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Career Success

14 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Advancement

Written by Deb Johnstone
Deb is a professional mindset speaker and a transformational life, business and career coach. Specialising in NLP and dynamic mindset.
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Are you focused on career advancement, or is it not your priority?

For many of us, having a secure job to go to each week is important and a career is not much of an interest. It may not be an issue until we start to feel discontent at work which naturally leads us to start to look for another job.

There are many benefits to advancing our careers. These include salary raises, increased work satisfaction, travel opportunities, building skills, and personal growth. All of these contribute to our quality of life in general.

For many people, career advancement happens organically. But for most of us, if it is something we want, then we need to make a conscious choice.

If you’ve had an intention to advance your career from the onset, you possibly have a good idea of where you’re heading and how to get there. But if you’re new to the concept, you may not know where to start. Let us begin my understanding of the concept of career advancement.

What is Career Advancement?

Career advancement is referred to as the upward evolution of one’s career. Moving from entry-level employment to a managerial position within the same industry or from one occupation to another is one way to advance.

Gaining experience and possibly completing additional training can help you move up the corporate ladder within the same industry. When a person advances by changing occupations, they may move into a similar field with higher educational requirements and responsibilities.


For example, a physical therapy aide who goes to school to become a physical therapy assistant. The first employment only demands a high school diploma, whereas the second requires an associate’s degree.

It is divided into two categories: career planning and career management. While being able to build a realistic career plan to examine the talents and potential of employees with the help of consultants and other individuals, career planning describes the actions conducted by a person.

Some activities aid in the development of a person’s personality and the formation of career goals. Career management is mainly concerned with what the organization can do to take the necessary measures to reach that strategy and support employee career development.

Because the vast majority of workers transform their occupations into a medieval lifestyle, it is apparent that career advancement programs are required at all stages of life.

Why is Career Advancing Important?

1. Reduces Staff Turnover

Career advancement opportunities can assist boost employee happiness and, as a result, lower the number of people who want to quit the company.

When considering a career advancement program, there is the possibility of equal opportunity employment because these programs identify each person based on their qualities. Highly effective people and their shown outcomes are used as a criterion for their development, rather than other factors, demonstrating equitable opportunity.


We acquire a sense of meaning from our job through identifying with it. This comprises work-related meaning (derived from belonging to a group) and work-related meaning (derived from a connection with the work itself). Individuals who have a strong sense of purpose in their work and their organization are more productive and committed.

2. Improves Employee Productivity

Understanding the meaning of career advancement allows employees to gain new skills and expand their knowledge of their current jobs. It also assists them in effectively managing their time and ensuring that staff utilization grows over time.

3. Improves Employee Work-life Effectiveness

Career development assists employees in learning better working practices, work ethics, and other key aspects of their jobs.

Employees have gained a better understanding of the company’s diverse activities as a result of a career development program. As a result, information sharing and work ethics tend to enhance the organization.

4. Increases Employee Skill

When an employee participates in a career development program, their skill level rises. These programs are designed to improve numerous aspects of a worker’s life, allowing them to perform better at work.

16 Steps to Achieve Career Advancement

Because of this, I have put together what I consider to be 16 powerful steps to achieve career advancement.

1. Set An Intention to Advance Your Career

Starting with the outcome in mind is always a good place to start when you want to achieve something.

Forbes magazine says that it is about defining what success is in your career.[1] Success is different for everyone, so it is important to make this clear from the beginning.

This can be challenging from the onset, especially if you are not really sure. But if you spend time exploring this early, it will guide you to make the right decision and help you choose the right company to work for and the roles most appropriate for you.


Even more essential is to regularly check in with your intentions at different points throughout your career path. This will help you see if it is still relevant to what you want as you change and grow. Because what you want now will more likely be very different from what you want in five years.

A favorite interview question is, “What is your five-year plan?

This is because it is helpful to know this when your potential employer makes a decision. It is also beneficial for you because it gives you direction and helps you make effective decisions.

Remember that your career is just a part of your life; it is important that it benefits your life in general.

2. Explore What You Enjoy

The more we enjoy our work, the more satisfied we feel. And increasing job satisfaction gives us more potential for career advancement. We become more productive when we see greater opportunities that lead us to be noticed.

In general, we enjoy what we are good at, but that is not always the case. Sometimes, we develop strengths just because we have been doing them for a long time, or we have been trained well.

It’s also easier to learn new skills when they are related to what you enjoy. Even out of my comfort zone skills become more doable. For instance, I was a C-grade student in English, and now I have become a skilled writer because I write about my passion.


We can be doing something for years without fully enjoying our work. Getting clear on what most lights you up from the inside and working with that create fulfillment. This contributes to your prospects of career advancement.

Write a list of all the things you have enjoyed, even what you loved to do as a child. Look for a common thread that could be part of your career.

3. Be a Forward Thinker in Your Job Choice

If career advancement was not on your horizon before, you might be in the pattern of accepting a job just because it is offered. It is easy to do, especially if you are unhappy in your current workplace.

Doing this can eventually lead to more of the same; even if you are happy in the role, to begin with. This can limit your career and even set you back for a few years.

When you have a big-picture outcome for your career, you can use a simple process to ensure you make choices serving that outcome. This can fast-track your career success.

For each role or job that interests you, check for its alignment with the bigger picture.

Look for where it can contribute to your ultimate goal and how you can use it as a stepping-stone. For example, will it mean you have to learn new skills or open yourself up to new networks? Is there potential for promotion or not?


4. Do Not Keep Your Plans a Secret

In business, there is a fantastic saying:

“You can be really good at what you do, but if it’s a secret you won’t attract clients.”

The same goes for learning how to advance your career. You can have wonderful plans for professional growth, but keeping it a secret delays your development.

When you have decided what you want to achieve in your career, it is a good idea to let the appropriate people know. This might mean being prepared for that “5-year plan” question at your interview and answering honestly. Or actually, ask if there are opportunities for career advancement.

And if you are in a company you love working for, let your superior know your aims. Freely sharing this information and asking them to keep you in mind puts you on their radar. This makes them more likely to give you the chance to develop yourself or trust you with extra responsibilities.

As you take on more, it gives you a chance to show what you are capable of. And this puts you at the forefront of future opportunities.

5. Stand Out by Believing in Yourself

When we believe in ourselves, it increases our self-confidence. And we all know that confidence tends to accelerate one’s career.

Believing in yourself and what you are capable of also leads others to believe in you too. This makes you more likely to be considered for promotion when it becomes available.


We are all very good at noticing our negative qualities. Many of us are also very talented at beating ourselves up for those things. This lowers our self-belief and in turn, our self-confidence.

When we flip this pattern and notice our wonderful qualities instead, our self-belief increases. Plus, our superiors are more likely to notice those strengths too.

One of the greatest self-confidence-boosting exercises I like to do is writing a list of all your amazing qualities in a journal. Then write a list of all the things you are good at. Allow yourself plenty of time to do this and keep coming back to it as the answers come to you.

You will be astonished at how much you have on your list. And you may realize that you are a great catch for any employer.

6. Identify Your Strengths Using Profiling Tools

Profiling tools are a fantastic way to identify what we are good at. It can cut out the guesswork, and it hones in on our professional strengths. These days, there are many different types available.

Extended DISC is a tool I have used for myself and my clients for a long time. I prefer this method because it doesn’t pigeonhole us. Instead, it helps us build on the strengths and developmental areas that we naturally have.


This profiling tool is based on the works of Carl Jung and William Marston. It helps us build on our strengths and modify our behaviors to improve our performance. And when we improve our performance, we increase our opportunity for career advancement.

We can identify our strengths by writing our own lists in a journal. We can also ask our work colleagues or honest friends to help us with this. Other people close to us can often see our strengths easier than we can.

Once you know your strengths, identify ways to build on them to improve your performance. You can try to volunteer for responsibilities where your strengths can be utilized.

7. Be Prepared to Level Up Your Knowledge and Skills

For every strength, there is an underside, and we must work on those to increase our opportunities.

Einstein’s definition of insanity is:

“Doing the same thing and expecting a different result.”

This means that if we want to advance our careers, we might need to do different things and learn new skills. We can also develop in areas that we are not that strong at.

Be willing to study further to support your career advancement. In many instances, the company you work for will chip in with the financial side. But if not, be happy to fund it yourself. After all, it is for your own benefit.

Also, volunteering for extra responsibilities that are out of your comfort zone allows you to learn new skills. You can sometimes do this by offering to cover someone when they are away or on holiday.


8. Show That You Want to Advance Your Career

We can have the best skills in the world, but if our outer image does not reflect our inner success, we can still be passed over when it comes to promotion.

Our image gives others an impression of our personal brand. Our personal brand is what we stand for, which includes our qualities, beliefs, and values. Therefore, it is important to look the part.

Sally Mlikota from CBC Staff Selection says it is important to dress for success. Research conducted by various career agencies showed that 65% of hiring managers say that clothes can be the deciding factor between two similar candidates in an interview. [2]

I believe this also applies when already working in a company you want to advance in. Promotion really is like applying for a new job.

Think about the new role you want and the responsibilities along with it. Consider the qualities, values, and strengths the role might require. Do you have those attributes, and if not, how will you develop them?

And once you have those qualities, how would you dress and present yourself? A personal stylist can also help you with this.


This is not about becoming something you are not. It’ is about developing and building on who you already are. Then, act and dress as if you already have the role.

9. Find a Good Mentor to Help You Advance Faster

For anything we want to achieve, there is always someone else who has already done it. And if we have a successful career, we are often eager to share how we did it.

Achieving success in anything involves making mistakes and overcoming many challenges. Working with a mentor or a coach can help you minimize these and fast-track your career success.

That is why many network marketers do so well. They always have mentors on hand to tell them step-by-step how they did it.

You can find a mentor in your current workplace, or you can meet them while networking.

In my experience, networking in appropriate circles always expands opportunities. It gives us the chance to get to know people. And this allows us to make the best choices.

When deciding on a mentor, make sure that the person has the results you want. Just because someone has the kind of role you want doesn’t necessarily mean they are doing it well. It’s essential to build relationships first, so you can get to know the person before you decide.


Lastly, don’t be shy about it. Just ask them. More often than not, you will find they feel honoured.

10. Get Sponsorship

While sponsorship may appear to be the same as mentorship, it requires finding someone to advocate for you in your professional life. A sponsor can put your name forward for a job, make phone calls on your behalf, introduce you to others, and advocate for you in meetings.

Finding a sponsor may necessitate a sizeable proportion of networking and outreach before you find the appropriate person.

11. Maintain Your Health to Protect the Asset

It may seem strange to consider your physical health an asset, but wait until you lose it and are out of sick days.

Regular exercise, proper nutrition, and, most importantly, a good night’s sleep regularly are all critical factors in ensuring that your career lasts rather than burns out quickly.

12. Future-oriented Work

Short-term goals will get you there, but keep in mind what you want to achieve in the long run. Advancing your profession for the sake of a wage boost or the added prestige of a working title are fleeting pleasures that will fade as quickly as your ecstasy.

Work toward a goal that is more significant than material things. Always have a long-term aim in mind, whether to subsidize a remote village in a third-world country or spur innovation in a critical industry.

Warren Buffet, the renowned businessman observed,

“Someone is sitting in the shade now because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

13. Never Give Up on Learning

Continuously acquiring new knowledge is an established way to advance in your career. Keep up with industry changes and advances, and make sure your current resume represents the necessary skills. Take concrete steps to improve your abilities.

Look for training opportunities. Read a lot of books. Take the time to read blogs. Make an effort to learn new talents and put them to use with your existing employees as often as possible.

If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward.

14. Improve Your Interpersonal Skills

Strong interpersonal skills are essential for obtaining the respect of your boss and co-workers, as well as attracting the attention of outside influencers who can help you open new doors of opportunity. Be approachable, friendly, and outgoing. Pay attention to what others are saying and practice becoming a clear and effective communicator.

15. Surround Yourself With Those Better Than You

It’s a rule of thumb among musicians that if you want to get better, then you need to get out of the bedroom and play with people who are better than you.

By surrounding yourself with people who are better than you and where you want to be, you’ll not only see how these people climbed to where they are in their respective fields, but you’ll learn from them and naturally want to push yourself to be better in your own job as well.

16. Don’t Just Build Your Network… Cultivate It

It’s way too easy to add new people to your LinkedIn network and then forget about them for all eternity. Rather than just collecting business cards or social media contacts, you should be cultivating relationships with the ones you already have.

Follow up with people that you haven’t spoken to in a while, offer to connect them with somebody you know in their field, or ask about a new job title they may have taken on. Doing so could be the spark that leads to a potential job referral.

Final Thoughts

We spend many hours at work each week. For that reason, it is vital that we feel satisfied with our roles. Feeling happy at work has a positive effect on our health and every relationship we have both at work and personally.

There are two choices:

You can either take it as it comes and change jobs when you feel unhappy. This means leaving it to chance, and you might never feel long-term fulfillment.

Or, you can consciously choose career advancement and know where you are heading. This one has positive effects on all aspects of your life, not to mention the potential increases in salary.

Which one will you choose?

Featured photo credit: Jud Mackrill via unsplash.com


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