August 06, 2009
Ten Ways to Keep Your Job and Advance Your Career

In today’s competitive workplace, you can no longer be complacent about your work. Job security is not a guarantee in any industry, and to keep your job or find advancement opportunities, you must present yourself as extraordinary – someone who goes above and beyond. Without this proactive attitude, someone else will soon be knocking at the door to take your place. Waiting for “something” to happen will just leave you waiting. By taking some appropriate actions, you can keep your job, and find ways to start advancing your career today. Here are some tips:

Tip #1 – Always dress for success. Appearance is everything. How you are perceived at work relies heavily on your outward appearance. A well-groomed look shows that you respect yourself and promotes a positive image for your company. You always want to look professional since visits from corporate higher ups or clients could happen at any time. You always want to be prepared to make a good first impression.

Tip#2 – Take on more. It doesn’t pay to be content with only the work that is put in front of you. Don’t just ask for “more of the same” work, ask for additional tasks that are more complex and demand greater responsibility. By volunteering for additional work and successfully completing it, your supervisor will notice your abilities and will be more inclined to keep you and consider you for the next promotion.

Tip #3 – Submit your ideas on a regular basis. You’ll be amazed at the level of growth and development you will personally experience when you start sharing your great ideas with your manager and staff members. Think about the ways you can improve your workplace, processes that can be streamlined, clutter that can be removed. Your excellent idea could move you toward greatness tomorrow.

Tip #4 – Get educated. Employers prefer advanced degrees and certifications. To advance your career, try to obtain a college degree. If that’s not feasible, try to get certified in a skill that is relevant to your job. Seek out company-sponsored training and ask your supervisor about training that will help your job performance. If you work for a smaller employer, take the initiative and find out about local seminars, workshops or other professional development activities. The more you learn, the more you grow. Remember, too, knowledge is power. With additional training and education, you become more valuable and less likely to be laid off.

Tip #5 – Find a mentor. Working with a mentor will show your employer that you are serious about your career. Look for a mentor who is a successful leader in your career field. This person can be a supervisor, a co-worker or someone who works in another company. A mentor usually knows what managers look for when considering promotions and how to overcome workplace challenges. He or she can provide advice, answer questions, and relay tips that can help you reach your goals more quickly.

Tip #6 – Create a career plan. Writing a five-year career plan can help you determine your career goals and how to meet them. Describe how you plan on obtaining each goal along with a timeline. Every time you meet a goal, check it off and re-evaluate your plan. Your plan might change over time. This can also help you keep track of your career and assist you in deciding if you are satisfied with the direction of your career.

Tip #7 – Volunteer. Volunteering is another way to promote your career and demonstrate your value while expanding your knowledge in critical areas of your company. Volunteering also provides a great way to earn a reputation for being reliable, professional and cooperative, worthy of promotion. There are many organizations that can use volunteers who can create and update websites – since they cannot afford to hire information technology employees. Volunteering additional time utilizing your work skills can impress management and your peers; which can put you on the radar for future opportunities.

Tip #8 – Get involved. Joining your local professional organizations, either through your employer or local community, can help you advance your career by allowing you to showcase your talents and skills. Professional and executive organizations can provide additional information for career advancement, and provide professional credibility. The exposure can get the attention of senior management, so when an opportunity arises, your name may be at the top of the list for consideration.

Tip #9 – Get to know your public relations or marketing department. Being quoted in articles or appearing on T.V. or radio as a subject matter expert can attract positive attention to you and your company. However, it’s important to check with your supervisor before talking to the media. Some companies already have spokespeople in place (and strict guidelines about speaking to the media), but other organizations may need volunteers to speak at conferences, seminars and workshops, either in or outside your office.

Tip #10 - Speak up. If you see something that can be improved, or if there's a task that could make use of your expertise, share it! When you give a voice to your ideas, opinions and thoughts about how to improve the overall performance of your organization, managers and co-workers will take notice. Managers appreciate employees who are willing to give ideas when asked, and even when not expected; consistently offering positive, creative ideas will keep on your boss's radar and keep you on the competitive edge.

During tough uncertain times, you don’t have to feel helpless. Learn to take control of your employment future. Incorporating these tips will help you take a proactive approach to your career. By challenging yourself and pursuing your goals you will feel more energized and become a more valuable employee. Involving others in your quest will get you one step closer to who you want to be, personally and professionally. Your advancement is limited only by your commitment to your own career advancement.
Kim Goff is a professional speaker and author, who currently works as a communications director for the United Way of York. In addition to being a freelance writer, she also works on the blog, Volunteer Now! for the York Daily Record and is the Philadelphia Special Needs Kids Examiner for She speaks on overcoming obstacles, life balance and women in the workplace, and is author of “Female Empowerment – A Personal Journey.” To hire her for your next speaking engagement, e-mail:

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Edited by Patrick Barnard

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