How to get ahead in your career – ten tips from an employability expert

Whether you’re just starting out in the working world or your current role is getting a bit stale, a little motivation can help you get ahead in your chosen career. Here with ten tips on how you could get ahead in the workplace is Cath Jenkins, Employability Partnerships and Programmes Manager at Better Jobs, Better Futures, a Gower College Swansea initiative which provides support to people across the city seeking new or better employment. 

In our current job climate, it is incredibly important to cultivate a good skillset, ensuring that you become and remain a valuable member of your team. Everyone wants to be praised for their contribution to a job, and it’s very fulfilling to know that your work is leading you to where you want to be in your professional life. With these ten tips, you can establish the foundations of a solid career and actively manage your own career progress, working to get ahead in a role you really love.

Never be afraid to ask for help

Be comfortable in your own skills; you’ve worked hard to be good at what you do. However, if you’re unsure of something, just say so! Your employers are there to support you in your career, and they’ll appreciate your honesty. After all, if you’re happy, you’re more productive.

Be approachable

Make an effort with your colleagues. You see them almost every day, and you have nothing to lose by being friendly and accessible. Try to give a helping hand when possible; everyone loves a team player, and trading skills is a brilliant way to make your mark as someone who is reliable and open to sharing thoughts and ideas.

Be open to change

According to recent research, we spend close to 90,000 hours of our lives at work. It can therefore be unsettling if there are changes within your workplace. Try to roll with the punches and adapt as well as you can; your enthusiasm for the company’s progression will pay off.

Keep ahead of the curve

If your employer offers any courses or training days, volunteer to participate. Not only will this be evidence of your dedication to the role, but you will also learn valuable skills that will put you ahead of the pack. Outside of training, ensure that you’re keeping up to date with the most recent trends and news in your industry; there’s trade media for almost every sector and it’s worth brushing up on your knowledge.

Gain experience

Whilst qualifications are an essential requirement for many roles, experience is often of equal importance. Not only does it give you an insight into what real working life is like, it also provides you with some foundation knowledge of the industry you’d like to be a part of. According to UCAS, one third of employers feel that applicants don’t have a satisfactory level of knowledge about their chosen career or job, so if you know at least the basics then it will hold you in good stead for the future.


Yes, this old chestnut – there’s a reason why people constantly praise the power of networking. The amount of information you can glean from what seems like a relatively informal situation is unprecedented, and you can make valuable contacts in (and out) of your field. It’s a brilliant way to get advice, hear of opportunities, and forge relationships you may not have had. If nothing else, it’s a chance to have a cuppa and a chat!

Know the difference between your personal and professional life

We live in a world of targets and deadlines, and unfortunately, you may sometimes have to take your work home with you. Having a balanced work and home life is of utmost importance to not only your own wellbeing, but also as part of your career. Find time to enjoy other aspects of your life, and you’ll be more focused walking into work the next day with a clear mind and fresh perspective.

Know where you want to be

There’s no point in trying to get ahead if you don’t know what your goals are. Take some time to think about exactly what you want from your job. Is there a promotion going that you know you’ll be perfect for? Maybe there’s a role you’d like to work up to in a few years as you learn and grow within your chosen industry. No matter how large or small, having goals will keep you focused and motivated. Make a list of five things you’d like to happen in your career, and work out a plan to get there.

Make yourself be heard

If you have a great idea for what your company should do next, tell someone! Whether they agree with you or not, it opens a conversation about your work. When in meetings, speak up and connect with what others have put forward; it shows you’re someone who listens, and people are more likely to want to hear what you have to say. Being vocal allows your employers to think of you as someone innovative and creative, and you’re more likely to stand out from the crowd.

Be confident

No one likes a show off, but it doesn’t hurt to be confident in your own abilities. If you’re a great problem solver, then volunteer your thoughts on a topic your company or team is finding tricky. If you’re a wonderful communicator, then let your boss know you’re happy to lead a meeting. You wouldn’t be in the role you’re in if you weren’t capable, and your employer is more than aware of this. Keep reminding yourself of that fact, and it’ll be easier to get ahead in your career.

For more information and interview advice, contact the Better Jobs, Better Futures team here.