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How to climb the career ladder in 5 easy steps

Does it sometimes feel like everyone around you is advancing their careers and hitting the big time at breakneck speed, but you’re stuck in a bit of a career rut?

Climbing the career ladder can seem as daunting as a long charity climb up Kilimanjaro, *thanks but no thanks* but think of the rewards… besides buns of steel – you’re looking at more opportunities for a better pay packet, less ‘yeah man I live for the weekends’ and more ‘no way it’s Friday already? Time flies when you’re having fun’.

Whether you’re already happy at work but itching for a new challenge, or your job is feeling as tragic as an episode of The Office – we’re here to help you get your arse in gear and take your career to the top…

1. Know what you want and make a plan


Some people stumble through life taking career break after career break, perfecting their yoga poses atop foreign cliffs over crystal clear waters, but not exactly perfecting their career. 

And whilst this is kind of acceptable in your early twenties, as you hit your mid thirties/early forties, have a family and commit to the dreaded mortgage, it’s not feasible to hop from continent to continent. Lying in a hammock with a screaming eight month old baby sure as hell isn’t going to be as relaxing. It’s wise to get your priorities nailed and start setting some clear career goals…

Do you have your sights set on early retirement? The chance to spend your days sunning in the South of France, a beer in one hand, a fro-yo in the other. 

If you want some clarity on where you’re going and what you need to do to get there, it could be time to write a detailed career plan, mapping timescales, action points, essential training and outlining specific professional experience you’ll need to make your dreams a reality. 

Remember, it’s not enough to just want a promotion or hope for a new job… It’s not going to be handed to you just because you reckon you deserve it. Being clear on how and where you want to progress will help you understand how you can prove yourself and get to the top. 

See also: How to write a killer career plan

2. Get educated

Sometimes you have to ‘speculate to accumulate’ – yep we like our buzz phrases – and this has never been more relevant than it is in the workplace today. There will always be someone younger, keener and cheaper coming in to take new roles in a company. 

No amount of moisturising will turn back the clock on those laughter lines, but some investment in your professional development now could set you head and shoulders above the rest. New qualifications make you more employable, give you better salary prospects and put you at the top of the list when it comes to a possible promotion. Sounds good right?

Elearning is gaining in popularity and is the best option for busy professionals who need to fit professional development around hectic lifestyles. Think about your own sweaty mad rush for the train everyday followed by that long and boring commute spent twiddling your thumbs… why not use the time for something that’s actually going to help you progress in your career?

If you do bite the education bullet and enrol on a professional development course, great. But remember to shout about it! Tell your boss and everyone who’ll listen when you get certified. 

It’s all well and good having the knowledge but your boss isn’t psychic! Tell them all the gory details of what you’ve learnt, so they know how much work you put into upskilling. They’ll start to see you as the clued up, promotable individual you are… That promotion is looking more likely by the minute.

See also: Didn’t get a promotion? 4 things to consider before throwing a hissy

3. Write a killer CV


It’d be silly to underestimate the power of a strong CV. If a weak CV slams doors well and truly shut, a great CV can open doors for you. Whatever you want to find on the other side of that door, a world of opportunity and somewhere much more fulfilling awaits you. 

Be sure to keep your CV:

  • To the point – don’t waffle… list specific skills using key industry speak and phrases, bullet points are a great way to make it more reader friendly. As we demonstrate so well…
  • Current – no one wants to read about that particularly excellent scout project you completed 20 years ago… even if it did earn you the chief scout badge.
  • Don’t forget to mention any volunteering roles, big name clients you’ve worked with and, of course, any professional development courses and qualifications you’ve completed.

See also: Things to put on a CV: 5 extra curricular wins to get you hired

4. Be innovative

If there’s a problem in your workplace, solve it. If you don’t feel as though you or your peers are getting enough support with professional development, suggest ways management can make it better – in a positive, subtle and non aggressive way – naturally.

If your boss is looking for someone to organise a charity football match… raise your hand and organise the best charity football match there has ever been. Put yourself forward and get yourself noticed for all the right reasons. 

Hard work 100% pays off. Steer clear from being overly sycophantic though or your peers may start avoiding you in the canteen.

Going the extra mile won’t necessarily get you that pay rise or instant promotion, but it will show that you’re willing and ready to do more, can solve problems and are a strong and well respected member of the team… that counts for a lot these days.

To give yourself the best chance at climbing the career ladder and actually reaching the top, is a combination of hard work, experience and qualifications.

See also: Alternative team building ideas that won’t be a yawn fest

5. Stay positive


No one likes a moaner, least of all an attractive employer who has people queuing up to work for them. Moaning creates negativity and bad feeling amongst a team. 

Don’t be drawn into whispered conversations about the new head of department, colleagues or clients. 

As your mother probably said more than once as you were growing up, ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.’ This has never been truer than in the workplace today. As much as it’ll kill you not to talk about Bob’s new toupee and its casual first outing… it’s for the best.

Spread positivity, praise people, listen to ideas, stop the eye rolling and if you’re really that unhappy in your job, it may be time to pack up and look for new opportunities. Remember, roll with the punches and be positive – people who complain are far less likely to be looked upon favourably, for a promotion or otherwise.

See also: 5 tips for avoiding office drama