A few decades ago, career growth was fairly straightforward. If you stayed at a job and did well, you’d find yourself slowly moving up the ladder (more slowly than men, but that’s another story). However, many of you might have to seek out ways to advance your career today, as the process nowadays just isn’t as direct as it used to be. Luckily, a lot of research has been done on ways to improve and further your career, some of which we’ll discuss here.
In today’s world, it seems job security alone is fleeting, let alone security that you’ll be able to smoothly advance your career as you wish within a given company. Even if you’ve been with the company for a long, long time, you still never know what is going to happen tomorrow. All we can do is focus on our hard work and do what we can to develop our careers in a way that will be beneficial for us no matter what company we call “home.” That said, as we’ll see below, studies have shown much of our likelihood to be successful in our careers and in securing promotions and achieving career goals is based on things we have direct control over. This includes how we seek advice and feedback, how we interact with those in our field, and how we dress at the office, just to name a few. If you’re looking to boost your career forward, read on.
Here are six ways to advance your career today, according to science.
1. Request A Mentor
Many times in our careers we might be in need of some guidance, but are unsure where exactly to get it from — especially if we have bosses who are being pulled in a million different directions every day. This is why it’s a great option to request at at-work mentor who can guide you in terms of career advancement. According to U.S. News & World Report, this person can help by offering advice and by being an open book to discuss more taboo topics like safely navigating any politics going on in the office and fear of the glass ceiling.
In regards to asking for advice, a Harvard Business School study showed those who do so are perceived as more capable. Research also agrees in the utilization of a career mentor. According to a 2010 study conducted by Nancy M. Carter, Ph.D. and Christine Silva, mentoring is necessary and helpful in the workplace for career advancement. However, while the study noted mentoring’s ability to benefit us, it also showed it benefited women less than it did men. So, aside from finding a mentor, let’s add a few more tricks to our arsenal, as well.
2. Ask For Feedback From Supervisors & Coworkers
Feedback does not have to be exclusive to the interactions we have with our mentor. We should also be seeking feedback from others at work in order to figure out where we can improve, and what things we’re already excelling at. Forbes suggested going to your boss and directly asking for areas in which he or she thinks you can improve. A executive research study conducted by IBM confirms the notion that proactive career discussions with your manager — opening the door for honest feedback on your career decisions — are beneficial for career advancement.
3. Look Into Local Networking Events, And Go
You’ve likely heard this a time or two, but networking events are oh-so-helpful in regards to career advancement. All you have to do to find a relevant one is ask around the office, or simply Google it — you’ll likely find a bunch, depending on where you live. Don’t just attend, though, be an active participant during and after. U.S. News & World Report suggested keeping a log of people you networked with, including their contact information and the interests and achievements they shared with you. This is will really helpful when it comes time to personalize your follow-ups with them now and down the road.
4. Make A Few Good Friends At Work
This seems easy and fun enough, right? The major benefit is that making some friends at work is actually connected to getting a promotion — so cool! According to a study conducted by SKOUT, a social networking app for meeting new people, 62-percent of employed participants who reported having seven or more good friends at work also reported receiving a promotion in the last year. We know you might be wiped from all that networking you’re doing, but making good friends at work doesn’t have to be difficult by any means. Bond with your coworker over your favorite TV show, or ask if you can sit with the IT team during lunch. Before you know it you might end up with a fun little crew, and a promotion too (sorry/not sorry for the rhyme, hehe).
5. Remember To Look The Part
Appearance can play a really big part in how successful you are at work — and I don’t mean your physical looks, weight, or anything like that. What I’m saying is, girl you gotta dress the part if you want to succeed. According to a 2011 study by Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, “people assess your competence and trustworthiness in a quarter of a second (250 milliseconds) –based solely on how you look,” as reported by Forbes. Basically, how Forbes put it, “Looking like a leader is the first step to becoming one.” Those mornings you’re in a rush an thinking of throwing on that wrinkled outfit you haven’t washed in ages, stop right there and consider this point. By taking a few extra minutes to achieve that polished look you can be nonverbally advancing your career that day.
6. Focus On The Short Term
Yes, of course you want to have a long term career plan, but that doesn’t mean you should put less effort on the short term projects at hand, as they can really be the forces that propel you forward. According to a 2009 Journal of Vocational Behavior study, the more you feel your goals for your career are within reach, the better your long term career status, as reported by Men’s Health. That said, accomplishing those within-reach projects today can boost how confident you feel about achieving more and more into the future, and therefore successfully meeting those goals and advancing.
Advancing your career does not have to be a heavy lift. In fact, by getting to work on some of the above points starting today, you might find a promotion is in the cards for you sooner than later.