Career Advice: Climbing the Ladder

Devil-Wears-PradaImage from Marie Claire 

Working your way up in your chosen profession can be tricky.  You’ll be forced to make choices, face your every doubt and fear, and there will be plenty of competition along the way.  But the greatest quality you have to help you is your confidence.  It’s knowing you can do the job if only given the chance, and willing to do whatever it takes to earn that chance, even if that means picking yourself up after you’ve fallen.  Once you have confidence in yourself and your dreams, a little advice on how to handle the workplace is just icing on the cake.  So here’s a few tricks to getting ahead.

1) Keep moving

Life is short, and you never know where an opportunity may come from. So never sit still and wait for your chance to come along.  You’ve got to go out there and open doors, and the only way to do that is to try everything.  If you can’t move up, move sideways.  Volunteer for projects or help co-workers, even if they’re in other departments.   You never know where something will lead you, but one thing is for sure – standing still will get you absolutely nowhere.

2) Take risks

Don’t waste time gathering your courage and making sure you’re perfectly ready to take that next step, because you never will be.  If something matters to you enough, you’ll always have doubts. The only way to get past your nerves is by pushing them aside, closing your eyes, and diving into the deep end.  Get into the habit now by widening your comfort zone. Do something every day that you would never have done before.  By the time you’re through, taking risks will be a habit and your insecurities will never hold you back again.

3) Ask, don’t tell

It might be natural for you to talk about your personal life at work, or share your thoughts and opinions, but save that for when you’re the boss.  Right now nobody has the time to listen, especially if they don’t know how long you’ll be there.  Instead, ask questions.  Gather information and make it clear you’re there to learn and grow.  Wait until someone asks for your opinion, then you’ll know you’re on the right track.

4) Look up

Everyone above you on the corporate ladder got there for a reason.  So find someone more successful whom you would like to emulate.  Maybe because they have the position you want, or because you admire how they handle themselves, or because everything they say sounds clever and wise.  But if you take your cues from someone who has already gotten where you want to be and did it in a way you admire, you’ll be that much closer to success.

5) Be your own best friend

The first person you should be able to count on in life is you.  Sadly, that’s not always the case. Most people are hardest on themselves and this can stand in their way.  How can you ask others to believe in you if you can’t even have faith in yourself?  So the minute you start criticizing yourself or your actions, just stop.  Instead, try to come up with at least five things you like about yourself.   Try being your own best friend instead of your own worst enemy.

6) Clean out your social closet

This one is simple.  You will never get ahead unless you surround yourself with people who care about you, have your best interests at heart, are supportive, and believe in you.  If anyone in your life does not meet this basic criteria, remove them from your circle, immediately.  Pursuing your dreams is hard enough, there is no reason to devote your time, energy, and emotions to someone who only makes it harder.

7) All work and no play

As much as I believe in ambition I do not advise becoming a workaholic.  If you push yourself too far, neglect your health, or lose perspective then what was the point of it all?  Personally, I both work hard and play hard. You need sleep, downtime, a social life, hobbies, and vacations just as much as you need to keep your eye on the prize.

8) Be prepared

Just like you never know where an opportunity might come from, you also never know when.  So always do your homework and be prepared.   Keep up with company news, ask questions and be aware of what’s happening around you.  Research possible projects to join, or keep an idea journal. Know what’s happening not only in your company, but in your industry.  Be ready for any chance to be heard.

9) Look the part

Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.  If you’re not sure how to do that or what’s appropriate, simply look at your mentors.   Studying their fashion sense in the office should give you a clue.

If you stay focused and confident anything is possible.  Knowing what you want to accomplish and never giving up is always Emma Approved.