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Simple Tips to Climb the Career Ladder

DEAR READERS: When discussing the generalities of career advancement recently, I spoke with career expert Lori Rassas, author of “The Perpetual Paycheck: 5 Secrets to Getting a Job, Keeping a Job, and Earning Income for Life in the Loyalty-Free Workplace.

Knowing that many people are looking to move up at their jobs, I thought the topic could use even more insight. Here are some things she suggests doing to help you get a leg up on the career ladder.

–Exceed expectations. This might sound obvious, but it’s worth repeating. “Complete your work on time and on budget … and pitch in to help others,” Rassas says. “Be so good that the company cannot ignore you!”

–Don’t wait for someone to come to you about promotional opportunities. If you hear about an open spot, talk to your hiring manager and find out how to qualify. “If you are not selected, rather than retreat and adopt a negative attitude, request further guidance as to how you can qualify for other roles that might be in the pipeline,” Rassas advises

–Always look for ways to upgrade your skills. This is especially important in the workplace of today, because roles and responsibilities — and the skills needed to succeed — change so quickly. As Rassas notes, “Even though you may be qualified for a current role, you may not be qualified for the future role because of technological advancements.”

If you start to feel your skills are outdated, don’t just sit back and ignore that fact — be proactive!

“Speak with your manager about obtaining training you need to stay current,” Rassas stresses. And if your company can’t or won’t help, get that training on your own. “There are countless opportunities to take reasonably priced or even free online courses or webinars that can be useful in this regard,” Rassas says.

–Look for opportunities your manager might not have contemplated. Has someone left a role, for example? If so, “See if you are qualified to take on all or part of it for career growth and development — and additional compensation,” Rassas suggests.

–Seek out a mentor outside of your department. This will help build work relationships across the company. And that, says Rassas, “might lead to career development opportunities outside of your department.”

(Kathleen Furore is a Chicago-based writer and editor who has covered personal finance and other business-related topics for a variety of trade and consumer publications. You can email her your career questions at


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