Published on January 19, 2021

How To Go Above And Beyond At Work For Career Success

How To Go Above And Beyond At Work For Career Success

Long days, short deadlines, and never-ending workplace demands will take their toll. And with the transition to remote work this past year, no doubt you’re feeling the impact. Still, with all that’s changing in the world of work, your career success depends on whether you go above and beyond or settle with mediocrity.

Let’s start with your “Why?” If you prioritize career success, you need to build career capital. This is what you exchange for the career of your dreams.

For example, if you want more balance, greater opportunities, more earning potential, work that is rewarding and fulfilling, and the power to design a career that works for you, you need career capital. And you build this capital by going above and beyond.

But if investing in your capital and, ultimately, your career success isn’t enough reason to go above and beyond, here are three more reasons why:

  1. First, jobs are highly competitive. Recruiters and decision-makers are searching for candidates who stand out from the pack and have a history of going the extra mile.
  2. Secondly, budgets are tight. when leaders evaluate their team for cutbacks, they lean toward retaining the most valuable employees—high potentials, hard workers, strong expertise, and those willing to go above and beyond.
  3. Additionally, and by no means finally, going above and beyond comes with the satisfaction that you are building your skills, career reputation, and self-respect.

So, how do you build your career capital?

Well, it isn’t rocket science, but it does take some foresight and effort to garner the aforementioned benefits and more. As success expert and legendary motivational speaker and author Jim Rohn said, “Do more than what you are paid for as an investment in your future.” Those who do stand out and make it a daily habit will soar.


To help you identify and formulate the practice of going above and beyond for career success, here are a few simple strategies:

1. Embrace Work Ethic

Buckle up friends, because going above and beyond is not a “one and done” activity. Rather, it’s a honed habit, nurtured over time that helps you stand apart from your colleagues and competition. Why? Because it’s a rare quality these days.

Going above and beyond is commonly known as “work ethic,” and work ethic means valuing and demonstrating good, quality, and hard work—sought after traits by employers. Too often, people look for shortcuts, the easy way, the magic bullet, and the path of least resistance. Unfortunately, this has become the norm.

It takes effort to embrace work ethic, but if you show that you are willing to put in the work to get great results, your possibilities are endless.

2. Demonstrate Your Leadership

As Mark Sanborn’s book aptly puts it “You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader,” and true leaders are people others want to follow.

Since leaders understand the importance of having a vision, they do the work necessary to realize that vision. When you know what your goals are—even if they are a little fuzzy—you have a target to shoot for. This not only helps you become more focused, productive, and more likely to achieve your desired outcomes but working on goals also demonstrates your leadership acumen.


Other leaders like that. They are drawn to it and when you can align your goals with those of others, there is no stopping you.

3. Take the Initiative

If you prioritize career success, then you will never utter the phrase “That’s not my job.” Ambition is all about stepping in when the opportunity presents itself. Look for ways in which you can make contributions to your team and your supervisor. This may require putting in some extra hours or even spending some time on projects that are not your own.

Regardless of what it is you offer to do, helping others succeed is the hallmark of a great leader, and it’s also a behavior that gets noticed for all the right reasons. While this altruistic behavior is always welcome and certainly bodes well for your career reputation, let’s be honest—it’s more inviting when it aligns with your goals.

Say that your boss is working on developing their strategic planning report. Knowing that you have an interest in moving up the ladder and that this may eventually be something you’re asked to do, why not offer your help, even if it’s just to listen and offer feedback or brainstorming support?

In doing so, you are learning a valuable skill and demonstrating to your superior that you are a leader who’s willing to go above and beyond for your career success.

4. Communicate Like a Pro

The one skill we all need to continually hone is communication. Written, verbal, and non-verbal, presenting, sales, negotiation, are all critical career success skills that fall under the umbrella of communication. And when you go above and beyond, you’re communicating like a professional. In other words, you’ve taken the time necessary to build this skill and ensure all your communication is clear, brief, timely, and professional.


A perfect example of this is how you handle emails. Brief and direct with outlined expected outcomes is the rule of thumb. While this may take extra time to prepare a well-written message, all your communication should serve a purpose and garner intended results.

Another way to go above in beyond is to be responsive. Most texts, emails, calls, and messages all warrant a response. Your reputation is not only tied to how thoughtfully you communicate but also on how you can always be counted on for a professional and timely reply.

Even better, make your response in person or pick up the phone and give someone a call. By doing so, you are not only demonstrating your professionalism but also that you’re willing to go above and beyond and handle matters confidently and directly. A “live” encounter offers the opportunity to add tone and clarity and shows that you are willing to put in the effort to create a win-win.

5. Develop Your Expertise

Success-minded individuals know the importance of continually honing their skills and expertise. If you want to go, you’ve got to grow.

Don’t wait for your supervisor to outline what training and conferences that you should attend. Go above and beyond by seeking opportunities for yourself. Start each month outlining what you will learn and the skill you plan to develop. Create a list of books, webinars, conferences, Ted Talks, courses, and mentoring opportunities to invest time in.

The good news is that most of these are free. Another compelling reason to create and engage in your own professional development plan is that it is a great way to build your network and impress your boss in your annual review.


6. Build a Valuable Network

Routinely connecting with your network, meeting new people, attending networking events, and engaging in informational interviews are all activities required for career success. And all of these interactions should be a mutually-beneficial interaction.

It’s not about what these folks can do for you but how you can serve one another, even if it’s just listening, brainstorming, or lifting someone’s spirits with a check-in call. Remember that your network is the lynchpin for elevating your career. These are the folks that will help you open doors. And being a gracious connection, you should do the same for them.

Building your network will also help you go above and beyond at work. When you can bring people together, it not only helps solve a problem but it also makes you look pretty good. People appreciate the extra effort and thought and will return the favor.

So, be a power connector—leveraging your network in ways that help others and connect like-minded individuals in the process of going above and beyond. Take your supervisor. If you know a key decision-maker whom they should meet or a vendor that could help them with a project, this effort will not go unnoticed.

Recently, I was connecting with my mentor regarding a project that he was working on and needed help with. Thankfully, I had someone in my network who could assist him and that introduction opened the door to an offer for collaboration. It’s not about exchanging a name for an outcome, but rather, building your reputation as someone who goes above and beyond.

Final Thoughts

Opportunities abound to build your reputation as a leader, expert, connecter, communicator, and trusted colleague. And these are the competitive character traits in demand today. While it’s not hard to hone these skills, they do require work and one small effort of going above and beyond each day will compound over time and increase your capital. After all, it’s the only way to grow and sustain a successful career.

More Tips on How to Go Above and Beyond at Work

Featured photo credit: Saulo Mohana via

More by this author

Kim Monaghan

Career Happiness Coach, HR Consultant, Trainer & Speaker

10 Actionable Tips To Make Tough Decisions in Life How To Go Above And Beyond At Work For Career Success

Trending in Career Success

1 How To Make the Right Career Choice After 30 And Succeed 2 Why You Can (And You Should) Quit Your Job Because of Stress 3 4 Effective Ways To Improve Your Work Performance Greatly 4 10 Things You Haven’t Tried To Boost Your Confidence At Work 5 10 Ways to Find Your Dream Job

Read Next


Last Updated on March 4, 2021

How To Make the Right Career Choice After 30 And Succeed

How To Make the Right Career Choice After 30 And Succeed

In college, you have about a one in three chance of switching majors at least once, according to government stats.[1] It’s not a big deal then, because you’re not locked into a professional path. What happens, though, when you want to make a career change later? Are you stuck at 30 with the career choice you made at 20? Not at all.

In fact, plenty of people make minor and significant career power moves after adulting for a few years. Some have become disenchanted with their original picks. Others realize their talents are more suitable in some other field. Whatever the reason, all career movers usually feel trepidation. After all, busting out of an unfulfilling career choice before midlife seems daunting.

Here’s the truth, though—it doesn’t have to cause undue amounts of stress. Truth be told, you can do a full u-turn professionally with a career choice that works. You just have to take a few steps to up the chances of emotional, intellectual, and fiscal success.

1. Stop Pursuing Your Future Life on Today’s Terms

As Jason Jaggard, the founder of executive coaching firm Novus Global, points out, you don’t have to waste time finding out how to live life on your terms. Why? You’re already doing it—you just don’t realize you’re doing it!

“Your life is the perfect expression of your current terms. Before you try to be successful on your own terms, first you’ll want to improve your terms.”[2]


Consequently, you need to figure out why your current life has worked for you so far, why it doesn’t work now, and what price you are willing to pay to change it. For instance, you might be going to a nine-to-five job and making “x” amount of dollars annually. What has the 9 to 5 gotten you so far? (i.e. security?) So, security is one of your current terms. But is that the term you want? Maybe not.

Figure out what your next-gen terms will be. You’ll be in a better position to negotiate them as you look into a new career.

2. Audition a Bunch of Careers

Before you dive into a career choice that seems like a dream come true, act like Simon Cowell and audition a few possibilities. Consider it something like a taste test. Set out a buffet of business options and then figure out a way to try them all. As an example, you might want to shadow someone in the career or interview a person from LinkedIn—yes, even a stranger. People are quite open to responding to requests for guidance.

Evaluating numerous paths will only help you feel better about your upcoming move. The last thing you want to do is assume that a field will be “the one,” only to find out you were wrong. That’s like going into a marriage after only a first date. So, allow yourself to think big, but don’t commit to any specific career choice until you’ve tried on several.

3. Pinpoint Your North Star

Every job seeker and career climber has a North Star. It’s Mt. Everest, the pinnacle of “I made it!


Jawad Ahsan, the best-selling author of What They Didn’t Tell Me, says you need your North Star as a guide. Ahsan recommends that once you have it, you can “work backwards from there to where you are today, and focus on the experiences you need to get to stay on your path.” He suggests getting help from sherpas along the way, such as honest mentors.

What if you’re having difficulty focusing on your North Star? Picture yourself in three years. Where are you? What does your life look like? Be general. Don’t get all muddied in specific jobs. Just be open-minded. Do you want to manage others? Work independently? Be creative? Help people solve big (or small) problems? Your answers will help you define your North Star.

4. Keep Your Day Job—for Now

As you become more excited at the thought of a career change, you might be tempted to quit whatever you’re doing now. Please don’t. You’ll only set yourself up for potential hardship. Here’s why: It can be very challenging to explain to a would-be recruiter why you suddenly left a position. The recruiter may see you as a “flight risk,” and that’s not a good look.

Yes, it can be tough to keep going into an office or situation that leaves you disengaged. Nevertheless, you will at least have income flowing into your account. And having enough money today will keep you from fretting if you have to take a lower salary temporarily later. After all, sometimes, reaching your North Star will require detours like going back to school or taking lesser paying positions.

5. Try a Side Hustle

Many people have discovered that the gig economy isn’t just a way to earn some extra bucks while you’re working full time. It’s a terrific, low-risk method to try out careers.


Consider this: You would love to work on old cars for a living. But you’re currently an accountant, and your family counts on your income to cover expenses. As a result, you start a little side business working on a few friends’ antique autos from your home garage.

In time, you get quite the reputation as someone who knows how to turn a clunker into a status symbol. With a little help from a decent website, word-of-mouth marketing, and thoughtful digital advertising, you land lots of clients. If you can reach a tipping point, you can flip your side gig. How? Perhaps you keep working as an accountant during tax season but fix cars the rest of the time.

6. Get in Gear to “Skill Up”

Unless your career change choice is a straight lateral move from what you’re doing today, you’ll need new expertise. Fortunately, you live in a virtual world. That means you can take courses online from reputable organizations and universities. Some classes and workshops are free or extremely affordable, too. This allows you to upskill in a precise way to boost your resume.

As you begin to enhance your abilities and education, start expanding your network. For instance, on LinkedIn, begin to connect with people in fields that might interest you. Don’t be afraid to ask strangers to become connections. Lots of people will say yes. You can even message them and ask for suggestions in ways to get more experience in particular industries.

7. Remain Patient Throughout the Process

What’s one of the biggest reasons job hoppers lose faith when trying to change careers in their 30s or beyond? The answer is easy—lack of patience. It can be tough to wait months or years to get what you want. That’s why you have to keep yourself motivated (and why you shouldn’t allow yourself to be ruled by the negative people in your world).


Some people like to keep journals of their day-to-day journeys. This keeps them focused on the ultimate prize. Others literally remind themselves of their passions regularly so they aren’t tempted to quit. Veering away from a career path takes a lot of inner strength. Surround yourself with supportive family and friends and leave the naysayers beyond.

8. Prepare Yourself Financially

When you’re just setting out on your career in your early 20s, you aren’t as worried about earning a salary. Sure, you have bills to pay. But you probably don’t own a house or maybe even a car. Switching careers in your 30s is a completely different ballgame.

By the time you’re in your 30s, you likely have multiple financial obligations. You might even have a spouse or kiddos or at least a furry friend. Utility bills, internet payments, and student loans add up. Therefore, do yourself a huge bonus and sock away money as soon as you realize you’re going to change careers.

9. Share Your Career Choice Goals With Others

It can be tough to make good decisions in a vacuum because you’ll probably miss something. Consequently, you may want to share your career change decisions with close friends or loved ones. Explain what you want to do, and listen to their responses. They might have some amazing feedback or ideas that you never considered.

Will some people try to talk you out of shifting careers? Certainly. Don’t dismiss their concerns out of hand, though. Instead, hear them out. What they say might include a few nuggets of wisdom that you can use. Besides, you’ll appreciate having folks to share your successes with when everything starts to come to fruition.

Final Thoughts

Above all else, your life is a journey ideally dictated by what you need and want. If you’re approaching 30 and feeling disconnected careerwise, contemplate a move. You’ll be in good company with all the others who have made the trip before you.

More Career Advice

Featured photo credit: Tim Gouw via


Read Next