To get ahead in a career and move towards a more productive, profitable, and fulfilled future takes discipline. Career advancement is something all success-driven professionals should be focused on throughout their career.

Tips to help you get ahead.

If you’re goal is to get ahead, then roll up your sleeves and let’s get started. The first step is to recognize that advancing in your career can never be left up to luck. It requires that you prepare so when opportunity strikes, you’ll be ready to get ahead.

Take a Class

It’s vital in today’s career landscape to stay relevant by continually building on your skills. An easy way to accomplish this is to sign up for courses and earn certifications that are specific to your goals. Subject-matter experts (SMEs) are the go-to people for a specialized job, task, or skill within any organization. Completing education and earning graduate certifications is a great way to add credibility to your resume and broaden your knowledge base on that topic. Certifications that combine study, exams and work experience also tend to be the most valuable when your goal is to get ahead.

Network

Networking is a proven strategy in career advancement. One reason this is true is because many jobs are never even advertised. They are filled by word of mouth. So it’s who you know, who knows you, and your skill set that matters. You must develop relationships and connections within your industry to have more opportunities to advance your career. LinkedIn has also become a precursor for successful connections. So, be sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date. While you’re updating LinkedIn, consider upping your web presence game. Make yourself as findable and relevant as possible! Think networking may be a little awkward? Check out these tips on navigating and thriving at networking events.

Learn from Leaders

Learning from a leader who shares a similar interest, career path, or level of experience in a particular field is a great way to help fast track your career. Such a leader should provide sound advice, no-nonsense tips, and the uncensored truth about getting ahead in your career. Find a professional in your field whose career you’d like to emulate. Then, assess their strengths and weaknesses to form your own effective leadership skills.

Amp up your Wardrobe!

Looking good at work can help boost your self-confidence, according to a study from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. The study shows that clothing significantly influences how others perceive you and respond to you. With an updated wardrobe, employers may take you more seriously. They may also realize that you are ready to take the next step in your career advancement. Worried that you might not be able to afford a whole new wardrobe overhaul? Look for opportunities that help with this. UMBC hosts a “UMBC Suits You” event. If you’re a UMBC student in need, you may be able to gain access to professional clothing for FREE!

Think Long-Term

It’s a good practice to write out what you want out of life. List them out in terms of the short-term (2-5 years) and long-term (5-10 years). Once you’ve got your short- and long-term goals on paper, start facilitating the conversations and meetings needed to achieve them. This might be a meeting with your manager to discuss what you want to achieve in your current role. Or perhaps you discuss where you want to see yourself in the next 1-2 years. The conversation may then segue into ideas on how your manager may be able to help you get there.

Keep a Win-List Handy

As you progress through your career, keep a continuous list of your accomplishments. If possible, keep back-up evidence in a file as well, such as letters from happy clients or colleagues. This list is also a great tool to pull out during performance reviews and job interviews. You can reference specific endeavors and projects you successfully completed, and you can offer details on how your work impacted the business. Plus, while you’re updating your resume, you can look at the list to get inspiration for the accomplishments you want to highlight.

Update Resume

Be sure your resume is up-to-date. You never know when opportunity will knock! Having a strong, up-to-date resume is critical for career advancement, and thanks to modern technology, there’s no reason why you can’t carry your full resume with you wherever you go. Your resume is one of the most important documents you have to offer. You don’t want to rush drafting it. If you haven’t looked at it since starting your current job, pull it out, brush off the dust, and add the relevant information. If a perfect position immediately opens up, you’ll have all the tools to successfully apply for (and hopefully get!) the position.

Learn a Language

According to this article on career advancement, the ability to learn a whole new language may rapidly expand your job prospects. By learning to speak a new language, the possibility of searching for jobs in various countries is a realistic goal. Learning a second language also shows commitment to taking on new things in order to advance your career.

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