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Tips to get ahead: 10 experts speak up

Tips to get ahead: 10 experts speak up

Workers seeking to get ahead in their careers need to rely less on their talent and their experience and more on personal brand and relationship with their boss, career experts say.

Ten leading career advisors and human resources consultants have provided tips to workers who wants to further develop their career.

The Career Consultancy director Catherine Cunningham says persistence and planning is a must.

"Recognise that ability alone is not enough," she says.

"Make sure that you are efficient in tasks that will help your manager the most."

Tom Laundy, 31, was appointed business advisory director at William Buck at age 29 after working his way up the ladder from graduate accountant.

"Take initiative. In the vast majority of cases, initiative is rewarded as it shows an ability to act independently to achieve goals, which can take some pressure off others, making your contribution more valuable," he says.


  • Do not expect the boss to know what you have done, document it.
  • Make a list of all the extra tasks you are doing outside your job description and rank them in order of what your boss views as important.
  • Friday afternoon is a good time to ask for a pay rise because the boss can then spend the weekend worrying that you might leave.
  • It will also give the boss time to go over your pitch and to work out how she or he will justify your increase to his or her boss.
  • Use phrases such as 'I would like you to think about' and 'at an appropriate time'
  • If you get bad news, make sure you have a reaction plan ready. You do not want to say something you will regret.

Kate Southam, editor,


  • Think carefully, research and prepare.
  • Job-change challenges to be considered include current and future prospects as well as the need for new and helpful networks.
  • Any gaps in training need to be addressed.
  • The focus of the CV should be changed to highlight any transferable skills relating to the new job.
  • Preparation and practice for an interview will build confidence. Preparing the right answers will impress a new employer.

Monica Magann, career counsellor, Career Directions Australia


  • A performance development review can be a valuable tool for employees to talk about issues in the workplace, such as overtime, workload, culture of the organisation and anything else that impacts their role.
  • If the relationship between employee and manager is good, then any issue from the workplace can be discussed.
  • If the relationship is not good, then be careful as to what you say because you don't want it to be used against you.

Merydith Willoughby, Organisation Development Consultant, IB Coaching


  • To be promoted, you have to be seen as being a leader in your office and/or your field.
  • Workers who want to be promoted need to have a strong profile within the organisation.
  • Don't be invisible.
  • Join industry groups within your particular specialty, attend industry events and present at a conference.

Shireen DuPreez, senior consultant, Executive Search Consulting


  • The first is flexbility in being a 'yes' person rather than a 'no' person.
  • These are people who are inclined to be more embracing of new challenges and doing things that may not be in their job description.
  • They might not think it's their job but they are prepared to do it and have a can do attitude.
  • People who rely on workers need to have the confidence that when a worker says they'll do something, they'll deliver what is committed to the highest possible standards.
  • The ideal employees need to be low-maintenance and not at the door every five minutes complaining about things.

Caroline Vickers-Willis, group marketing director, RossJuliaRoss


  • Workers need to look internally to see what kinds of variety motivate and stimulate them.
  • They need to understand the need that's driving them first to determine the best action to take.
  • It may be that they can get their motivation back in the workplace or outside the workplace.
  • Employees should look at opportunities to shadow a colleague, take on new projects and/or get involved in a new area of work.
  • Also consider a new hobby or activity to spend the weekend, or improving self development through a training course or networking.
  • Workers can also assess if they need a greater sense of belonging or competence or something which will bring them new confidence, such as a new job role or project.

Bridget Hogg, principal consultant, HR Development at Work


  • To fast-track your career, make sure that you are efficient in tasks that will help your manager the most.
  • Find out what your manager regards good performance and train constantly in your strengths so you can more effective.
  • Take risks and step outside your job role.
  • Make sure your actions are regarded constructive, not just attention seeking.
  • Identify a well-regarded senior person at work from whom to seek career advice and return the favour by loyalty and respect.
  • Be a problem solver, not a problem finder.
  • Smile a lot. Others notice and favour happy people.

Catherine Cunningham, director, The Career Consultancy


  • Volunteering abroad, extended holidays or to take it easy due to work burn-out.
  • To raise a career break with your boss, have a clear plan before you go to him/her. Don't be vague.
  • Have some solutions to problems your absence may cause. Develop an understudy, identify others who could do your work, or suggest casual or contract recruitment.
  • The benefits to the organisation may include the saving of your salary, if you're not replaced.
  • You return refreshed and with renewed commitment.

Michelle Bentley, general manager, Donington SA


  • Often people underestimate the benefits of networking internally, or within an organisation.
  • Networking is based on the premise that people buy from people that they like, know and trust.
  • Effective networking must consist of developing rapport with people that may result in an exchange of goods, services or information.
  • People rarely get promoted just for doing their job. They need to be noticed, too.
  • To get ahead in the workplace you need to be noticed for the right reasons.
  • Other ideas include to make your boss look good, look the part and stand up and speak up.

Sharon Ferrier, professional speaker and corporate trainer, Persuasive Presentations


  • Working smart means getting the same results in less time.
  • You'll get the most by changing your speed, increasing focus and organising to do things in parallel.
  • You bring your full focus to one task and build momentum until you're producing results like nobody's business.
  • Eliminate your major distractions of email, telephone, visitors and yourself for a few hours.
  • People are less productive when multi-tasking. We feel busy, but most of that busyness is spent switching from task to task.
  • You can find ways to arrange work so many things are happening at once.

Paul Smith, chief executive, Carnegie Management Group

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