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How do you get ahead at work?

Your current job (or your first job) is just a stepping stone to the next step in your career advancement plan. Follow these tips to increase your value to your employer and the chances that you’ll be promoted to the next level.

Get the education.

Adding to your education may help your career advance, especially if further education is expected in the next level up. Read about your degree options and explore careers to see where your next step may be. Don’t forget to ask your employer if they pay for job-related continuing education. Many employers provide partial or full tuition if you are seeking to stay in the same field.

…and then get more education.

Depending on your field, continuing education opportunities may help you learn more about your career field. Look for continuing education from these sources:

  • Your employer. They may offer additional training or on-the-job classes. If no official training is available, a manager or another employee may be able to teach you the skills you need to advance your career.
  • Professional associations. Depending on your career field, there may be a professional association that provides continuing education.
  • WorkOne Centers, libraries and community centers. If you’re looking for basic skills used in many jobs, check your local WorkOne Center, public library or another community center for free or low-cost classes.

Gain the skills.

Across the board, employers value certain traits. Surveys have shown that the following are important to employers:

  • Accountability and responsibility. Do what you say you’ll do. If traffic or something else prevents you from getting to work on time, call ahead and apologize for being late. Make a commitment to be at work on time or even early every day. If you can’t complete a project by the deadline, let others know as soon as possible. Remember: it’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way around.
  • Attitude. Train yourself to have a positive attitude. Not only will it make the workplace more enjoyable for you and for your coworkers, it might put you at the top of the list for promotions and leadership positions.
  • Initiative. If you see a job that needs to be done, do it. If you have an idea, speak up. Remember: doing only what you’re asked to do may bring you a paycheck, but it probably won’t get you promoted.
  • Analytical skills. Analytical skills are the ability to analyze the situation and find solutions. Don’t let work be boring; think critically about what you are doing and suggest improvements when you can.
  • Teamwork. Lone rangers don’t make it in today’s job climate. Make it your goal to work well with everyone on your team. Having a positive attitude and delivering on your promises will help you develop teamwork.
  • Communication skills. Work on communicating clearly and effectively across all methods used in your job: face-to-face, on the phone, in emails or in presentations. If your writing or speaking skills need work, you may be able to take a class at a community college or take advantage of professional development workshops offered by your company.
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