There are many articles out there that outline strategies for advancing your career, while inspiring, I often find these concepts to be a bit abstract. Many of us don’t have the time, or even know-how, to apply this advice to our daily lives. However, I have noticed some common behaviours in people who rise quickly through the ranks. So here are some instant, real-world activities that you can start doing today to help you get your next promotion.


Take at least 15 to 30 minutes to industry read books, blogs, news sites and columns specific to your industry every day. This is the quickest, simplest way to stay on top of how your industry is evolving, allowing you to spot potential opportunities for your team, company and your career, and will help position you has a someone on the cutting edge.

Be over-prepared

In today’s hectic, multi-tasking world, being over-prepared can seem impossible. But it’s not. Whether that means opting out of less priority meetings (or sending a replacement), coming in a bit early (or staying a bit late), in order to get that presentation or report just right, it’s well worth it and will allow you to consistently deliver quality work with confidence.

Don’t dwell

Alright so you messed up that one time. But you owned up to it, apologized, recommended a solution, and then put that solution into action, so there’s no need to dwell on it any longer. The more you dwell, the more it takes your focus away from doing everything else right moving forward, and you risk permanently associating yourself with that mistake, jeopardizing future promotions.

Avoid negative people

Jim Rohn said “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I personally take this to heart and so should anyone who wants to achieve certain things in their life. Spending time with gossipers, backstabbers, or even B-players and the mediocre means acclimatizing yourself to their level.

Follow through

Are you the “type” (like I can be) that always starts projects but never finishes them? Do you have a garage full of half-finished birdhouses or a corner piled high with unfinished knitting? If that sounds familiar then there’s a chance your habit of “unfinishing” projects could be trickling over into your work life. In your personal and professional life, make it a habit to always finish things you start, and keep everyone up to date with your progress along the way. In no time at all, you’ll develop a reputation for being a reliable colleague who others can depend on to get things done.

Success isn’t about doing one thing that will work instantly, it’s about methodically developing a bunch of small habits and attitudes, that when combined, prepare you for taking on new roles and responsibilities…and the success that comes with it.

Melissa Allen writes for Workopolis and appears on the Workopolis 180. She tweets @manifique.