You deserve a job that loves you back. Get there with Glassdoor. Learn more.

Career Development Tips

How To Advance Your Career With These Top Tips

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

Why you need to know how to advance at workTips for how to advance in your careerWhat if you're happy with your career?

Guide Overview

How to advance your career

Advancement is the upward progression of someone's career. You can grow in your field by moving up from an entry-level job to a leadership role with greater educational requirements and responsibilities. You can also advance by transferring to another occupation.

These new opportunities are gained through on-the-job experience or additional training, for example:

A classroom aide with an associate degree returns to school for their bachelor's and secures a teaching position.

An award-winning salesperson with a decade of experience earns a promotion to sales manager.

Why you need to know how to advance at work

If you want a career that offers new challenges and increasing responsibilities, look for a company or field with advancement opportunities. You may eventually become stagnant in a job that lacks growth potential, and dissatisfaction will soon follow.

When considering a new occupation, explore its advancement opportunities. After a few years of gaining experience, can you move up, or will you have to move on? Changing occupations is never easy, which is why many employees are stuck in unsatisfying professions. It’s better to know upfront whether professional development opportunities lie ahead.

Tips for how to advance in your career

Here are 12 things you can do to help you learn how to advance in your career:

1. Ask for new projects

If you work in an occupation that offers advancement opportunities, ask for more responsibility. This habit demonstrates your willingness to take on new and challenging projects. It also gives you a chance to prove to your boss that you can handle the added work.

Consider whether you:

  • Have a good rapport with your boss.
  • Hold an excellent reputation for going above and beyond.
  • Are a valuable team member.

2. Monitor in-house job postings

Many employers have a company policy to promote from within. Make a habit out of checking the internal job board for advancement opportunities. Apply for interesting, higher-level positions for which you’re qualified.

For example, accounting clerks may want to try out for the department’s supervisory position.

Be honest with yourself about your abilities and avoid overstating your skills. Don’t sell yourself short, either.

3. Be helpful

Take advantage of occasions to actively chip in and assist your fellow employees. This advice also applies to helping your boss. By doing so, you’ll demonstrate that you’re a team player who’s willing to step up when needed without being asked.

The best practices for offering help in the workplace include:

  • Make it known that you’re available.
  • Learn to take no for an answer.
  • Focus on time-sensitive tasks.

Being proactive on the job is usually a positive habit. However, there are situations when it can come across negatively. Make it clear that you understand your coworker can do the job and that they may simply not have the time to devote to it.

4. Ask for advice

Ask someone with more experience for career advancement advice. A mentor can give you helpful pointers, and if you don’t already have a mentor, put some effort into establishing that relationship. Objective career advice can motivate you in unexpected ways. Mentors can help you shape realistic professional goals for the next few years and provide constructive criticism.

Talk to experienced people who currently work in the field, and ask them:

  • How they have progressed in their careers since they started working.
  • How their entry-level job differs from what they are doing now.
  • What they expect to be doing career-wise in five, eight, or ten years?

5. Expand your skill sets

If your resume is getting a bit dusty, consider expanding your skills. One way to advance in your career is with additional training. Obtaining certification or an advanced degree is an excellent method for earning a leg up on your coworkers. Taking the time to better yourself will almost always positively impact your career.

How to develop within your vocation with continuing education:

  • Look for online courses you can do from the comfort of your home.
  • Focus your studies on one subject at a time to avoid getting overwhelmed.
  • Find out if your company offers tuition reimbursement.

6. Join a professional organization

Meet your goals at work by joining a professional organization. These groups are an excellent way to meet new people in your field.

Some popular organization to capitalize on include:

7. Dress for the part

Some employees avoid moving forward on career goals because it requires a lot of time and effort. If you’re interested in learning how to advance in your career, one way is to dress for success. There’s actually a bit of science behind this theory. A 2014 study for the Journal of Experimental Psychology showed that sprucing up your style can increase job performance.

Dressing for the job you want can:

  • Improve your ability to negotiate.
  • Make you more confident.
  • Affect how others perceive you.
  • Boost creativity and abstract thinking.

8. Host a networking party

Although it might not be an obvious approach, hosting a party can help you advance your career. The mission of a networking get-together is to focus on forging or maintaining professional relationships.

If your place is too small for a big bash, you can even host your party at a neighborhood eatery or take advantage of Zoom and host a virtual gathering. Set a date and ask everyone on your guest list to bring a friend or two. The goal here is to connect with movers and shakers in surprising ways.

Some tips for a successful soiree include:

  • Think strategically about the size of your gathering.
  • Decide if your event will have a theme.
  • Consider recruiting a co-host.
  • Leverage existing contacts to build your guest list.

9. Ask, and you shall receive

Your job performance alone won’t always open up doors for advancement. Sometimes, you actually have to ask for what you want. Most bosses aren’t mind-readers, so don’t assume yours knows that you’re dedicated to climbing the corporate ladder.

Ensure that management notices your good work. You’re right to expect to be rewarded for going above and beyond. Often employees assume that the higher-ups know what’s best when it comes to career advancement. Unfortunately, the truth is that many workers only get noticed when there’s a problem.

How to ask for a promotion:

  • Be prepared and have specific milestones on hand.
  • Timing is key. Approach your boss at your annual review.
  • Know what you’re worth. Get a free, personalized salary estimate based on today’s job market.
  • Be willing to negotiate.

10. Focus on your priorities

Identifying your core values is a terrific place to start when organizing your priorities. Let go of any ideas of the perfect opportunity and focus on getting closer to a career that makes you happy.

Develop a wish list of items like:

  • Your ideal day at the office.
  • Your ideal coworkers and managers.
  • Your ultimate career goal.

11. Be patient

If you find yourself biding time until you can land a better opportunity, do your best to stay engaged at your current position. Make every day at the office meaningful and put extra care into your assignments. You want to maintain a good working relationship with your boss while taking steps to learn how to advance in your career.

Keep your eyes on the prize and do something every day to move closer to your ideal job. Whether it’s taking a class or joining a networking group on Facebook, find something in your personal life that benefits your advancement intentions.

Learn more: Tell us what your experience has been like working at your company.

12. Build a personal website

A polished resume is an essential tool for any job advancement strategy. However, having a vibrant website that showcases your skills and accomplishments is even better. Taking advantage of today’s technology demonstrates your value in a targeted way.

Keep a few things in mind, such as:

  • Focus on content as much as visual design.
  • Include a two-to-five-line bio summing up who you are.
  • Add a portfolio page or list of projects.

What if you're happy with your career?

Don’t feel bad if you don’t dream of a high-powered position with a corner office. If you’ve achieved a pleasant comfort level at work, terrific. Having the self-awareness to know that you aren’t management material allows you to focus on performing the best you can every day.

How to know if you’re comfortable in your job:

  • You don’t get the Sunday-night blues.
  • You feel appreciated by your boss and coworkers.
  • You truly care about the quality of your contributions.

Stop waiting to be discovered. Chart your path to a larger paycheck and a more fulfilling profession with these tips about how to advance your career.

Related Career Guides