7 Unconventional Tips That Will Advance Your Career

We all have the conventional career-advancing tips down pat: Come into work on time, get your projects done by deadline, show enthusiasm, ask questions, keep learning, yada, yada, yada. We all know the cliches of "Be the first one to arrive and the last one to leave," and "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have," but how exactly do you stand out from the crowd if the crowd is doing the exact same thing you are? It can seem a little cut-throat if you're putting in time and a half and so is Susie in the cubicle over, yet neither of you are getting any closer to that next big promotion. What do you do then?

You look outside the well-formulated box and try something new. There are so many different ways out there to prove your worth and to move up the career ladder, and all you have to do is take a minute to suss them out. Whether it's hitting Twitter to find your next big leap into a new company, starting a blog to showcase your expertise and inspire people to want to work with you, or relying on your perky personality to get ahead, there are so many things you can do that don't rely on you being an early bird and catching a worm. Break the cliches; try something unconventional. Below are seven unconventional tips that'll advance your career forward!

1. Remember: Social Media Is For More Than Just Your Morning Coffee Pics

Your Twitter and Instagram isn't just for frothy pictures of your cappuccinos and your adorably silly pup — if used correctly, it can be your ticket to show your expertise and catch the eye of potential employers.

Dan Schawbel, New York Times bestselling author of Promote Yourself, told career-development site Levo, "When creating a social media strategy, there are a few things you need to consider. First, determine how much time you have to devote to social media. If you find yourself pressed for time, it’s a good idea to choose the best platform for your profession. Next, it’s important to create a schedule for sharing industry-related content. This allows you to focus your social media efforts on platforms that will get you noticed by employers." Share relevant and interesting content, comment on your industry, jump into conversations that let you flex your knowledge muscles, follow people that can get you into your dream job — use these platforms not only to put yourself on the radar, but to show you bring value.

2. Know That Personality Can Sometimes Be More Important Than Skill Sets

This might sound wrong, but I've seen it happen firsthand. Back when I was an assistant in a Chicago firm, I can't tell you how many people I've seen hired not because they had the best resume, but because they got along so well with my bosses and exuded the type of personality they would like to work with. It's true: Don't blend in. Rather, play out your personality and let it match the tone of your workplace.

According to financial writer Julie Rains at finance and life hack site Wise Bread, "The unique needs of the manager and department often play a major role in hiring decisions. Credentials that should get you a slot with an organization may not be as important as personality and culture fit. To land a job that makes you happy, look for companies that share your values and don't be afraid to be yourself." So let that freak flag fly — it might be just what your bosses were waiting for.

3. Feeling Ambitious? Don't Take Any Days Off

I'm not telling you to run yourself into the ground, but the difference between inching yourself up the career ladder and rocketing up is how much work you put into the effort.

According to Meghan Blalock, Managing Director at WhoWhatWear, "Using your days off to further educate yourself about your industry can end up being a tremendously valuable career move. John Idol, now the CEO of Michael Kors, recently spoke on a panel at a luxury retail summit in New York, and shared a personal story about how he used his time off to get ahead. 'I used to spend my weekends going to stores to learn what I wasn’t being taught at my company,' Idol said."

The way to the top isn't meant to be easy. Spend portions of your days off on extra projects, brushing up on skills, or learning from those who already succeeded. It could be the difference that'll get you where you need to be.

4. Don't Assume Everyone Has Your Best Interest In Mind

This doesn't mean to think everyone is planning to take you down — this just means to pause and figure out what you think is best instead of blindly trusting/ following along with what your office mates or superiors tell you to do.

Blalock highlights, "The best way to approach the people you work with: Simply be inquisitive. Don't take anything they say at face value, but don't assume they're trying to manipulate you either. Weigh all your options carefully, keeping your own best interests always in mind first." In the end, you have to look out for number one.

5. Inspire Others To Want To Work With You

If you've hit a ceiling at your current position and need to move higher up, use your online presence to inspire other people in your industry to want to work with you. Before tackling anything, though, first you have to pinpoint exactly who you want to inspire. Is it a publisher you want to work with? A creative director you know has openings on her team? Knowing who you're looking to reach will help you decide what kind of content to put out,

Heather Finn, career advice writer at Levo pointed out, "Once you’ve determined who you’re trying to reach, it becomes much easier to communicate what you can do for your audience." Then you can start creating articles, blog posts, sharing projects, success stories, and whatever else is relevant to catch their attention and prove you have value. Your work will speak for itself, and will hopefully catch their interest enough to give you a window in.

6. Tackle Something On The Company's To-Do List

Find out what's been on your company's or department's to-do list for a while, and then draft a game plan on how to accomplish it. Whether it's been throwing a client appreciation holiday party for the firm's clientele, or moving forward on a social media campaign, figure out what has been pushed to the back burner and take initiative.

According to Margo McCall, career advice contributor at Levo, "Do at least one or two amazing things...to cement your reputation at the company —preferably things high on your boss’s list, and top priorities for your boss’s boss, too." Seeing that kind of initiative and self-starting behavior will bring you high up on their list of excellent employees.

7. Start Doing Your Job Like You Already Got Promoted

Want to be taken more seriously or prove that you can handle bigger responsibilities? Then take them on. Show leadership, pitch ideas, go a little bit above what your position requires you to do and people will take note.

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer told Fortune magazine, "Most people think of a career trajectory as a sloping line. Really, it’s a step function. When you’re ready to take the next step or take on more responsibility, you should start doing your job at the next level." If you want to advance your career, you have to go above and beyond. And if you're already thinking about it, then I know you're capable of that hard work.

Take these tips into mind and see how far you can go.

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