Are you looking to climb the corporate ladder – or any career ladder for that matter? Navigating this process can be daunting, as it often involves challenges and unforeseen circumstances. What’s the best way to embark on this journey and ensure a steady climb? Well, like all challenges in life, a little planning, preparation, and forethought go a long way.

To help, we spoke with the experts to find out how you can advance yourself professionally. Here are four tips that can help you take your career to the next level.

Communicate with your manager

It’s often said that communication, or lack thereof, can make or break a relationship, and the same can be said for a person’s relationship with their manager. Open communication with your superior could do wonders for your career – providing you’re communicating the right information. Specifically, employees should be making their career goals known to their managers, after all, it’s part of a manager’s job to help you achieve your objectives. Once your manager is aware of your end goals, he or she can then help you develop the skills you need to get there. However, you don’t want to come across as selfish or self-serving, so make sure to approach these conversations in a way that everyone benefits.

“Position it as a partnership and how you can achieve your career goals while helping the department or company,” suggests Mary Kruger career expert at MLK Coaching. “It’s also important to highlight other things you’d like to learn and work on.”

Ask for more responsibility at work

The more effort you put into your career, the more you’ll get out of it, and this includes broadening your scope of work. You can start by expressing to your manager your willingness to do more and have more responsibility. Kruger suggests taking the initiative by offering to tackle a new project or organize a team outing. After all, going above and beyond the call of duty is what will keep you top of mind when a promotion becomes available.

“If you’re the person that arrives at 9 a.m. and leaves at 5 p.m. on the dot and does their work – yeah that’s great; you’re not going to get fired, but you’re probably not going to advance,” says Kruger. “If you really want to advance in your work, then you really have to demonstrate that you’re willing to put in the extra work and be proactive rather than reactive.”

Negotiate your salary

The best time to earn the highest pay possible is when you first start working at a company because this is when you’re in the best position to negotiate. Unfortunately for many, this is often a wasted opportunity. “It’s crazy how much money is left on the table because people don’t ask,” says Kruger. “Your biggest raise is when you first get the job and you negotiate it.”

If you’ve let the opportunity of a fatter pay cheque slip through your fingers, there’s still a chance you could regain those losses. The next best time to negotiate your salary is after successfully completing your probation or during a performance review, but you need to be prepared! Kruger suggests making a “win list” of all the accomplishments you’ve made while you’ve been on the job to help justify your request.

Know when it’s time to move on

Continuous learning is vital to career growth, and a great way to do that is to ensure you’re in a challenging role. Acquiring new skills is difficult when you remain in the same role for too long and have settled into a predictable routine.

“The big thing is when to recognize it’s time to cut your losses and go somewhere else,” says Kruger. “People are afraid to make a move…and a common mistake is staying with a company when you know there’s no further progress and you don’t leave.”

It’s important to be able to identify the signs that it’s time to leave a role or company. Kruger says a red flag is when your engagement plummets and if you’re feeling resentful.

On the flip side, working for a new company can be extremely beneficial to your career. This new situation could allow you to apply your knowledge to a new industry, therefore expanding your skills and qualifications. Furthermore, if your current employer isn’t testing out new platforms or technologies, its competitors might be and moving on gives you the opportunity to tap into those learning opportunities. Plus, it’s always great to work with new people, for instance a new manager likely has a different skillset and can teach you something your previous manager wasn’t able to.

Take a look at jobs that are available near you.