give you some responsibility for putting together presentations.

Also, try taking courses that will improve your public speaking skills if you feel lacking.

These tips on public speaking would be helpful too:

The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

5. Get Comfortable with Identifying Problems and Solutions

Every organization has got its problems no matter how greener the grass is on the other side.

How to hone this skill:

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Practice being resourceful.

Do you know where to find every company policy on the intranet in less than five minutes?

Think about a time you noticed some inefficiency at work and proposed a solution. Think about instances where you lent your voice to a cause which resulted in improved processes for your department.

No matter how small or inadequate you might feel, you’ve got some problem-solving skills that some organizations want.

If you look for more ways to improve your problem solving skills, take a look at this article:

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6. Recognize Your Team-Building Ability

Your ability to smoothly switch careers also depends on how well you can energize your team, especially if you’re aiming for a leadership role. Unfortunately, team-building usually isn’t something you learn on the job in most careers unless you hold a managerial position.

The good thing is that you possibly know one or two things about team-building. Think back to moments in college when you had group projects with colleagues and had to work with 3 to 4 other strangers for months. Were you able to get past your differences and disagreements to focus on the uniqueness of everyone at the table?

Making a career switch might require that you work with multidisciplinary teams whether you have a deep knowledge of what the other team does or not. I can easily think of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and social workers working closely to achieve the goals in a patient’s care plan.

How to hone this skill:

Look for collaborative projects and team building activities that excite you and challenge yourself with new possibilities.

Try some of these tactics to keep your team motivated as well:

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

7. Lean into Your Leadership Skills

Although similar to the previous point, leadership skills extend far beyond building teams, managing time sheets and correcting behavior.

What I’m referring to here is your ability to develop a vision, believe in it, and inspire buy-in from everyone involved. This isn’t about knowing how to run a particular machine; it’s about how to lead a team of people with various backgrounds, experiences, and ideas of how things should be done.

How to hone this skill:

Although more complex than the rest, it all starts with an introspective look into your strengths and weaknesses. Then get a mentor or a coach who can bring out your leadership qualities so you can operate from a place of strength.

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Learn more about the effective leadership types here:

5 Types of Leadership that Help You Build a High Performance Team

8. Improve Your Analytical Skills

Are you good at taking large amount of data and interpreting them? Your skills could come in handy.

Organizations are looking for people to make sense of the data around them, explain how it affects profitability, and make projections based on it. Best of all? You don’t need to be an accountant to be analytical.

How to hone this skill:

Try taking data interpretation classes online or at a community college. Learning Microsoft Excel or Access is also a plus. If you’re ambitious enough, you could consider getting additional certifications to up the ante.

Take a look at these ways to help sharpen your analytical skills:

What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success

9. Don’t Discount Your Time Management and Prioritization Skills

How good are you when it comes to deciding how important tasks are, organizing schedules, and coordinating plans?

Should you be willing, there is a market waiting for you out there. Organizations and busy executives are always looking for talented individuals to outsource these tasks to.

How to hone this skill:

Although not everyone possesses secretarial superpowers, you can improve this skill by focusing on taking huge tasks and breaking them into smaller goals or steps in order to achieve a bigger goal.

Here, you can learn to prioritize to achieve more:

The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

10. Embrace Your Creative and Critical Thinking Side

Although it’s often believed that creativity is for the arts and right-brained people, I believe everyone is capable of being creative. In fact, most organizations recognize creativity as a vehicle that will drive successful inventions in the future.

How to hone this skill:

Try doing something fun. As simple as this sounds, you’d be surprised to learn how much. In fact, behavioral and learning scientist, Marily Oppezzo, says taking a walk might be all you need to get your creative juices flowing.[1]

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Anyone can be creative, you just need the right way to train your brain:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

11. Don’t Stop Learning Tech Knowledge and Skills

Being tech-savvy is a huge plus. If you have an affinity with computers, software applications and are abreast of technological improvements, it is a transferable skill that is worth highlighting.

You don’t have to be a young college graduate with silicon valley dreams to work

How to hone this skill:

All you need is the determination and the readiness to learn. This article will give you some ideas on the types of skills to learn:

How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

12. Build Networks and Relationships

You aren’t free from networking. Not at the moment. With your goal to switch to a different career, your networking skills will come in handy.

Fortunately for you, networking doesn’t have to be so hard.

How to hone this skill:

Attend conferences and job fairs. Chances are you already have people in your network you can move you closer to your dream career.

To enhance your networking skills, take these steps:

How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

Final Thoughts

Although there are several people with the same qualification and degree(s) you possess, what ultimately determines hireability comes down to a myriad of things such as culture fit, how teachable you are, cultural sensitivity, inter-generational awareness, and your ability to navigate uncertainty.

You have a chance to stand out by letting your dream companies know how these soft skills make you an invaluable asset, and how saying ‘YES’ to you is a win-win for both parties.

Happy career switching!

More Resources About Career Advancement

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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